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Starting the Generation: How Hayvn Plans to Transform Cryptocurrency Investing

Unlike many startup founders, former investment banker Christopher Flinos wasn’t looking for a problem when he started working on the concept for Hayvn, the ADGM-regulated virtual asset trading platform.

While working at Sterling Financial Services, a small investment bank he founded in Abu Dhabi with a former colleague at Merrill Lynch, he discovered a huge gap in cryptocurrency trading.

Or, as Mr. Flinos, co-founder and CEO of Hayvn, “We saw an opportunity the size of a bus.”

That was about six years ago, a time when there were few opportunities for retail investors to place large cryptocurrency trades on established platforms or through over-the-counter (OTC) trading desks.

“At the time, there was a ‘neutral zone’ for WhatsApp groups and cash exchanges and things like that,” says Flinos, from Melbourne, Australia.

“I was trying to make some big trades for a client and myself, and I was looking at how these transactions had to go. All they bought was Bitcoin and Ethereum, but it was high volume… so there was nothing available on the market. .

My opinion was that this could not go on. The technology is so good that this type of trading will continue indefinitely, so the idea came from the trading desk.”

Flinos and fellow founder Ahmed Ismail created Hayvn in 2018, adapting “investment banking DNA” to create a platform that offers investors a regulated “safe haven” in the “anti-establishment,” he says, volatile world of cryptocurrency.

“Our business is not built on blockchain, but all the products we use are, so I think everyone loves that approach,” says Flinos.

“And best of all, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel; I can only do what I would normally do if I worked at Merrill, but just be you.”

In March last year, Dubai adopted the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Act, which aims to establish an advanced legal framework to protect investors and provide international standards for the governance of the virtual asset industry that promote responsible business growth in the emirate. .

It also established the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (FARA) as an independent authority to regulate the sector across the emirate, including special development zones and free zones, with the exception of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Last September, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi’s global market regulator, published guidelines on its approach to regulating and overseeing virtual assets to set its expectations for the industry’s asset class and service providers.

What is Bitcoin and How Did it Start?

The financial regulator said at the time that the principles complement the ADGM regulatory framework for spot virtual asset activities.

Hayvn is now regulated in four financial jurisdictions: Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Australia and the Cayman Islands.

Its services have expanded from the original OTC cryptocurrency business to include digital asset custody, asset management and digital payment services.

It is also working with some real estate developers in the UAE, allowing people to buy real estate using cryptocurrency.

While Flinos invested an undisclosed sum in Hayvn and received no salary for more than three years, the company’s initial round raised just under $1 million in funding.

yvn is gearing up for a Series B funding round in the second half of this year and aims to raise up to $20 million, which it will use to expand the business and potentially spin off Hayvn Pay.

“We are working on it at the moment and hope to be able to break Hayvn Pay out quickly, get it on our own and then see if Serie B is made at the level of Hayvn or if it is made [at the level of] Hayvn Pay.”, says the Mr. Flinos.

In November, Hayvn said it was considering making a formal offer to take over the collapsing cryptocurrency exchange’s FTX payments business as it resumes as a “pillar” of the Hayvn Pay infrastructure.

“We are pleased to learn that some FTX companies have solvent balance sheets, responsible management and valuable franchises,” said Mr. Flinos to The National at the time.

“We are open to discussions with their banker, Perella Weinberg, once they get court approval to move forward.”

FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in the US on Nov. 11 in case the most popular cryptocurrency exchange to date fails.

Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and former CEO of disgraced FTX, is currently under house arrest in the U.S. after being charged with eight felony counts of allegedly misusing billions of dollars in client funds prior to the collapse of $9 billion platform and Pesquisa Alameda.

Cryptocurrency – in pictures

The FTX Pay offer is still on the table, and the company is waiting to receive a due diligence package, says Mr. Flints.

“I’m still optimistic about it and I’m still hopeful that we can make a deal and win this deal,” he says.

“With the capital raise that we will be doing in the coming months, everything is designed to enter the cryptocurrency payments ecosystem first.

“We’re trying to compete with institutions and organizations in the payments space that’s been around for 30, 40, 50 years, so we need some scale and we need some scale.”

What other Successful Startups would you Like to Have Started?

Since I founded Hayvn five years ago, I have watched other new companies and great ideas come to market and learned from their successes and sometimes their failures. It has been incredible to see the resulting transformative business models emerge, both globally and regionally.

My personal favorite is noon and watch them bring out noon, then groceries, then food, then work for 15 minutes. Each business model is complementary and great for capturing consumers and then not letting them leave your ecosystem.

Witnessing the success of this business model of extending the customer lifecycle through value-added services is what drove me to turn Hayvn into a fully regulated cryptocurrency powerhouse.

Who is your Idol?

Since arriving in the Gulf, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director and CEO of Mubadala Investment Group, has been a role model. What he has accomplished for the nation in so many roles, from Mubadala to Manchester City, is truly impressive. Hope to meet you one day.

What New Skills have you Learned Since Hayvn’s Release?

I’m very clear on the three most important things I’ve learned since launching Hayvn. I learned to drive. You learned how to bring people together around a common goal and how to implement it. When you start a new business with seed capital, you can’t just shell out cash on a situation; You must organically build the right team and the right partners. In the early days, they personally invested in you. Your integrity, honesty, vision and drive to bring the business to a point where it is self-sustaining are key to success.

Where do you Want to be in Five Years?

Five years from now, I look forward to leading Hayvn to become one of the world’s most trusted institutions for digital assets and a major player in the global payments industry. We will have a successful ‘IPO’ of the business and look forward to integrating Hayvn into an established banking giant or acquiring a bank and bringing it into the Hayvn ecosystem.

If you Could do Everything differently, what would you Change?

I spent the first nine months, when Hayvn was in the design phase, listening to feedback from investors and my peers, my former role models at Merrill. I listened to too many people instead of trusting me and leading myself. So I stopped listening to the skeptics and trusted my vision and started implementing Hayvn, transforming it into the regulated, cryptocurrency-focused financial institution that it is today.

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