We ask buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors for their thoughts on the industry … and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them busy!
This week our 6 questions go to Sanja Kon, CEO of Utrust
Sanja Kon is the CEO of Utrust, a blockchain-native payments ecosystem that aims to bridge the gap between tomorrow’s money and traditional e-commerce. At Utrust, her main focus is on working with key international players to improve the accessibility of digital assets and increase adoption by cryptocurrency traders. Prior to joining Utrust, Kon spent more than a decade in the corporate world, working for several Fortune 500 companies. At eBay, she led the European Partnership Strategy and built key global relationships to improve the selling experience for eBay professional sellers. At PayPal, her team was responsible for delivering and executing the payment experience solution for market participants. Kon is fascinated by technological innovations and disruptive startups and is passionately committed to promoting diversity and inclusion issues.
1 – What does decentralization mean to you and why is it important?
I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and saw the devastating economic and political impact of the war on individuals and businesses in ex-Yugoslavia. Most of us have the privilege of living in a developed country with relatively stable currencies and governments. Therefore, we do not often think about the consequences of placing our trust in governments, institutions and organizations. However, billions of people today live in countries with unstable governments, wars and high inflation. This is exactly where decentralization plays a key role. For me, decentralization means taking control of money, finances and assets into your own hands. It is therefore not surprising that the acceptance of cryptocurrencies is higher in countries with a failing financial system and a massive devaluation of the local currency such as Turkey, Brazil or Colombia. People are finally finding a solution to secure their wealth and stay in control.
2 – What do you think will be the biggest trend in the blockchain for the next 12 months?
I am very excited to see DeFi gain more adoption over the next 12 months and this is the trend that I will be following very closely. For people in the crypto room, DeFi is already “old news”. The biggest challenge, however, will be how we can improve the accessibility of the services for people who are not yet familiar with crypto. Early numbers and growth are very exciting: DeFi’s total locked down value has already increased from $ 680 million in January 2020 to $ 41 billion in February 2021! People need to understand the principles of decentralized applications, such as the fact that these applications belong to the users. Therefore, users not only benefit financially from them, but also help improve the products themselves. So I’m curious to see how the educational aspects will improve on these platforms in order to attract new customers. Last but not least, simplifying the user experience will also be an essential aspect in promoting adoption.
3 – What is the most embarrassing moment of your life?
When I worked at Vodafone in the early years of my career, I did a graduation program where I changed roles every five to six months to see as many departments as possible. In my second rotation, I was assigned to the Enterprise Sales Team, where I had to shadow salespeople for a few weeks. The first day my onboarding friend introduced me to the team, I didn’t notice there was a huge cardboard box on the floor in front of me and fell right into the box in front of the entire office as I walked! People are still talking about it today, even if more than 10 years have passed!
4 – What influenced you the most? Why?
When my grandmother died years ago, I entered a phase of spiritual exploration and enlightenment. I wanted to understand the greater purpose of life, what life is about and especially what happens after physical death. I’ve read a lot of books in the field, however Many lives, many masters by Dr. Brian Weiss was the one who fundamentally changed my conception of life. The book talks about the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a traditional psychotherapist who inadvertently started taking patients back in time. As a doctor and scientist, he initially did not believe in supernatural events at all, which I liked very much at the time, as I never questioned life as we know it. I can only recommend this book as it provides very valid scientific evidence for reincarnation. The more I know about this subject, the less I really know and this is very exciting to me as our existence is much deeper and richer than what we can see.
5 – What will happen to Bitcoin and Ethereum in the next 10 years?
I see a different path for Bitcoin and Ethereum in the next 10 years. I believe Bitcoin is picking up the pace and cementing its position as a store of value. We saw this particularly in 2020 when the rise in Bitcoin was driven by institutional investment. The inclusion of such large players in space gives it the legitimacy to drive its growth for the future. I believe that in the next 10 years more and more companies, corporations and individuals will be interested in allocating percentages of their portfolios to a unique store of value. The trustworthy and permissionless properties of the network as well as the fixed delivery quantity will ensure that the holders keep increasing and payments with the currency also follow. In terms of Ethereum, I believe this will fuel an entirely new subset of our economy and accelerate the adoption of decentralized financial services. In this new economy, there is no need to rely on central financial intermediaries such as banks to provide traditional financial services as smart contracts over blockchains create protocols to replace the existing financial services more transparently. Ethereum will also improve the accessibility of funds and make it available to everyone to improve financial inclusivity around the world.
6 – What are your parents / significant other / friends / children telling you for?
My impatience! I’m very motivated and quick, so I get very impatient when I have to wait for something to happen or when other people are slow. This shows up in everyday life in things like waiting in a queue; I’ll probably choose not to wait at the grocery store at all instead of even having to wait five to ten minutes. Fortunately, most purchases can be made online! The other thing my friends often tell me is to relax more: I’m always on the go. When I’m not working, I either learn something, exercise, or feed my mind one way or another. While this is great, it’s also important to relax, and I’ve improved that a lot in the past few years by spending more time on things like meditation, mindfulness, or just little pleasures like watching a movie or a TV series .