Olga Feldmeier: «We Will Hire People Soon»

Olga Feldmeier, CEO Xapo Switzerland

Olga Feldmeier, CEO Xapo Switzerland

Olga Feldmeier is currently managing the Swiss headquarters of bitcoin firm Xapo alone. But that is about to change, she told finews.asia. She also said where the biggest potential for crypto currencies is to be found.

Xapo took everyone by surprise with the announcement of the relocation of its headquarters to Switzerland from the U.S. The choice by the company specialized in the safeguarding of bitcoin was not accidental however.

The stable regulatory environment, the political neutrality and the deeply rooted tradition of the finance industry were important factors. But the single biggest reason was the iron-clad protection of the personal and financial privacy.

License Expected Soon

Olga Feldmeier is the lone representative of Xapo Switzerland with its seat in Zug. But she won't remain alone for much longer. «We will hire people as soon as Finma awards us with the license, amongst others in compliance,» she told finews.asia in an interview.

The former UBS manager expects the licensing procedure to be concluded within the coming weeks.

Storing Coins in a Army Bunker

Xapo claims to be the biggest custodian of bitcoins. The company stores the virtual coins in an army bunker in Attinhausen, canton of Uri, built to withstand a nuclear attack.

The data storage is «cold», in other words isn't linked to the internet, protecting it from hacker attacks. The disadvantage is that the transfer of larger amounts of bitcoins takes more time to complete. Transactions of bitcoins stored in so-called «hot wallets», virtual wallets, are executed within seconds.

Biggest Growth Market in Russia and Asia

It is of paramount importance not to lose your private key, a code used to send money digitally. «Otherwise the bitcoins are gone for good,» Feldmeier warned at a panel discussion at Crypto'16, a fintech conference last week in Zurich.

The biggest growth market for crypto currencies are to be found in emerging markets, such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia, according to the former consultant at Boston Consulting Group.

Protection Against Devaluation

«The majority of the population in those countries is excluded from financial services because of the absence of a relevant infrastructure,» Feldmeier said, who herself has Russian-Ukrainian roots.

Bitcoins might help, she said. The virtual coin also might protect against the devaluation of the currency. The Russian money for instance has halved in value against the Swiss franc over the past five years.

Extremely Volatile

But: seen as an investment, bitcoin so far has proved to be extremely volatile. That's due to the limited availability in combination with an increasing interest from investors. Creating new money takes time, which is why the availability remains limited.

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