Christian Duffus is the CEO of Vite.money, a new web-service that enables you to invest your spare change into a diversified portfolio of the top cryptocurrencies.
Give us a little summary of your background.
“I started my career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, I’m probably older than I look, but in the late 90s, I saw the first internet boom take place. From then on, my career interests were changed forever.” When at business school at UVA, Christian was heavily involved in the tech scene. He founded the first government payment processor called Govolution
. After building that up and selling it to a private equity firm, he then went on to become the Deputy CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee. Following that, he was the Co-Founder of LEAF college savings
, a student loan repayment program. Now, Vite Money is his life. “When I saw this thing called the blockchain, I rethought how I could re-architect existing platforms. I started investing back in 2014, from then, I’ve been doing a ton of research on business models in the space. In 2017, when things picked up, it hit me one day. The real mass market is essentially similar to a mint.com
. Something that provides an easier on-ramp to the ecosystem.”
How are you addressing people’s fears with cryptocurrency?
“I’m address the two biggest issues for new investors in the space:
1) Is bitcoin/eth/ripple overvalued? How do I put together a risk budget? The reality is, you should place little amounts of money over an extending period of time, ie. dollar cost average. This builds in risk management.
2) With the round up component, this simple algorithm helps people put together this investment budget. After you put it together, you can decide what to put your money into.”
Vite Money also gives people a list of options. It can be equally weighted, a bitcoin focused portfolio, just bitcoin, etc. You make your own ETF. “We’re user-friendly and sit on top of multiple exchanges, essentially a meta-wallet. So we can support any different investment combo.” Think Acorns
When’s the launch date for Vite Money?
Can you speak a little about how you have seen the fintech space evolving? How do you see Vite Money fit into that?
“The only thing that resonates with people is the investment side.” Coming from a traditional fintech background, he had an epiphany.
“If you walked into a bank tomorrow, and said ‘Hey, I want to open up an account. A person will give you a cup of coffee and a bunch of forms with minimums and fees. If you have a crypto wallet, there are no minimums or fees to hold your money, there’s network fees, but that’s it.”
People are tossing fees and minimums at banks for better and newer options in the fintech space. We’ve seen this with an increase in investing and savings apps, such as Rize
“Tokenization to me is really the ability to, at nano level, cost-effectively account for behaviors and transactions that never have been economically done before. Whether that’s a byte of data, how many steps you took...all of these things are accounted for.” Tokens are in fact a breakthrough in open network design. It enables the creation of open, decentralized networks that combine the best architectural properties of open and proprietary networks. It also introduces new ways to incentivize open network participants, including users, developers, investors, and service providers. Christian’s a believer in tokenization. Actually, Vite has their own token to compensate people. These engagement tokens correlate with how many transactions you do and can be used to graduate to premium service offerings.
Many don’t realize how hard it is to bring a fintech company to life, and many believe that some fintech companies are not secure. Can you talk about the hoops and regulations you have to go through, as well as how you make sure your product is secure?
“Essentially you are renting a charter. You have to go through regular compliance audits. With Plaid
, it’s more straightforward than working with a bank directly. One of the great things about the crypto ecosystem is that all the major platforms have APIs. We [Vite Money] sit on top of all of them and leverage their web services to provide more user-friendly tools.”
What’s your business model?
“Because we don’t hold assets like Acorns, we’re not in that assets under management world. That said, we do provide a level of tools. We’re planning to offer a free tier of service, and then once people start using it, charge a fee based on overall usage or different levels.”
What resources do you use to stay updated?
“I look at Coindesk, but where I get a lot of good info is reddit.”
Where is your favorite place to work in DC?
“The parks on a sunny day. Actually, I’m going to refine that to the National Portrait Gallery. Any of the Swissionian parts. It’s nice if you want to clear your head and have a place that’s quiet and scenic.”
Are you watching any specific coin, ICO or company right now?
“It’s Ethereums break out year, not that it hasn’t already broken out. To me, it’s one of those coins where people are finally understanding the power of it.”
What’s your best productivity tip?
“I’m a planner, I like to draw and map things out before doing anything. I’m a reluctant architect, so I like drawing and diagramming. I’ll diagram processes and ideas sometimes years before I actually implement them.”