On Mar 24, 2022 3PM UTC, Velo Labs kicked off the company’s first “Leadership Fireside AMA”, a live chat series with the leadership of Velo. In the first session, we were joined by Mark Fisher, the newly appointed CMO of Velo Labs to breakdown his plan for marketing, as well as answer some questions from the community.
Below is the transcription of the session.
Hello and welcome everyone to our Velo Leadership Fireside AMA!!!!
I’m JB, and I’m honored to be the guest host in today’s session.
I’m super excited to be joined by Velo’s CMO, Mark Fisher.
Mark, welcome and thanks for being here.
Hi JB! Great to be here.
Before we jump in… just to give everyone a breakdown of today’s format:
We will start today with some general questions to Mark, surrounding his background and his plan for marketing at Velo.
Then we will move on to some community questions, sourced from Twitter and Facebook (thanks everyone for posting your questions!)
Then, if we have time, we will take a handful of live questions from the community.
Let’s get started!
So Mark, I’m sure you have a ton of things to talk about today and there are a lot of community questions to answer, but why don’t we start with you telling us a little about yourself.
Of course, JB. That sounds great.
Hi everyone, I’m Mark. As those of you in the community may know, I recently joined Velo as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.
I’m very excited to be here with you all today and I’m looking forward to a great session!
Just to start off, here’s some background on me. I’ve spent my career at the intersection of marketing, technology, and finance.
Early in my career, I spent time on large-scale technology projects, but the past 15 years have been spent building early-stage startups through significant growth phases.
I’m deeply interested in fintech, and prior to Velo I also ran Marketing for two different fintech companies (Addepar and Paystand), building the Marketing organization from the ground up.
Just a few highlights that might be interesting for the community:
- Early in my career, I helped take QuinStreet through IPO and built our multi-million dollar B2B marketing practice
- Ran global demand generation for Nutanix leading up to the company’s IPO
- Built brand strategy and led the Marketing organization for Addepar — currently the leading wealth management platform for institutional investors, helping support the company through Series D
- Built the Marketing organization at Paystand and helped take the company from Series A to Series C with over 1000% growth in revenue during that time
I’m also very passionate about blockchain and the transformational power of web3.
At Paystand, we were building B2B payment technology to change the way businesses get paid and eliminate inefficiency in the financial system.
And that’s really what drew me to Velo — the mission to build technology that changes the financial system on an even greater scale.
One other area that drew me to Velo was our focus on expanding inclusion and access to the financial system for the unbanked and underbanked.
Building a cross-border payment network that makes it easier for millions of people to access the financial system in a way they couldn’t before is inspiring and I’m honored to play a part in bringing it to life.
Great, thanks Mark!
It’s awesome to get an understanding of your past experience!
So moving on to the next question…
As the new CMO of Velo, I think the community would love to get your perspective on the project as a whole and an idea of some of your plans in both the short and long-run?
Of course, JB, that’s a great question to start with so I’ll try to break it down.
Let’s start with my view of the current state: clearly Velo is in the early stages of a long-term company build and mission.
The goal of the Velo project is ambitious and building new international payment infrastructure is complex, so I think there’s a lot of work to be done, both on the brand, marketing, and positioning front, but also on the technology and business development front.
We’re truly just scratching the surface with our business model, our partnerships, and technology.
With that said, here are a few thoughts about the current state:
The team has done a fantastic job of building core technology and getting our business model jump-started.
We have five partnerships in place (as of today :)) and many more in the works. On the technology front we’ve made significant strides in our remittance / cross-border infrastructure.
And our product roadmap is strong.
So, I’d say the foundations are very solid and there’s a lot of “raw material” for Marketing to work with at this early stage.
I also think, being honest, there are opportunities for us to be better both with respect to 1) the visibility of the Velo project and 2) our engagement with the community and investors.
That’s something I’ve set out to change immediately and one of the things I’m excited about is our new community engagement framework.
Starting in Q2 we’ll be providing:
- Official roadmap updates quarterly and more frequent (e.g. monthly) informal updates to keep our community informed of progress
- Quarterly AMAs (like this one) and other interaction opportunities with our executives and tech team
- Proactive communication of Velo project partnerships, news, or various exchange updates (like today’s partnership announcement 🎉)
- New community opportunities both through Telegram and other channels for feedback and suggestions
Because we have a token that is available for retail and institutional traders to invest in, we’re also aware of the economic realities of our token market cap and price, which isn’t always a reflection of the current state or internal progress of the project itself.
So, now to the second part of the question:
In the short-term, I’m excited first and foremost to build the Marketing function here at Velo.
And there’s a lot of work to do 🙂
Here’s a few things that are on my short-term roadmap:
1) Working more closely with our Product team to craft market-facing product marketing campaigns for our core products, which include cross-border remittance and our VeloFCX trading platform, among others.
2) Developing more awareness and opportunities to learn about our core cross-border payment infrastructure and partnerships.
3) Building relationships with press, media, exchanges, and key thought leaders to anchor marketing campaigns as we grow the Marketing organization.
Finally, to the third and last part of your question: in the long-term, I’m focused on building the Velo brand.
Our goal at Velo is to change financial infrastructure so that more people can access the financial system easier, faster, and cheaper.
What that means from a Marketing perspective is we need to build the capabilities to support a global approach to the business.
That will happen by:
- Creating a robust performance and demand generation machine that helps attract more anchors to our network
- Partnering with our clients and technology providers to tell unique stories to the market to surface key issues and solutions to current financial infrastructure problems
- Building more opportunities for our community to develop on and invest in the Velo platform
We need a great team to make all that come to life and so I’m very focused right now on establishing our processes and hiring the best people.
Just a small side note: Many people make the crypto space out to be unique and different from other investment opportunities — and certainly, there are differences to investing in and building crypto projects that we must take into account.
But any business whose utility (in this case our token) is grounded in the value of the technology and product will ultimately succeed by focusing on business growth, revenue, and product adoption.
That’s another way of saying: what’s good for the growth of the business long-term will also be good for the growth of the token price long-term and that keeps our marketing and business interests aligned with those of our investors.
I hope that helps answer the question, JB. Lots to unpack.
Amazing Mark, thank you!
I’m sure everyone appreciates all that detail.
So touching on some of those marketing goals you mentioned…
…a question we all have is how do you tackle the challenge of turning these goals / visions into reality?
…importantly, what are the standout priorities from your perspective?
Well, turning goals and vision into reality is all about execution.
We can’t do everything at once and we can’t do everything overnight, so we have to focus on executing consistently across our Marketing roadmap.
In the short-term, that means making sure we stay focused on a few key things:
1) hiring talented people so we can increase our scope of activities
2) supporting our core product roadmap with clear, targeted campaigns
3) increasing the heartbeat of communications and information coming from Velo to the marketplace and our community
It also means tuning out the day-to-day noise of short-term market concerns. We have a long-term mission here at Velo and we need to stay focused on building the company and supporting our products.
In the long-term, that means a core focus on building everything marketing-related to support our cross-border payment infrastructure.
It perhaps might not seem sexy but it is the game-changing product and technology that will increase the global brand presence of the Velo project.
With respect to our priorities, we are focused on:
1) Increasing awareness and adoption for our cross-border payments infrastructure
2) Driving engagement and use of our new product offerings like FCX and the Velo dashboard
3) Supporting our community and investors and providing more opportunities for collaboration and communication
As I mentioned above, I’ve been working internally to streamline and communicate our plans and progress to the broader community and they will see increased opportunities for engagement starting now (and in Q2 and beyond).
We’re still a small Marketing team but we’re committed to more dialogue and discussion.
We’ve also made changes to our process for communications and engagement with our institutional investors and we will continue to lean in closer to them as we expand our institutional marketing and cross-border payment infrastructure.
I hope that clarified a few things for the community. Back to you, JB.
Great, thanks Mark!
I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say, we very much appreciate the increased engagement and the improvements in communication!
We know that Velo Labs’ core product focus to date, has been revolutionizing cross-border payments.
However recently, we have seen Velo Labs announce two other products in your suite that sit separate from this: Velo Virtual Assets and Velo FCX.
I think the community would love a bit more insight on these additional offerings but first, why don’t we start with your plans for cross-border payments and what the team wants to achieve this year and how marketing will support it?
Yes, you’re right in that we’ve announced several other products recently on our roadmap (and I’ll share more about those in a moment).
That said, cross-border payments will continue to be Velo Labs’ core product and it is the anchor to our growth, both in Southeast Asia and globally.
The technology we built to support this cross-border payment infrastructure and ecosystem, Velo Digital Credits, serves as a core building block to Velo’s other products.
Our goal this year is to continue to add more anchors (financial institutions) to our payment network and increase the number of live corridors.
We already have one corridor live between Europe and Thailand and we expect several more soon.
In fact, I’m pleased to say that we *just* announced a new partnership today with PDAX for a remittance corridor in the Philippines, and we’re working on many more (watch our press announcements :))
It’s important to note that cross-border payments are very complex and so, signing new partners and launching new corridors involves many steps.
For a new remittance technology like Velo Digital Credits, setting up an anchor isn’t just a one-off process. Onboarding and transaction testing is critical and can be quite complicated.
Which is why building a global, B2B payment infrastructure is such a large project that takes time.
To date, we have signed with 5 different partners and have started to onboard them through the process leading to pilot transactions.
Once complete, we will see the real-world use cases of the Blockchain in cross-border payments across Europe, the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the United States.
We’re excited to ramp-up the volumes transacted on these corridors, following successful testing and product adoption. We will keep you updated on the progress as we go.
Our goal from a Marketing standpoint with respect to our cross-border payments product is threefold:
- First, raise more awareness for the solution through product marketing and robust information, press, and media outreach.
- Second, support our new partners and new remittance corridors with well-timed marketing campaigns.
- Third, work with our partners to tell unique and powerful stories to the market once our corridors go live.
Does that all make sense?
It sounds like there are some unique challenges, but also equally some exciting opportunities on the horizon.
We can’t wait!
Moving on to Velo FCX…
Could you please share with us a little about Velo FCX and the strategic importance of it in the Velo ecosystem?
Velo FCX is a product we are all excited about. In fact, I noted several questions from the community around FCX, how it’s different from other trading platforms, and how we plan to promote it, so now is a great time to discuss it.
First, we dropped a new video about FCX recently with our CEO and CPO that answers some key questions so I’m just going to link to that here for the community’s benefit:
But to dive in a little more, FCX plays a key role in the Velo ecosystem (even though it is a separate product from cross-border payments right now).
At the core of our cross-border payment infrastructure is the ability to send fiat currency across borders via the blockchain. We do that by using Velo Digital Credits and creating a stable currency exchange.
Well, FCX is actually an extension of that concept by giving institutional and retail traders the ability to trade currency pairs on a digital, decentralized exchange.
While the initial launch of FCX includes core functionality to trade six currency pairs, as we ramp up volume we’ll be turning on additional features like liquidity pools, staking opportunities, and the ability to trade exotic digital assets.
So unlike a “traditional” digital currency exchange, FCX will have a number of other key features built-in to create a robust fiat / digital currency trading platform with smart order routing and automated market makers.
And in addition to the Velo digital assets I mentioned, we’ll be extending trading capability to a wide inventory of Velo and non-Velo digital assets, extending to custom Velo digital credits (USDV, AUDV, HKDV etc), non-Velo stablecoins (USDT, USDC, DAI), Velo Tokens and ultimately even Bitcoin.
In the long run, it will become a blockchain-based currency exchange where everyone can easily exchange digital representations of fiat (1:1) at a lower fee.
Our early landing page is live at https://velo.org/fcx and we’ll be launching a Beta waitlist soon (we’ve opened it up to a select group of institutional traders right now).
When we do we’ll be sure to send out invites to the community. Back to you, JB.
