INTERVIEW WITH:CLAUDE EGUIENTA, CEO OF TELCOIN
It is our great pleasure to introduce to you to one of our most inspiring CEOs in the business. This man is as ambitious as he is humble, his whole life revolves around making the impossible possible for those who would otherwise be left out. The brainchild of Telcoin is making it clear that Telcoin is here to stay and will impact the world in the most innovative and yet simplest way that you can think of: by using your phone!
For those who are not aware of who you are, who is Claude Eguienta?
As cliché as it sounds, Claude Eguienta is a software engineer who wants to make the world better, one transaction at a time.
I grew up in France, studied in China and in the US, and have been living in Japan for most of my professional life, where I have been working on multiple projects for various kinds of companies. I mostly use Linux, and I like freedom and distributed systems.
Overall, I tend to like projects that move the world towards a direction in which people are closer to owning their stuff, and I want Telcoin to help people take control of their financial life.
What is Telcoin and what advantages does it have over current remittance services, like MoneyGram and WesternUnion? In other words, why would anyone use Telcoin instead of Western Union?
Telcoin is about financial inclusion, we build financial services, and remittances happens to be the first one. Our remittance product will be easier to access because it’s on your phone, simpler to use because our app was made by an excellent product team, affordable because we have very little overhead and we’re using better tech, and safe because you will be in control of your funds during the transaction, thanks again to the Blockchain.
Where does your drive and motivation to especially focus on ‘The Unbanked’ come from? Why is this project so important to you?
Telcoin wants to empower people, and I tend to be very driven in general about things that help users make or save money. My previous smaller businesses all focused on this, and the last startup I worked on (with Yace, our current VP of Marketing) was about allowing content creators to live from their craft by allowing users to tip them. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know where this drive comes from, but it’s maybe because the kid in me just wants everyone to be closer to the kid inside of them, the voice that tells them to do what they want. I think I could stay like this because of the people I surround myself with, a bunch of geniuses passionate about freedom, equality, and high quality products.
One day, I had a chat with one of them, Toby (from TenX), we were talking about our childhoods, and I explained him that I was most definitely the poorest guy in the Junior High School I attended, as my mother didn’t want us to live in projects forever, afraid it was going to limit my chances in life. He looked at me and said “This is where the fire comes from”. I think he’s right. Being poor and impoverished isn’t great, but facing financial struggle in a place filled with middle class kids can probably trigger something in you. Witnessing differences in wealth is something, experiencing it is another one.
This story is shared among so many people at Telcoin, and so many of my friends (in addition to somehow having a knack for solving problems in general). Yace, Alix, Bad, Eric and Naïm, all faced tough times growing up, and decided not to stay on the sidelines, but to act and take a shot at helping people. It’s much simpler to have this type of drive when people around you share it.
Some of our well known community members believe that Telcoin is going to be huge. As CEO and founder of Telcoin, can you explain to us what impact Telcoin will have on the financial situation of the less fortunate?
Telcoin exists to improve the financial situation of people, and will likely have a stronger effect for the less fortunate in the beginning. This will start with remittances. Every year, dozens of millions of people send money to their family back home using obsolete means that Telcoin will greatly improve on. We are aware that financial inclusion doesn’t stop there, and we will bring additional services for our users, always following the same rationale, simple, affordable, open and safe.
How do you decide what countries to approach as a potential market and which one not to? Are there any specific criteria?
Telcoin wants to provide services globally so in theory every market is a potential market, and instead of a filter we have a priority list. The way we order this list is based on our relationships with mobile operators, the volume of remittances, and how comfortably we can approach regulators. I can’t name countries yet because we don’t really want to disclose anything, but it’s clear that South East Asia makes a lot of sense for us right now.
You often mention in interviews that Telcoin has the ‘staying power’. What do you mean by that?
Telcoin wants to be useful to people. In any nascent industry, things come and go, and the most useful things stay. That’s what the journalists meant, staying power derived from usability.
I can imagine you running into quite some difficulties raising attention and longevity to the project. What are the biggest challenges you have had to face and what did it take to really get the groundwork ready for this ambitious project?
The road towards providing good services to everyone is long and full of obstacles, but nothing is too big for our excellent team. We’re bringing something new using distribution channels that have never been leveraged this way before, and this brings a lot of challenges. Sales, tech, communication, and compliance are all very special.
Doing corporate sales is already a dark art in itself, and no telecom provider wants to partner with people doing something illegal, which brings the question: “what does being legal mean?” in every place where we want to bring the solution to users. We do not want to use grey areas because this can lead to users with locked funds and other terrible outcomes that do not match what we consider to be right. We also have to build software made for people who are not part of the Crypto world, or even the Tech world, which is a great deal of challenge. We have to bring unique and innovative safety features in the middle of a simple user experience.
Within every company there are short, medium and long-term goals. To get a sense of how big the operation is, can you walk us through these phases and explain what we can expect to see from your team in the future?
Telcoin values transparency, so most of our plans are in the whitepaper. Our short and mid-term goals are mostly about bringing efficient and affordable remittances worldwide thanks to mobile operators. Our longer term goals are about completing the financial inclusion story for our users and provide high quality services that gives them power over their assets.
In case any of the telecom providers are reading this interview who are still not sure whether they want to get on board or not. What message do you have for them?
Financial services are a natural evolution for your business, leveraging the bond of trust you built with your users over a long time. Telcoin, being secure and fully compliant with regulations, is the simplest and safest way to join the digital economy at a global scale.
Do you have any final thoughts that you would like share with our readers?
We thank you for your time.
Well, thank you for the interview!