London based bitcoin exchange Wirex recently re-branded launching a suite of tools for bitcoin users, while also now focusing on targeting non-bitcoin users, in an attempt to capture a bigger market that uses remittance corridors to send money including the unbanked.
Pavel Matveev is one of the co-founders of Wirex who used to work at Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas, and says that Wirex is looking to apply for an e-money license once the regulation framework is defined for it in the UK. Wirex raised money via crowdfunding last September and is now negotiating a series-A funding round with venture capitalists to raise another $1.5 million.
Dmitry Lazarichev is the other co-founder of Wirex, and in an interview with Euromoney, he said,
“We are trying to break down the border between crypto and fiat currencies and bring to customers the best of both worlds, […] essentially, this is about bringing the benefits of blockchain technology to the conventional banking world. We already have more than 20,000 customers in 130 countries that we have shipped cards to. We are now growing very fast.”
Wirex sees itself as a first mover in this personal banking hybrid service between the fiat and cryptocurrency worlds. Wirex isn’t the first bitcoin exchange company though to apply for an e-money license in the UK. Recently Circle Financial was the first to apply for and receive the license in the UK, and Bitstamp is also applying for one which they hope to receive in the near future.
In the UK bitcoin is not yet regulated, although Wirex continues to operate as the UK has been favorable to fintech companies. Wirex’s banking partner is WaveCrest, an e-money issuer licensed by the Financial Services Commission of Gibraltar, which has passported its licence across Europe. WaveCrest is a principal member of MasterCard in Gibraltar and the UK and a principal member of Visa in Gibraltar.
In regards to UK regulation, Matveev said,
“The blockchain world is new and we are trying to anticipate the regulations flooding into it. For example, we are talking to [blockchain intelligence firm] Elliptic about ways to do due diligence around addresses and gain a clear picture of where money is coming from and going to. And we are putting in place the same kind of know-your-customer and anti-money laundering infrastructure that already covers conventional bank accounts and debit cards.”