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Sveinn Valfells (Monerium): "We have around 2,500 customers, including almost 100 companies".

Sveinn Valfells (Monerium): "We have around 2,500 customers, including almost 100 companies".

Still little known to the public, Icelandic stablecoin Monerium has a good chance of being the first project to be regulated in Europe when MiCA comes into force. We spoke to its CEO, Sveinn Valfells, who explains the strategy.

The Big Whale: You are the only stablecoin well positioned to be regulated in Europe from 30 June, but little is known about you. What is the history of Monerium?

Sveinn Valfells: I am already an old hand in the ecosystem as I discovered Bitcoin in 2011. I have a background in cryptography so I was quickly able to understand that the first of the cryptos had all the characteristics to become a new asset class, but also to shake up the way we exchange money.

It was really at the launch of Ethereum in 2015 that we bet on the fact that the future of traditional currencies was on public blockchains. That's how Monerium was born, and then our stablecoin, EURe, which we launched in 2022.

In your opinion, what's the point of a stablecoin?

We really started betting on it when Ethereum came along. With this public blockchain, the tokenisation of assets could grow enormously. But to exchange these assets, you necessarily need a regulated settlement asset directly on the blockchain.

Stablecoins can also be used by individuals who want to exchange traditional money via the blockchain. In fact, that's what we're doing because EURe is available on three blockchains: Ethereum, Polygon and Gnosis.

There are still a lot of brakes and we think that, like the Internet before it, it will take a decade before crypto becomes mainstream. Without a fully on-chain traditional currency, there will be no mass adoption.

"Digital euro for individuals is very unlikely to see the light of day"

How do you welcome the likely launch of a digital euro that promises to provide the same benefits as your stablecoin?

We think the digital euro is very unlikely to see the light of day, at least for individuals. The European Central Bank was not designed to serve individuals or non-financial companies directly. Historically, private companies have performed this role.

In line with this vision, we are banking on the fact that stablecoins, and rather companies offering traditional forms of on-chain currency, will multiply in Europe, which is a very good thing. They will provide this service and not the central bank directly.

So are stablecoin projects likely to multiply?

Exactly, stablecoins regulated and supervised by the European Central Bank where part of their reserve can even be invested. Many major banks and well-known financial players in Europe are taking a close interest in this subject.

Are you working with any of them?

Yes, but you'll understand that I can't name them at the moment. In any case, we position ourselves as a company offering infrastructure solutions for circulating traditional money via blockchain.

What proportion of your customers are traditional businesses?

At the moment, it's essentially crypto. It was primarily the crypto community that we were targeting when we launched our stablecoin. For the moment, it's the companies native to the ecosystem that are driving innovation forward. Even though things are progressing well, most of the traditional players are still cautious for reasons of regulation but also reputation.

What is the business model for your stablecoin?

We invest part of our reserve in government bonds, like most electronic money institutions.

We also provide white label tokenisation services or to enable companies to launch their own stablecoin. This makes up a significant part of the company's turnover. At the moment, we have around 2,500 customers, including almost 100 companies.

Your stablecoin has a capitalisation of just €10 million, how do you plan to develop it?

That's true, but it was only launched in 2022 and started to develop seriously in 2023. The great advantage of EURe is that it is already regulated under MiCA standards (which came into force on 30 June for stablecoins) because we already have e-money approval. This is one of the reasons why many players, such as Gnosis, have shown an interest in integrating it into their systems quickly.

By 2024, our aim is to increase its market capitalisation by a factor of 10. Currently, we have around 12,000 identified holders of our stablecoin and we are working on several tokenisation projects. We also offer stablecoin in sterling and dollars.

You had the flair to opt for an e-money licence from the outset, how do you explain this?

Actually, we obtained this licence in 2019. For us, e-money appeared to be the simplest and safest regulatory way of issuing the equivalent of a traditional currency on blockchain without having to obtain a bespoke licence from the regulator.

Many stablecoins have developed without a framework and are now facing a major regulatory challenge to continue operating in Europe. Our promise may be less attractive on paper (because there is no associated return, editor's note) but it is simple: to be able to exchange traditional money at any time and almost instantaneously without an intermediary.

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