Las Vegas — Cryptocurrency was one of the trending topics at this year’s 2022 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I spoke one-on-one with Tushar Nadkarni, chief growth and product officer at Celsius Network. Celsius is a cryptocurrency loan company that offers free weekly rewards to its users.
Q: Please tell me what you do at Celsius Network?
A: “I look after a few things for Celsius Network… the product management team, design, the growth team and marketing.”
Q: What would you like people to know about the Celsius platform?
A: “I would love for you and as many of your viewers to get the good word out. Celsius, the simplest way to think about us, is we’re a bank for your cryptocurrency. We pay interest on the assets that you bring in. The only difference is, if you go to traditional banks, and you have your U.S. dollars in there or your Euros in there, the typical interest that you’ll get is 0.0015 percent APY. At Celsius, you’ll get interest, what we call rewards, as much as 10, 15, 17 percent APY. Not only is the interest high, we also help you compound them. So we pay it on a Monday and it compounds on a weekly basis.”
Q: Will the rewards money ever run out?
A: “We haven’t missed a reward payment on any of the Mondays in the last four years that we’ve been operating. Not only is the platform 100 percent uptime, there have been no hacks on the platform, and we’ve not missed a single reward payment. I’m very happy but also very proud that we’re doing these things to serve our community in the right way.”
Q: How is Celsius similar or different from Coinbase or other crypto platforms?
A: “Rather than talking about any single competitor, if you just talk about our platform and how it was built, or any of the exchanges, really. It was built with the user at the center and not charging the fee to the user. If you think about our business model, the way Celsius makes its revenue is not by getting the user to transact more by charging the fees to the user. The way we make our money, which is essentially our yield, is by letting institutions borrow coins or assets from us. Then, when they pay us yield, we keep maybe 20-30 percent of that yield. The rest of that 70-80 percent we pass onto the users, our people in the community that actually bring the coin in. If you think about it, why are banks giving me so little? Banks also make a decent amount of yield. The only difference is they pass on all of those margins and profits to the shareholders not so much to the people like us that are the depositors.”
Q: Who are these institutional investors?
A: “Rather than naming any of the clients, these are institutions that understand where they might be able to make their gains because they are trying to run a business as well using some of the vast crypto that we can let them borrow from us.”
Q: Please tell us about your new Las Vegas office that recently opened.
A: “The interesting part is…just a couple of months ago, I was in Las Vegas and we opened our Las Vegas office. I’m really excited to have this office open, bring in talent and now our customer care center, which is a novelty. When I say this, people look at me like I’m talking some alien language. ‘What do you mean I have a real person on the other end that I can call?’ Yeah, this is not a FAQ or a Bot. This is an actual person. You can ask them, ‘Hey, I took this loan, I have some questions about this. What does my interest payment look like? Even if you just want to learn about the platform, right?’ We’re more than happy to offer that. We built a model. It’s so simple. That mission is so clear. Everyone who works at Celsius. We’re keeping the community and the user at the center. Everything else just automatically falls in place. It’s an expense item for Celsius, right? Having a call center. Did we hesitate? No. It’s the right answer for the user so we went and did it.”
Q: How many people does Celsius have working in Las Vegas?
A: “Right now, we have like over 100 people at the call center. We continue to grow as we see more questions and more demand. We almost have to grow at the rate of our users, right? Because the more users that come on the platform, the more questions they may have. We want to make sure they don’t have this ridiculous wait time that a lot of the other call centers have.”
Q: Are you looking to open call centers in other cities too?
A: “Yeah, we’re always looking at other opportunities. Not just opportunities in the U.S. Our aspirations are to bring the value of Celsius across the globe. Maybe the call center might not be in the next city in the U.S. It may not. We’ll place it in places where we want to create jobs. We want to be able to influence people to come in and be a part of this movement across the globe.”
Q: I’m hearing lots about possible U.S. government regulation for cryptocurrencies.
A: “It’s an interesting thing, regulation, right? One thing that I’ll say about this is, in a market like cryptocurrency in general, especially in the U.S. or even outside, there are certain places where I think regulation could be a good or bad thing. I think in general, our perspective at Celsius, has been the spirit of regulation could protect the customers and we’re fully on board with that. I think what it will also do…there are certain bad actors, right, when there are unregulated industries. This allows the industry to grow up and weed out some of the bad actors, some of the bad things happening in Crypto as you always hear.”
Q: What types of regulation might happen with Crypto?
A: “Just like a lot of people, we are waiting patiently for some framework to develop. I think in 2022 along with the next set of NFT, I think this will be the year of regulation especially in the U.S. We’re waiting to see what that framework will look like as more regulators are starting to look at it. If you’ve been following any of the hearings that have been happening on The Hill, I have complete faith that people who are looking at the regulation of Cryptocurrency have the spirit of keeping the user safe in mind.”
Q: Some countries have adopted Cryptocurrency while others have banned it all together. What are your thoughts?
A: “Yeah, this is a very interesting question. By the way, I hear that question a lot. Is Bitcoin, cryptocurrency a form of exchange and trading of currency or is it really a stored value? I’ve always maintained that it’s a stored value unless you are a nation that has really had their currency in an inflationary state where the entire currency is deflated, right? By the way, my prediction is this year you’ll probably see at least two or three more countries adopt a Cryptocurrency as their main form of exchange. That doesn’t mean that is what Cryptocurrency is for. I would think of Cryptocurrency as a stored value. It’s like you would own an Apple stock or Tesla stock, right? That is what I would think about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It’s another asset class except the small difference is 99.9 percent of people have had access to it first. It’s that 0.1 percent that went through their private wealth management and only got access to it before the rest got access to it.”
Q: How do you decide which coins to add to the Celsius Network?
A: “When we think about our overall business, it all starts with demand and supply. We listen to our community and say, ‘Hey, I have this asset. We’re big fans of this coin. We’d love to get yield for it.’ We have to balance that with our business. Are we able to have this coin on our platform that there is demand to borrow that coin? We’re not looking at things like Shiba Inu. How do people make money on those coin? People trade it a lot. We don’t make any money when people trade those coin because we don’t take any commission. The way we make our money is… is there real demand for that coin or is it just a speculative coin? All of the coins you see listed on our site are coins that actually have real demand in the institutional world. That’s how we think about it.”
Q: Why isn’t Dogecoin on Celsius yet?
A: “Not yet. We have no idea, right? Any answer I give you is… is there enough push from the community? We always listen to the community. They’re the ones that keep us honest. They are the force behind this movement. Is there enough demand on the institutional side for this coin? We haven’t seen that yet. Never say never. That’s what we talk about.”
Q: Another other final comments you’d like to add?
A: “Celsius Network is one of those places where we truly stand behind the mission. Anyone that works at Celsius, any one of the Celsiusans they truly live by this mission of financial freedom for the masses, financial freedom for everyone. Give us a look and see what you think. Celsius.network or go on the App Store for Apple iOs or on Android and download Celsius Network.”
Nadkarni was one of the expert speakers in a conference titled “Decrypting Crypto” on Jan. 5 during CES.
For more information about Celsius Network, visit www.celsius.network
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