This Tuesday, August 16th, GetBlock Explorer invited Ivan Ilin, COO of NearPay, to a Twitter Spaces session. Ivan talked about NearPay partnerships, hottest plans and answered community questions. That was fun and riveting. Anyway, here's the recap.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: With us today - Ivan Ilin, the COO of NearPay. Could you please introduce yourself in more detail and talk a bit about your team role and the way you see yourself in the NearPay team.
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: I’m the COO of NearPay which means that I’m responsible for implementing the strategy and hiring product managers, development team, support team.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Awesome! Seems like you have quite a vast list of things that you do for the NearPay team and that’s a very complex job to do. Since you’ve introduced yourself, could you please now talk about the NearPay project. What’s the project all about? What are the mission, vision, values, all these basic things?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: NearPay is a series of projects. We have two projects now, two products. One of them is an easy on-ramp solution with the help of which you can buy crypto with your fiat money, credit or debit card. Right now it is only available for individuals, but we want to serve the B2B audience too. The second product is the NearPay card. We offer a wallet and the plastic card in one place. It’s a custody wallet, not like Near Wallet, MyNearWallet or Sender Wallet. The benefit is that you can bind the card to your NearPay wallet. Our mission is to connect crypto and fiat worlds. Crypto world is much smaller than fiat world, and we aim to make crypto as convenient as the usual money, so we can just go and spend crypto anywhere. We’re focusing on creating solutions that bridge the gap between crypto and fiat worlds.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Sounds like you have a mass adoption inspired mission, and that’s fantastic. The GetBlock team and I believe that crypto should be about mass adoption.
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: Yeah, mass adoption is our dream.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Everyone in blockchain and crypto space dreams about that! By the way, you’ve mentioned the NearPay card; do you use it yourself? What was the first thing that you bought with it, if any?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: I’m looking forward to ordering my NearPay card just because it’s only available for EU and UK residents. Right now I’m waiting for my residence permit and I think in a month I will be able to order my NearPay card. Now I only use my NearPay wallet, but I will use the card. First thing I’ll buy would be a TV.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: A good choice! Now I think I should definitely try the NearPay card, I should get it! If I asked you to describe NearPay with 3 words, what would these 3 words be?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: I thought a lot about it, and I’ve thought about different words; however, I think “crypto-fiat solution” is the best phrase that explains everything about NearPay.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: This is pretty straightforward and this says everything that should be said about NearPay. I mean, why not?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: I thought about “security, convenience, etc.”, but still “crypto-fiat solution” is the best. That’s the point.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: It’s just straightforward: what’s NearPay for. Why invent the wheel? Let’s now dive a bit deeper into the main features of NearPay. You’ve talked about two projects being built, but what are their main features?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: The first one, the on-ramp solution allows people to buy crypto with their credit or debit cards. Right now the user can either visit our website or use the NearPay widget on another website of the Near ecosystem. People can choose the currency, usually NEAR, can also be USN or AURORA, then they pass the KYC, insert card details and buy crypto. As for the NearPay card and wallet - they allow users to open an account and buy any of the 35 crypto assets there. Though we focus on NEAR, other cryptos like BTC, LTC, USDT, USDC and others are available as well. You can order a card: for now it's virtual but we plan to also offer plastic cards. I think we’ll do it in the coming month. You can store fiat currencies there: GBP, EUR, USD.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: That’s a wholesome overview! We've talked about the features available right now, but what are the latest developments, the things that you’ve just done and the hottest plans that you're up to implementing by the end of the year.
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: Of course, one of the main goals is to implement some cool features that Near users are willing to see. For example, USN - a substantial part of our audience uses USN, they even get paid in USN sometimes. That’s why we’ve added USN to our widget and we’re planning to add it to the NearPay cards. I think this will be up in a month or so. The second thing - we want to add mobile apps because at the moment NearPay is only a web wallet. Our mobile apps are already under review on Google Play and AppStore. We’re waiting to see them live in a couple of weeks. The third point - we want to launch physical cards. Virtual cards are fine, but I want to also pay with NearPay in the cafes, restaurants, and usual shops, so physical cards are coming up. I hope that we will implement them next month. We’re also looking forward to the referral program and some other things, but I won’t talk about it today. Maybe next week or month:) Speaking about on-ramp solutions, we’ve already added NEAR, USN, AURORA, and we’re going to add more geos. For example, currentlyt we don’t accept payments from some countries, but it's a temporary problem in many aspects. We’re willing to add Ukraine as well as Turkey and Asian countries to make NearPay accessible in as many countries as possible. Many people in the Near ecosystem aren’t from Europe, they live in other parts of the world and we want to cover these geos.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Wow! These plans sound like you have a lot of things to accomplish by the end of the year. A lot of work! Surely, it should be interesting for everybody on the team and in the community. Actually, I liked the point about USN because I know that the community is very eager about USN things. From our side, the Near Explorer we’ve built will also have the functionality of displaying diverse tokens including USN. This is a point of correlation in our plans, and that’s just awesome! Oh, and you’ve actually touched on one question that is on the list about the countries where NearPay is available and in particular, how you choose them. What are the criteria?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: We’re basically limited by licenses and some other legal stuff. Currently, the supported countries in the widget and wallet/card are different. The on-ramp widget supports around 56 countries among which are the European countries, the USA, Brazil, India, Japan and so on. The wallet and card support 90 countries, however, the NearPay card is not available in some of them. We only issue cards for the EEA and the UK residents. Other countries’ residents can only register the NearPay wallet and use its functionality: buy, sell, transfer crypto. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to covering more countries. We don’t really “choose countries”, because we’re limited by our legal set up. We have to follow the requirements of the banks, Estonian, Czech and UK legislation.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Right. Obviously, most of the crypto projects are limited with legal issues. These are some perks of the CeFi that hinder the fast development and mass adoption of crypto. That’s sad, but we’re working on it.
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: This is necessary to foster ties between crypto and fiat, and we’ve already got used to KYC.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Since we started with the KYC discussion, we can go on with the question from our list: why does NearPay use KYC? Why do you believe it’s crucial?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: We deal with fiat money, and, for example, in our NearPay wallet the user can store it and we allow to make bank transfers. The limits are really high, hence we need to follow the rules set by the banks and licenses. Of course, we want to be crypto-friendly, but we still need to follow the rules so that our users can bridge crypto and fiat. Right now we do ask for some documents, for example, for the NearPay card and wallet you need to present the national ID, driver license or passport and a proof-of-address, so we can open an account. We also ask for the residence documents in case you want to order a card. We’re trying to make the process more seamless with the NearPay widget and not require KYC for small transactions of $50 or EUR50. We’re working on improving the current KYC procedure, but we still require documents to use the NearPay widget at the moment.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: I totally understand that. Since CeFi is still there, we still need to comply. There are people not used to crypto and they need KYC to feel safer.
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: I think KYC doesn’t help people, it helps the whole thing to work. Though KYC is quite easy. I took some tests with my friends, many of them passed the KYC in 5 minutes having all the documents at hand. If you’re good to go, you just pass it.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Depends on the person. I do comply with KYC sometimes, but in some cases I’d rather not reveal my personality. Also depending on what cryptocurrency you use, some people prefer total anonymity. Alright, could you please, tell us about NearPay partnerships or recent collaborations, if any?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: We really work a lot with USN. We like these guys, they’re really helping and responsive. USN is already available through our widger and will be soon available through our wallet and cards. This is the main partnership right now. We also partner with Aurora, and they’re cool too. And I think we’ll have some more partnerships, but I can’t tell you at the moment. Follow our Twitter and we’ll eventually let you know!
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Teasers are great for the community, that’s a great way to engage with the people who follow the project. Since you’ve mentioned a lot of Near ecosystem projects as your partners, could you please share why you chose Near for building NearPay?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: There are two main reasons to highlight. The first one is technology. We liked the tech, it’s really good for both users and developers. It has fast and cheap transactions, and for me as a user it's brilliant. There’s also a lot of useful stuff for developers like smart contracts. For example, we had a hackathon with the company last month and we created 3 different projects using smart contracts, so it’s really easy. The second reason is the community. It is very friendly and most if not all of the projects that we reached out to helped us grow our user base and brought some ideas to the table. They’re open-minded and open to collaboration plus the ecosystem is fast-growing.
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: The community is sometimes one of the best things in the crypto space because you can go there and ask for feedback, especially, if it is something relevant for the project. Actually the next question is about the community: what’s the best thing about the NearPay user community? What can you highlight about your users and your Twitter followers?
Ivan Ilin [NearPay]: Well, NearPay users have a great sense of humour. When we announced our meme project, we received a lot of ideas and had a lot of fun with our team reviewing community submissions. The second thing is that they have a great understanding of the product. When we ask questions about our product, we get a lot of replies. Lastly, they’re really active, and we get a lot of feedback and questions on a daily basis. This is all about them: they’re humorous, they dig deeply into our product and they give us a lot of feedback!
Liza [GetBlock Explorer]: Sounds awesome! I love humorous communities because some communities are quite salty but when it comes to Near in general and separate projects in particular, most people are very nice, friendly and open to feedback which is so crucial for the crypto space.
Well, this is it with the general block of questions! If you wish to listen to Ivan answering the community questions, check out the AMA recording here, starting from 21:43.