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Andrei Popescu

Episode 50: What is Cryptocurrency and How Does it Work: Everything You Need to Know, with Andrei Popescu

Andrei Popescu is a vision-driven entrepreneur with a career-long record of business growth and innovation.

His international business ventures experienced a verifiable history of growth and expansion during his tenure as managing director and he has raised significant funds from various institutions, banks and third parties to participate in joint ventures.

He’s been engaged on helping organizations that evolve in challenging markets to break down the barriers that prevent them from reaching their potential, which operate in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, China and Asia-Pacific.

Andrei’s focus and interests are blockchain tech, DLT, SaaS for payments, finance, and investments.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Cryptocurrency: what it is and how it works
  • How cryptocurrency opens up money to more people than the system we’ve used
  • Different types of cryptocurrency that are available today (it’s much more than just Bitcoin)
  • The big barriers that must be overcome with cryptocurrency
  • What it will take for cryptocurrency to become widely adopted
  • How DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) will impact cryptocurrency
  • Events happening with blockchain technology

Ways to contact Andrei:

Podcast eBooks:

The Power of Two

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 collide to bring you summary of lessons learned and systems created around Vision and Key Initiatives that help drive success to companies and businesses.

The Transition to Automation

In Episode 25, Vera talks with Heidi Rasmussen, CEO and Co-Founder of one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies in America – freshbenies. This eBook highlights part of the conversation to bring out the best lesson in automation and on-boarding for startups.

Using IT Strategically

In Episode 29, Vera talks with Tom Grooms, Vice President, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer for CF Industries. This eBook is your guide for seeing IT as more than just a faster way to do your accounting.

The ZFactor Methodology

In Episode 35, Vera talks with Cindy Goldsberry, founder and partner of ZFactor Group. This eBook shows you how to take your business from vendor to value creator.


Welcome to System Execution. The strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company. But here, we’ll solve your physical, technological, and psychological systems issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business. And providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now, here’s your host Vera Fischer.

Vera Fischer: Today’s episode is sponsored by 97 Degrees West, the brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. 97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy, and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrated approach to marketing that involves traditional and digital strategies that fit your customer’s buying journey yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97dwest.com to learn more.

Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. Many of you know that business success relies on systems. Systems can be physical, such as a warehouse or a factory, or technological. Think software. While others are psychological systems, such as checklists, work-charts or your daily hot-list. My guest today is the chief experience officer and co-founder of Crypto One Stop Solution, Andrei Popescu. And Andrei I hope I got your last name correct on that pronunciation. You will often hear Andrei throughout the interview speak to Crypto One Stop Solution as COSS, C-O-S-S.

So Andrei is a vision driven entrepreneur with a career-long record of business growth and innovation. His international business ventures experienced a verifiable history of growth and expansion during his tenure as managing director, and he has raised significant funds from various institutions, banks, and third parties to participate in joint ventures. Andrei has also navigated several business ventures through the economic crisis in 2008 and he’s very adept at achieving maximum operational output with minimal resource expenditures. And he’s definitely learned how to adapt in order to survive and grow in challenging and rapidly changing markets.

Through business and extensive travel, Andrei has acquired an excellent contact network of very successful, highly skilled people who are top professionals in their relevant fields, and, like him, have a passion for the work in which they do. Andrei’s very specific interests are blockchain technology, DLT, softwares and service for payments, finance and investments. Welcome to System Execution, Andrei. It’s great to have you on the show. Before we dive into the process that you want to share with us today, please tell our listeners a little bit more about you and your experience.

More on Andrei’s Background

Andrei Popescu: So what I can say about myself is that from early ages, I was fascinated by computers and technology. So when I see an investment somehow put together I was just captivated instantly. So for quite some years I studied and worked on development of strategies, investment strategies, based on risk tolerance, capital commitments, goals. and many more. So actually I founded a concept, which was called Wall Street Investment Club, where we build the ultimate trading strategies which were based on genetic algorithms. But that’s the past. Right now, we’re actually focusing on the future, on the new stuff. It’s a fabulous industry that I’m working with. It’s called Fintech. It’s called Fintech, and it involves blotching technologies, distributed ledger technologies as a new term. So they did have fantastic times. It’s a revolutionary time. So I’m here to talk with you and actually to explain and give you more feedback on all of this.

How Cryptocurrency Was Started and How it Works

Vera Fischer: Well, I know that I, for one, am very curious about cryptocurrency, and I know that here in the United States, it may not have the greatest reputation. I think just not understanding it really is at the core of that. Maybe a little bit of fear … And one of the things that you and I talked about earlier is, really, what you believe is that this cryptocurrency … Other people may have heard the term Bitcoin. That’s really what we’re talking about – that currency that you really can’t touch or feel based in technology. But where you’re indicating is that you’re at this point in that Fintech world of this mass, adoption challenge. How do you get a lot of people to adopt this whole idea of cryptocurrency? I love the analogy that you had used earlier about the car. So let’s start there, and then walk us through how that cryptocurrency works.

Andrei Popescu: Okay, sure. No problem. It’ll be my pleasure. Actually, to start into this, I would have to tell you a story.

Vera Fischer: Okay. I love stories.

Andrei Popescu: Yeah. It all started in 2008. A group of persons or a person which use the name of Satoshi Nakamoto actually published a white paper which is the white paper of Bitcoin. So this invention from 2008 launched a completely new era, and it’s not just a new form of PayPal. This isn’t a new system of payments. It’s an invention that takes an obscure branch of mathematics called cartography which is the art of secret writing using math. This obscure branch of mathematics is applied into the domain of establishing trust which is very important. So it’s establish trust between the parties of the system without giving anyone control over the whole system. This unique properties is actually what makes Bitcoin special. The system and the mathematical rules in the system guarantees that the money you received is real and is unforgeable and can be used by you to make another payment. So you don’t need to know the person who gave it to you and, in modern financial, that seems weird. But yet, somehow, and you use it every day.

We do that every day with cash. So actually that’s the part that makes it a little bit scary to the people – the part that it’s anonymous, right? Let me give you an example. If I tip my taxi driver a $10 note, do they need my I.D.?

Vera Fischer: No.

Andrei Popescu: Do they ask who I am? Do they need any confirmation from myself? Do they need something to process the transaction? No, because cash, by itself … It’s a representation of value because you can verify with your own eyes that that is real money, right? So what cryptocurrency does … It translates that into the digital domain. At that point, the identity of that person is basically irrelevant because the value’s there. You don’t need to trust them. This is actually revolutionary. It’s revolutionary in a way we have seen once before at least. So that part with cryptocurrency … it’s pretty straight-forward.

One thing actually worth mentioning right now is that … Think of your Visa card right now. So let’s say you have a Visa card in your pocket right now, and you want to give me $10. Who can process your Visa card today, now, in your office? Is there anyone in your office that can process your Visa card?

Vera Fischer: No, I’d have to go through PayPal.

Andrei Popescu: Yes. So you have to go to a third party, right?

Vera Fischer: Yes.

Andrei Popescu: Because this cannot be processed on a personal capacity, right?

Vera Fischer: Correct. You’d have to use … There’s several others. But yes, I absolutely understand that.

Andrei Popescu: Because this is not about people paying people. It’s about people paying companies to pay companies to maybe pay people. Cryptocurrency is different. Cryptocurrency is peer to peer. So all transaction financial systems have now become peer to corporation to corporation to peer. So everyone takes a little cut, right. Everyone adds their own power to the system, so they take. And they take, of course, great advantage of that. So what’s the end result? The end result is that billions of people have no access to the banking system. Billions of people don’t have a bank account, and many of them don’t have even I.D.s. This is a result of the fact that we have centralized our money and we are using third party providers or how we call it “middle men”.

So this era will change, and this era has changed because of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

How Cryptocurrency is Valued

Vera Fischer: So, Andrei, at some point with that cryptocurrency, through that process, you ask yourself, “How much is it worth? How do you assign a value?” Because I’ll give you a small story. My 13 year old sat in the car with me … Or actually, when she was eight or nine years old, and she said, “Mom give me some money out of your wallet,” and I gave her a $20 bill, and she held it up, and she said, “This is a concept”.

