Laurynas Jokubaitis on non-zero sum games, DeFi perspectives in global economies, and Voluto backstory.
Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?
My name is Laurynas Jokubaitis, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Voluto. I first started learning about Bitcoin in late 2013, being motivated by simple curiosity about what it is and how it works. A bit later, I went on to found my first company in an area unrelated to crypto. I was also making small angel investments in startups around this time. A friend founded a crypto gaming startup and was raising a small angel round in late 2016, and, after he had told me a lot about Ethereum (which didn’t exist in 2013), I ended up being the only investor in his startup. That’s how I got back into crypto, almost by accident. Being at heart a builder, I started reading about Ethereum and was blown away by the possibilities for building on the autonomous code.
In 2018 I went on to found Monetha (a reputation and digital identity company) that raised $37m dollars. The same year, I also have been selected as one of the Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” in Europe. I then sold my stake in the company in the spring of 2019.
Immediately after selling Monetha, I knew that I was going to stay in crypto and build stuff there. DeFi was starting to gain traction, and it made so much sense to me, since crypto is a financial and software innovation, that one of the early applications of autonomous code would be “autonomous finance in a broader spectrum than just currency.” I was extremely excited about the opportunity to create a financial system on code.
Together with other two co-founders Erikas and Lukas, I went on to found Voluto, a pan-European, high-interest savings account powered by DeFi. For a regular user, Voluto is like any other fintech app. We remove all of the “crypto complexities” involved with exchanging euros for USDC/Dai and supplying them to Compound. Users make a deposit, see their balances in euros, and can withdraw their funds at any time, all with no fees. We strive to make sure that any regular fintech user in Europe has the opportunity to earn a much higher yield on his or her savings than traditional banks can offer.
What’s Voluto backstory?
Three main factors motivated the founding of Voluto:
- My personal experience of paying negative interest rates on my bank account balance in Switzerland;
- The fact that the current macroeconomic environment and the traditional banking system seem to be creating a situation of negative interest rates which are here to stay (the current European Central Bank interest rate is -0.5%); and
- the enormous savings account market in Europe and worldwide.
Now, with the help of cutting-edge technology, there is an opportunity to create a much better banking experience for users than the old system can provide. So far, we have funded Voluto with our own money and plan to raise our seed round this year.
How you got early customers, and what’s your business model?
We launched Voluto to our early subscribers on February 5th, 2020, and, though DeFi is still a new and somewhat risky concept, the reaction has been much better than we expected. Since the launch, the number of active Voluto users has been growing by 15% weekly on average—and without any additional marketing. Users are already spreading the word about DeFi to their family members and friends.
At the moment, we are completely focused on creating the best product and guaranteeing that the DeFi experience has no “crypto-related hassles.” We strive to make sure that any regular fintech user in Europe will have the opportunity to earn a much higher yield on his or her savings than is possible in the traditional banking system. At the moment, we do not charge any fees, though we are giving a great deal of thought to our business model and monetization efforts that could involve such for-pay, value-added services as insurance and debit cards.
What’s your position on the regulatory landscape today?
My personal opinion is that regulation is inevitable and will come to DeFi one way or another. Extreme cases, such as total self-sovereign financial systems without any KYC or AML, simply will not work. The best option will be somewhere in the middle. Therefore, we are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that we comply with current EU regulations. This part of our strategy is motivated by my belief that regulation will be an important differentiation and defense for products like ours just as it is for regulated exchanges today.
What are your goals for the future?
Our goals for the year are:
- Achieving product-market fit as measured by user growth and retention;
- Raising a seed round;
- Expanding our products to include such features as insurance and debit cards; and
- Experimenting with monetization.
Generally speaking, we are devoting this year to making sure that we have a product that people love before promoting further adoption of DeFi.
What are your future thoughts for the DeFi market?
I have been studying a lot about how societies evolved from simple tribes into global, complex, and connected systems. One very interesting perspective is revealed in the book “Non-zero” by Robert Wright, namely that human beings are naturally good at playing non-zero sum games. The same idea appears in the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, who relates this kind of game to the capacity for people to connect through symbolic systems, such as money, companies, and religions. So, by playing non-zero sum games, people are at the same time increasing their connectedness. The European Union and expanding global trade are examples of this phenomenon. Thus, overall, I see crypto systems as the next level of non-zero sum games that global societies (through social scalability) are learning to play through code and incentivization mechanisms. Global capitalism today is Layer 1 in terms of enabled global economic activities, and the crypto systems of tomorrow are Layer 2. Using code, it is possible to create global digitally native economies or systems in which individuals participate for their personal benefit while at the same time creating an ever-expanding network of value accessible worldwide through the Internet. It’s like the ultimate “free-trade deal” among the world nations for all of their citizens’ financial and economic activities.
Therefore, I perceive a natural historic vector towards global and digital “everything,” with finance being next in line. It’s natural and inevitable that money and finance are being re-written on software that will enable more open and accessible financial products. For all of these reasons, DeFi has a bright future! :)
Where can we go to learn more?
You can find out more about us following these links: