Executive Q&A: Pavel Matveev, CEO and Co-Founder of Wirex

Pavel Matveev, CEO and Co-Founder of Wirex spoke to Technology magazine about his role and the use of technology in the crypto industry

Can you tell us about your role and responsibilities?

I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Wirex, and founded Wirex in 2014 with Dmitry Lazarichev, after identifying the need for a simple answer to the often-confusing world of cryptocurrencies.

I didn’t invest in Bitcoin straight away, but it piqued my interest. At the time, due to its complexity, it wasn’t easily accessible to the mass market – you had to install different wallets, download the blockchain, and check if it worked or not. It was a great time though, and I knew it was something I wanted to explore further! 

In my current role, I’m responsible for the high-level functioning and growth of Wirex, with a specific focus on new product development and platform evolution. I’m a big advocate for the mass adoption of the digital economy, so I also take on a lot of speaking roles at blockchain and payments conferences around the world, such as Money 20/20 Europe, The Pay Expo, Shift Money and Finsum Japan.

What is your point of difference as a business?

Wirex is empowering everyone to enjoy the advantages of a world where all currencies are equal. This involves targeting both core-crypto enthusiasts who are looking for an easy on-boarding and off-boarding solution to utilise their crypto assets, as well as mainstream fintech fans looking for an alternative to traditional methods of payment and money management. In comparison, many of our competitors focus on a particular market.

In 2015, Wirex was the first company to launch a crypto-enabled debit card, followed by a crypto rewards platform, Cryptoback™, and we’ve continued to keep up with industry trends as the crypto and blockchain industries have evolved. 

When Wirex was founded in 2014, we were on the mission to make the often-confusing world of cryptocurrencies simpler for everyday users. To make digital money more accessible, we developed a mobile payments platform that allows customers to buy, store, exchange and spend digital and traditional currencies.

As we move towards a cashless society, our aim is to support and promote the adoption of digital currencies and to provide a low-cost, efficient and secure transactional environment for individuals, whether they’ve been crypto-enthusiasts for years or if they’re brand new to the space.

What technology are you most looking forward to using more of?

The crypto space is constantly changing, and that means the technology is often changing too. We’ve been continuously expanding the blockchains available on both the Wirex app and our new non-custodial Wirex Wallet and we’re looking forward to being able to integrate even more in the near future. By creating an ecosystem of products, we’re bridging the gap between the CeFi and DeFi worlds, and enabling everyday users to utilise crypto and blockchain technology.

When creating the Wirex Wallet, we had a goal of making it the first mass-market non-custodial wallet, which meant we had to ensure the technology used was not only safe and secure but also easy to use. Most non-custodial wallets rely solely on complicated seed phrases and private keys for access, and we wanted the Wirex Wallet to be different while still using cutting-edge technology. As a result, we created one of the first non-custodial wallet that uses biometric identification as back up protection, making it easy to use for all wallet holders.

What has been your career highlight prior to your current role?

I’ve been lucky enough to get over 15 years of experience across 5 top tier investment banks, including Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse. Working in software development and IT management, I primarily helped banks to build trading platforms and algo-trading strategies, which helped to develop my interest in everything finance, technology, and the latest innovations. I’m hugely thankful for the experience it gave me, but I had always dreamed of building a tech company.

What has been your highlight in your current role?

Wirex has gone from strength to strength since we Dmitry Lazarichev and I founded the company in 2014, and it seems like every year we have multiple new highlights and big milestones. In 2015 we were the first company to create a crypto-enabled debit card, and our card has continued to evolve; we now offer three different crypto-enabled debit cards around the world and became the first crypto-native company to partner with both Visa and Mastercard. We’ve just reached 5 million registered customers spread across 130 countries globally.

What’s more we’ve continued to expand both our product and tech, but also our audience. We’ve broadened our offering into the DeFi space, first with the launch of X-Accounts in June 2021 and again with the launch of the non-custodial Wirex Wallet and our partnership with Nereus, a DeFi lending and borrowing protocol. 

One of the biggest projects we’ve worked on was our launch in the US, which happened earlier this year, and we received over 150,000 registrations in just the first six weeks. This was a big feat given the fact that we’re still a relatively small team and the USA is such a huge and important market.

By removing key barriers to usage and pushing the world ever closer to mass adoption, I believe that our success shows that we’ve made huge progress in democratising access to cryptocurrencies.

What is your leadership style?

I’ve always had ambitious plans to grow Wirex as the market develops, which involves ensuring we continue to build-on our existing product so that it remains the next generation of payments infrastructure and digital payments.

Innovation is therefore at the heart of this, and this comes from the bottom-up. We have an open policy to creative brainstorming, where I encourage everyone in our team is to speak up, provide feedback and share ideas. For example, in our product meetings, all team members are asked to participate and bring feedback on what they like in the personal finance space and the challenges they’ve faced, which are all taken onboard for our product development. 

What exciting plans do you have coming up as an organisation?

2022 has already been a huge year for Wirex with our launch in the USA and our blockchain expansion in both the Wirex app and Wirex Wallet, but there’s still plenty more exciting plans on the horizon. 

We’re planning to expand our USA product to allow customers to access even more benefits that DeFi can offer, including our recently elevated ‘X-tras Reward Programme’. Crypto as an industry is constantly changing industry, so you never really know where it’s going to go next or what the next big thing will be, but we’ve got plenty of exciting plans around new tokens, new credit features within our Wirex app, and also even some changes to our crypto-enabled debit cards – it's going to be a very exciting year!

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