Andrei Popescu: I see. Very good question.

Vera Fischer: Unfortunately it was at the end of the day for me, and I was tired, and I said I can’t even have that conversation with you, however … I understand that we have different forms of money, and there is a universal value assigned to that piece of paper or the numbers on the screen. So how does that work for cryptocurrency?

Andrei Popescu: Okay, so first of all, there is no inherently value about the dollar, stone, or a coin. The only reason these things have value is because we’ve only decided they should. Because we’ve decided that, they do. Money is about the exchanges and the transaction we have with each other. Money isn’t anything objective. It’s just a collective story. It’s about the collective story that we tell each other about value. It’s a collective fiction, and that’s actually a really powerful concept.

So in the past two decades, we’ve begun to use digital money, so we get paid via direct deposit. We pay rent via bank transfer. We pay our taxes online. And small amounts go into whatever funds which I’ve deducted from my bank accounts. So all these interactions are literally just one and zeros on computer. There is nothing physical like a stone or a coin related to that. All this transaction and transferring money across borders and across currencies is really expensive. Actually, this part creates a lot of friction. Because you see, now I’m just divulging. Entrepreneurs can actually set up online business in minutes nowadays, but it’s very hard for them to get loans and to get paid.

So our access to digital money and our ability to freely transact is somehow being slowed because there’s lots of impediments in the system. The system works. Banks work perfectly, but there are lots of impediments in the system. That’s because digital money isn’t really mine. It’s just entries in a database that belongs to the banks, to the credit card companies, to investment firms. These are all middle men. Exactly the term how the industry calls them … Now, think of a world where we have a fully-connected economy using a form of currency that is neutral, transparent, open, and global belonging to everyone which requires no qualification to enter or access the system and is not under the control or government or bank. That’s what cryptocurrency offers, so the future of money is programmable. When it combines alternative currency, money becomes more just a static unit of value, and we don’t have to rely on institutions for any security or any other means of doing services.

Vera Fischer: Do you envision … Let’s say that there is a business that says we accept this new currency. How, then, would the other person give that currency to that person or that business?

Andrei Popescu: You see, now I can actually start presenting the company and what we actually we do because COSS, itself, stands for Crypto One Stop Solution. So Crypto One Stop Solution and our company and our platform encompasses all feature of a digital economical system which is based on the cryptocurrency. So right now, COSS system consists of a payment gateway with a POA system, a cryptocurrency exchange, a merchant list, a market cap rankings, and so many other features. But we have a payment gate that allows any business, either online or offline, to accept cryptocurrency as payments for their services or products. So any business out there who wants to accept cryptocurrency can use, for example, a payment gateway. We’re not the only one offering this, but our payment gateway can facilitate this kind of a service to any business that wants to start accepting cryptocurrency as payments.

The Different Types of Bitcoins

Vera Fischer: So, and Andrei, forgive me. My head is kind of going in a lot of different directions. So there are a lot of other cryptocurrency companies out there. Is that correct?

Andrei Popescu: Yes. Actually this field, this new market, that is emerging right now … It’s evolving at a super fast pace. Right now, there are around 3,000 cryptocurrencies out there, so we are just playing in a field with a lot of fluctuation. So to actually name a few so people understand what we are talking about … Bitcoin is the grandfather of all cryptocurrencies. We have Ether which is another cryptocurrency which is used for the ethereum blockchain. There is Litecoin. There is Repa which is used by banks to actually do some transactions between them. We have Besh. We have Monero which is a super anonymous coin. We have Zcash. We have so many. So cryptocurrencies nowadays are becoming more and more popular but, again, and actually you are are very right.

There is a massive adoption challenge here. So according to cryptocurrency adoption research that was carried, and I hope I am pronouncing the name right. It was carried out by someone recently. The main barriers to overcome for the cryptocurrency adoptions … First is the lack of user-friendliness. So sending and receiving digital money’s still very hard because each time the user decides to spend cryptocurrency, it requires to visit at least three websites. To do simple operations such as setting up a wallet or making an exchange, spending cryptocurrency … These are the things that are needed. Users are also lacking confidence in the safety of their funds.