That’s super exciting. 🔥🔥🔥
We’ll certainly keep an eye out for those invites!
Now, moving onto the third product in your suite, VVA or Velo Virtual Assets…
As some of the community may not be familiar with this offering, could you please give us a general overview of VVA and where it currently sits?
VVA was really an opportunistic product that the Velo team brought to market.
The team here at Velo created VVA last year and ultimately brought it to market in Q1 of this year.
But I should be a little more clear:
While the team at Velo completed our product roadmap and launched the VVA technology, the larger crypto market went through what we’ve all experienced: a significant downturn.
As such, the market demand for tokenized real estate offerings diminished and several of the partners involved in VVA decided to pause their projects.
Obviously, that wasn’t part of our plan and it was unfortunate. We share that sentiment with the community.
However, when the crypto market rebounds, we expect that demand will increase and when it does we are ready with the VVA technology and product.
Now, a bigger question is probably: “how does this fit into your larger roadmap?” And that is a very good question 🙂
I’d answer that by saying our core technology and the Velo Protocol (with its Digital Reserve System) creates the ability for us to flex into various projects where blockchain and tokenization can create opportunities that might not otherwise exist.
The commercial real estate space is a good example.
In the same way that our cross-border payment infrastructure makes it possible for people to more easily and efficiently send money, our ability to tokenize various assets that aren’t normally accessible gives retail investors access to new investment opportunities.
And in a broader sense, it creates more exposure and adoption of the Velo token, which is good for the long-term health of our project.
It does! And it sounds very promising!
It will be awesome to see this technology and use case in full swing!
And we appreciate you providing insight on all of these products Mark. No doubt we will keep our eyes and ears open for future announcements.
So on the topic of announcements, something I wanted to ask before we move onto the community questions; we all saw the pretty substantial burn Velo decided to undertake recently, 6 Billion if I’m not mistaken.
Can you give us a bit of background on what led to that decision? Why now? Why that amount etc.?
Thanks for asking that question. I know it’s been a topic of conversation in the community. You are correct. The total burn announced is 6 Billion VELO, with 1 Billion being burnt every month for the next 5 months. The first burn of 1 Billion happened on the 16th-17th of this month.
The token burn was done for two reasons:
First, it was absolutely the right thing for the company to do long-term.
When there is a supply level that ultimately is unnecessary and we can return that value back to the investors and community over the long run, it is our responsibility to do so.
It helps the company by strengthening our tokenomics and some of the key ratios that matter for things like % of tokens in circulating supply, which are important for further exchange listings.
Second, it was the right thing to do for the community.
If you look at the history of token burns across many projects, in some cases you do see an immediate spike but in most cases you see the effects over the long term as the lower supply is factored into the token circulation and use.
I believe there were also some questions in the community around burning tokens from reserve.
That is where most projects do large token burns from.
The alternative would be to burn from circulating supply, meaning we would have had to buy back a very large amount of tokens from our existing investors. However, we would rather use our capital to grow the business (e.g. hiring fantastic new employees and building new products).
I’ll also mention that I saw several questions come in about the specifics of the burn, when exactly we posted the TxHash, the timing of the burn completion, etc.
For all of those questions, I’d ask you to review the posts I already made in Telegram on March 16th while the burn was in progress and on March 17th when the burn was completed.
I detailed the logistics of the burn and there’s plenty of information there around the specifics (as well as in our Medium post).
I believe those posts are pinned here in the Official Telegram channel.
We’re committed to doing the right things for our investors and our community that further the strength of the Velo token and our project.
The burn will help in the long run and we’re glad to be able to do it.
I hope that helps, JB.
We appreciate that additional information.
Okay, now it’s time for our Q&A portion of the event.
In this section, Mark will answer questions collected from global Twitter and Facebook page.
Thanks to everyone who contributed and we’re sorry if we couldn’t include your specific question (there were a ton!) but we’ve done our best to grab the important themes.
In some cases, we’ve also combined several questions on the same topic into one larger question, that covers a number of issues.
