InterviewInterview with Marketing Head, BlockFi – Brad Michelson

FintecBuzz FintecBuzz4 months ago16518 min
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Brad Michelson BlockFi, Marketing Head

Brad is a New York-based digital marketing strategist, specializing in the e-commerce and Blockchain industries. He is currently heading the marketing department at BlockFi, an asset management platform for cryptocurrency holder. Prior to Blockfi, he was working as a digital marketing manager at Airswap.

1. Tell us about your role in BlockFi?
I’m the Director of Marketing at BlockFi. I manage our marketing team and oversee our customer acquisition activities.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I first heard about Bitcoin in 2012. My cousin had been involved in the miner community early on and he helped me understand the philosophy behind crypto in general. At the same time, I started engaging with the Reddit community, learning about how the technology works and how it’s being implemented in the real world. It’s been exciting watching the industry develop over the last seven years.

3. How is technology changing the Finance Sector, according to you?
The introduction of technology into finance has had an amazing effect in regard to speed and access. It’s never been faster to make a transaction across distances. This is increasingly true with the introduction of blockchain technology into the ecosystem.

4. How do you think digital lending options have made lending process easier and efficient?
The growth of digital lending services over the last couple decades has been really interesting. Traditionally, banks were the only bodies with the ability to provide debt and credit on a massive scale. Nowadays, since we’ve experience the boom of fintech, we now have companies like SoFi providing competitive or even market-leading products without the “bank” designation. I think this is a trend we’ll continue to see as the industry progresses. Just the other day T-Mobile announced that they’ll be providing high-yield savings accounts. It may not feel like it, but consumer facing fintech is still in its infancy. With the emergence of crypto, I think we’ll see more of these sorts of companies incorporate blockchain tech into their products.

5. How is offering USD loans to cryptoasset owners is assuring wide acceptance of cryptoassets and booming business of BlockFi?
Any new utility you can provide to cryptoasset users is a positive thing. Not every product is going to take off, but the consumer needs to have a menu of services available to play with. In the end, the products that are going to succeed are going to do so because of the consumer, not because of their underlying philosophy. In the case of USD loans, it’s a product many people are already familiar with. There isn’t much of a learning curve there. Additionally, having the ability to access the USD value of your crypto without having to actually sell your crypto is a huge benefit. The way I see it, we as an industry need to build existing financial products that incorporate blockchain technology before we can innovate into the next phase of finance that crypto can facilitate.

6. You recently launched high interest saving accounts which offers interests in cryptocurrency as well as regular currency, can you explain how it can be a masterstroke by BlockFi?
BlockFi’s goal is to provide consumers around the world with high-quality, low-cost financial services. To us, that means always having the best customer service and most competitive rates. The huge demand for the BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) has demonstrated that there is a significant demand for services that can outcompete those in the traditional financial world. BIA is just our first step into this sort of innovation. In the future, as we launch more products and services that can interact with even more crypto and fiat currencies, we expect that this demand will continue to mature.

7. How does your products bring more liquidity to blockchain asset sector?
One thing that we’ve seen a lot since the launch of BIA is that after our clients receive their first interest payment, many of them instantly deposit more crypto in their accounts. Of those, quite a few have told us that they actually purchased more crypto for the purpose of growing their BIA balances. This is a significant indicator of the potential for our products to encourage wider crypto adoption.

On the lending side of things, we have customers who take out crypto-backed loans for business and investing purposes. Those activities will generate a yield, which then gets invested back into the crypto ecosystem. It’s exciting to see how our products have been able to help people grow and manage their overall wealth.

8. What advice would you like to give to the Fintech StartUps?

Don’t let the naysayers deter you from pursuing your business idea. Find your addressable market and pick a niche. Own those customers and don’t stop innovating.

9. What is the Digital innovation according to you that will mark 2019?
So far in 2019 crypto lending services have been pretty popular, and we like to think we’ve been a big part of that. Non-bank financial service providers are popping up everywhere and that can only benefit the consumer overall. For us, it’s been really exciting to see this sector not only grow, but get the attention it deserves. I can’t go too deep into where we’re moving next, but there are some big things on the way.

10. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
Since the launch of BIA, we’ve been focussed on improving our platform and providing as much information as possible to our clients about their accounts. Additionally, we’re working on providing a number of new security features that will be rolling out over the next few weeks. Beyond that, we have quite a few exciting features coming to our platform over the next couple quarters involving things like crypto-backed cards and fiat on-ramping.

11. What are your predictions on the future of Cryptocurrency?
I think over the next 5 years we’re going to see a lot more fintech companies (crypto and not) incorporate blockchain technology into their platforms. I also think that crypto will be legitimized as another asset that the everyday person might include in their investment portfolio. We’re already seeing companies like SoFi providing the ability to invest in funds of crypto companies. I’m very exciting to see what happens next.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
The BlockFi team has an eclectic background. Our founders, Zac Prince and Flori Marquez, both have backgrounds in lending and technology. Our finance team is made up of former bankers and finance professionals. Our engineering team is filled with seasoned coders with a very successful background in building companies. And the marketing and sales teams are built with people with backgrounds that vary from former agency directors to bank employees. Since I joined BlockFi we’ve grown from about ten people to nearly 30 employees. Even as we scale, we’ve been able to keep our company culture inviting, fun, and relaxed. It’s great to work here.

13. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?
Good question. For me there are a couple movies that always excite me. The first is Almost Famous. I used to be a music writer and that movie was instrumental in motivating me to take chances with my career. Also, as lame as it sounds, I really like watching The Social Network. I’ve always found it to sort of trigger my entrepreneurial side and it helped kick-off my passion for working with small businesses.

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Working at BlockFi is a lot of fun. Despite our team growing fairly rapidly, we’ve managed to keep the office environment casual and approachable. We’re keen to get new people involved with the rest of the team. Our company culture has matured into a fun and inclusive place.

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