The second one, I think, is fluctuation. So the price volatility of many existing outcomes is driven by speculation nowadays, whereas the lack of liquidity makes keeping funds in cryptocurrency risky for most of the user. So the constantly changing cost of cryptocurrencies undermines the possibility of using them as a value storage. But the cryptocurrency industry has generated this new market. It’s an emerging market which have potential to disrupt the existing market strategies and conventional business practices. so these are just a number of obstacles which slow down its natural growing pace among the non-technical users.

As I told you … Right now, cryptocurrency is exactly at the stage of the first car or the first airplane, right? So we are actually moving in a world where we have horse and carriages, and a new car appears that actually makes a lot of noise. There is a lot of smoke coming out from all the pipes. It breaks down. It actually doesn’t go constantly on the normal seat, right? Everyone thinks, like, okay you must be crazy using this, right? And it’s scary. It is, but this is only the beginning. We all know how this story turns out. We all see outside that we are using cars every day. We travel by planes wherever in the world, so this is the new era that we are heading off.

How Long it Will Take for Cryptocurrency to Become Mainstream

Vera Fischer: So, Andrei, the rate of adoption from the automobile which was almost 100 years ago. It took quite some time for it to get into the mainstream, and you’re telling us that the changing, the evolving landscape, of cryptocurrency is much faster. So how, in your opinion … What do you foresee as this cryptocurrency system getting into that mainstream? Are we five years? 10 years? 20 years away?

Andrei Popescu: That’s a very good question. A very good question. I often say that where Bitcoins and the other options are to date … It’s approximately where the internet was in 1992. That’s in terms of technology, in terms of infrastructure, deployments, in terms of adoption patterns … So, this technology is definitely where the internet was in 1992. But the hype of blockchain technologies is around the hype of the internet in 1992, right?

So entrepreneurs, right now, look at other people’s problems and see them as opportunities. Let me give you another example. When journalists, in 1997, were writing about the imminent failure of the internet because of the impossibility of finding anything on it, right? Larry Page and Sergey Brin actually invented Google. They were finding stuff, and they have built up a multi-billion dollar empire on solving the unsolvable problem of search, right? So why did Facebook in 1992? It didn’t have enough density of adoption. It didn’t have mobile devices that were permanently connected. It didn’t have home-based internet that was permanently on. It didn’t have a network in order to engage with people you knew. So people barely had e-mails. So that’s exactly the stage where cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies is right now.

But for crypto, all things are in place right now. I’m quite sure that things will evolve very fast in less than … I’m not saying 10. I will say five years. Everyone will be using at least some blockchain technology application without actually knowing that they’re using it.

How Cryptocurrencies Could Replace Banks

Vera Fischer: Will companies like yours replace banks?

Andrei Popescu: Wow, that’s a very visionary-

Vera Fischer: Well it’s the next … In my mind, it’s like, well wait a minute … If you guys are the gateway, and listeners’ gateways are these … It’s exactly what it implies. It’s the gate to get to the next step of that payment process. If you guys are the gateway, which … A bank is now a gateway, if you will. Then what do we need a bank for?

Andrei Popescu: Yes. Actually, the financial system that we are using right now … It’s pretty outdated. It works okay. It’s outdated, but it will be disrupted by cryptocurrencies and everything that is coming newer right now with regards to Fintech. Cost, itself … It’s a platform. We think of ourselves as the Airbnb of block chain in cryptocurrencies. We aggregate services for users, and we want to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses. We actually are trying … We have identified the problem, right? The notion of cryptocurrencies is relatively new. The market represented by crypto is limited to the relatively small community of people who have specific interest in this technology. So the number of cryptocurrency-related services offered on the market today is vast, but the entry-level users navigating within this diversity is very difficult.

So let’s give another example. Defining high-quality services from the low. Right now, for example, someone is listening to your podcast. And you say, “Okay, these guys are talking about Bitcoin. What the hell they are talking about?” So they start Googling. They will start Googling Bitcoin. They will find thousands of articles and things about Bitcoin. They will find out, eventually, that they need a wallet. Okay, so you need a wallet. Then you start Googling Bitcoin wallet. Then you will find another thousand results on Bitcoin wallet. Which one is good? Which one is bad? Which one is secure? Which one you can trust, right? So these are hurdles that an entry-level user will stumble upon.