Okay, jumping into the first question…
“Will there be any further changes in the current 2022 roadmap?” AND “Has Velo completed any milestone in accordance with the 2022 roadmap.”
First, I’d like to thank the community for being so engaged and asking many questions. Let’s jump into these.
These two questions are quite related so I’ll answer them both together.
With respect to milestones from the published 2022 roadmap, yes, we’ve completed 2 of the 3 listed milestones in Q1 2022, and were able to move up two of the Q2–2022 milestones into Q1. Let me detail that out:
1) Anchor integration enhancements to our sending and receiving capabilities for our core remittance product were completed.
This largely affects our corridor between Europe and Thailand through our partners Tempo and Bitazza, but we also made integration enhancements to additional corridors that will soon open, like our announcement today of the partnership with PDAX for our new Philippines corridor.
2) VVA was technically completed on the Velo side. We discussed this earlier during the VVA question. Unfortunately, demand-side appetite for the tokenized real estate offering lowered and we were not able to use the technology in a live project, but when demand returns our technology is complete and ready.
3) The third milestone was our Support for Velo on Ethereum.
We chose to push that back in favor of bringing FCX forward, which we launched this month.
So, two of the milestones from Q2 2022 (Cross Chain Order Aggregation and High Yield Staking Opportunities) were pulled forward into Q1 and materialized in the form of FCX which is a combination of those two milestones.
With respect to any further changes to the roadmap for 2022, that I cannot answer with certainty.
However, I can say that we will be providing an update on the Q2 2022 roadmap and the rest of the year’s planned roadmap in our next update to the Community and on our website at the beginning of Q2.
Having been at Velo for a month now, I’ve had a chance to meet with our Chief Product Officer, Armin Ajami, regularly and he and I are committed to providing more transparency and regular updates to the community.
Back to you, JB
Great, thanks Mark
On to question #2…
“Will we see more staking opportunities before the FCX release? Once FCX is released, will Velo continue to seek staking campaigns outside FCX?”
The answer to this question is 100% yes.
In fact, we just announced a new, limited-time staking opportunity this week in conjunction with our partner, Evry.Finance. Hopefully, everyone in the community saw that.
Between now and March 31st, you can stake VELO to earn VELO for a 40% APY over a 6-month lockup period.
The details of this are included on the Evry platform and also in our social channels.
Over time, we plan to include many more staking opportunities available directly on the FCX platform and also outside of the FCX platform.
Back to you, JB.
Okay, question #3: “In terms of marketing efforts do you have plans on scaling to different countries? Are there current or future plans of specifically marketing the product to non-Asian countries?”
Our Marketing focus right now is on Southeast Asia given we have phenomenal connections in the region and some of our initial remittance corridors begin or end there.
And yes, we intend to increase our marketing in the region significantly.
We’re currently running a KOL campaign in Thailand with lifestyle and retail-focused influencers to increase awareness for the Velo brand among more mainstream crypto and blockchain enthusiasts, which you may have seen if you are following our social channels and posts.
But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
We’re looking at expanding our Marketing campaigns to include more industry-focused content and influencers, and localizing that content across Southeast Asia (VN, KR, CN, TH, PH) and beyond.
Eventually, we do plan to market the product to non-Asian countries on a wider, retail basis.
But even in the short-term, some of our products are being selectively marketed to non-Asian countries.
FCX, for example, is in early launch and we are targeting institutional investors not only in SE Asia, but in various countries around the globe.
And, although you didn’t ask this specifically, we also intend to increase our community coverage to other countries outside SE Asia in the future.
Back to you, JB.
Thank you sir!
Okay Question #4 is a combination of several questions from the community on the same subject…
“After a drop in token price over the past several months, some investors are concerned. What is the team doing to ensure early investors and institutions don’t sell all of their tokens and how are you going to drive demand for Velo?”
This question has been surfaced in our community channel here on Telegram by several members, and I’d say it’s a natural question given the reality of the token price right now.
I’ve been in the finance and investment world for a long time and one thing that is always true: when prices drop and are low, sentiment is pessimistic and doom and gloom prevail.
When prices are high, everyone is a genius.
That doesn’t make the ups and downs easy to handle, though. I (and we) understand that. We understand the sentiment.
The reality is always somewhere in between and more importantly, short-term knee-jerk reactions on the business side are usually a recipe for disaster, whether that’s in the form of reactive marketing campaigns, reactive product decisions, or reactive company moves.
Of course, ultimately, investors are free to choose whatever project they’d like to invest in.
What I can say is the Velo team (and our large institutional investors) are long-term focused on building a best-in-class blockchain payment infrastructure with regional and global partners to power international payments.
It would make little sense for us or those investors to dump tokens or divest from the project over short-term token price fluctuations and we do not anticipate them doing so.
We, and our institutional investors, believe our project has significant long-term value.
As the network and infrastructure grow (remember, we’re still very young) the usage and circulation of the token will increase.
With it, the value of the token and the project should also increase.
As the CMO, the last part of the question is really the one I am focused on: how do we drive demand for Velo.
That comes down to understanding the various audiences who are potential partners with Velo or users of Velo products.
There’s no one formula but I can say we plan to create more awareness through regional campaigns, targeted marketing, traditional and digital channels, partnerships, and surfacing compelling content and stories.
It’s all part of building the brand, building a great internal team, and partnering with our community to raise awareness for the Velo project.
I also plan to spend time listening to and learning from our vibrant and active community who are passionate about the crypto, blockchain, and DeFi space.
This is a unique market and demand for Velo is going to come both from traditional B2B and bleeding edge B2C / DeFi / Web3, so it’s important to build campaigns that draw from and target both audiences.
I hope that helps answer the community questions on this one, JB.
Great, thank you Mark
Okay, question #5…
“Can you explain how Velo is superior/different to XRP? Why should someone invest in VELO instead of XRP?”
Thanks for this question.
I’ll try to answer that from a business perspective. What I believe you’re asking is ‘Why is Velo, which is built on the Stellar blockchain, better than Ripple, which is built on Ripple’s blokchain, for international payments?”
If so, I’d give the following answer:
First and foremost, Velo limits price volatility for the duration of the transaction as we use stable coins / digital credits as the bridge, whereas Ripple uses XRP, which has a highly fluctuating price.
Next, the Stellar blockchain has a higher (2x) volume capacity for transactions at 3,000 per second versus 1,500 for Ripple. This is better tailored for the high volumes driven by international payment.
Finally, it’s slightly less expensive.
Back to you, JB.
Awesome. Thanks Mark. Appreciate all those responses.
Okay community… time flies when you’re having fun!
It pains me to say we’ve run well over our allotted time, so we’re going to have to wrap up today’s Fireside AMA session.
But that said…
I know there are probably many more questions that you want to ask Mark
So we’re going to unmute the chat for a couple of minutes, to give you a chance to ask any remaining burning questions
And Mark will answer some of these in a follow-up post.
Sound good Mark?
Absolutely, JB. Sounds excellent. I’m looking forward to answering more of the questions. I saw so many come in via Twitter and FB and I know there isn’t time today to answer all of them. Let’s go!
Okay, the chat is unmuted — post away community! Of course, and as always, please be respectful and courteous 🙂
Okay we’re going to cap it there. Amazing all — thanks for the great questions.
As mentioned, Mark will answer some of these in a follow up post in the coming days.
Agreed and thanks to the community for the additional questions. I’ll do my best to answer these and some of the ones from Twitter / FB that the team compiles and get a post out to the community soon. I’d really like to thank the community for spending time with us today and for being so passionate and active.
I can assure you and the community that the Velo team is just as passionate and eager to continue making progress on the project.
And we look forward to communicating and collaborating with the community.
And so that brings us to the end of today’s Fireside AMA, with Velo’s CMO Mark Fisher!
I want to thank everyone for their amazing questions and a huge thanks to Mark for taking time out of his schedule to be here.
And a big thanks to the Velo community for your participation and your support in the Velo project!
Until next time! I’ll now hand the group back to the moderators. Thanks everyone!