So we have identified a problem. We are coming with a solution. Crypto One Stop Solution. So we aim to bring cryptocurrency and blockchain products and services to the masses by providing an easy-to-use … We call it One Stop Solution so it’ll go for not only individual but for businesses regardless of their experience level.

Vera Fischer: Do you think that the under-served, from a payment perspective, those that are looking at microloans in those developing countries, et cetera … Those would be faster adoption rate than, let’s say, people in the United States who obviously may take a little bit more for them to make that adoption.

Andrei Popescu: Absolutely. For cryptocurrency users nowadays, all they need is access to internet and a smartphone. That’s all they need. So, of course, for the users that actually don’t have access, for example, to a banking system, cryptocurrency definitely is one of the best ways to access financial services, right? Because you can easily transact. You can easily do payments. You can easily create or have your own business developed as a blockchain application based on a cryptocurrency. Now, actually, we are just moving away from the cryptocurrency to the blockchain era. Right now, even COSS itself as a vision and our roadmap … We want it to actually bring all these services that actually will be built on on blockchain as application. That can be, exactly like you said, P2P lending. It can involve microfinance, definitely remittance, global payments, e-commerce, even an e-commerce platform …

Then think from the other perspectives. Think of the perspective of smart contracts in decentralized application. You can have escrow system, trustees, authorization systems … On the securities part, of course crowdfunding derivatives equity … Think for the record-keeping parts that actually … It’s also part of the block chain industry itself. Intellectual property, voting, ownership, title deeds, title records, healthcare, insurance also will be disrupted … They already have their new term. It’s called InsureTech nowadays. So definitely this new industry will disrupt and will actually have a huge impact on the world itself.

What’s Next for Cryptocurrency and its Mass Adoption

Vera Fischer: So, Andrei, from that perspective of that mass adoption challenge. What do you believe are the next steps, the next parts, of … Even one or two steps that you believe you need to go through in the next 12 months, 18 months, to move the needle a little bit further?

Andrei Popescu: Now we can talk, for example, about trans or industry dynamics. Within the last few years, the block chain technology has experienced great reevaluation in the tech world. So one of the most prospective applications is the DAO, for example. It stands for decentralized autonomous organization which, according to prognostics, will become one of the most disruptive inventions overshadowing the blockchain and cryptocurrency itself. Those are considered to be a new form of legal structure in which management and controlled or carried out by means of smart contracts. The so-called executive agreements on the block chain …

So right now, the numbers of blockchain application is increasing and expanding further away from the domain of cryptocurrency to other industries such as accounting, real estate, even data storage and things like that. But the same thing, I see, is true for most cryptocurrency platforms that are limited to smaller number of services and products. So there is a trend here, and, actually, I encourage hackers and visionary entrepreneurs to take a look at this because right now we are of an early adoption phase, and things are moving at a very high speed. We really want to grow. We really want to grow this community because right now it’s quite small. People are afraid of using cryptocurrencies and actually looking at blockchain technologies, but we need to make this more aware.

What an ICO is

Vera Fischer: Excellent. For cost, for your next … What’s next with you … I know that earlier we talked about you possibly coming over and going to a conference in L.A. – Block-Con 2017. So give us a little bit of insight to what conference-goers are talking about in this industry.

Andrei Popescu: There are a lot of events happening all around the world. We just had one even in Romania which is called Block-Con. The one in the U.S. … Actually, I’m in touch with the organizers, and we are looking forward to actually going there. But that all depends on the roadmap and on the things that we have listed. And we are evolving, as we speak, with our business, right? Because we actually have a very ambitious roadmap ahead of us.

Right now, we are doing an ICO which is a … I’m not sure if you are aware with the terms?

Vera Fischer: No.

Andrei Popescu: So ICO actually stands for initial coin offerings. It’s something similar to IPO. Let me just tell you about ICO. Basically, initial coin offerings can be considered as an alternative form of crowdfunding that has emerged outside of the traditional financial system, right? So this model has helped a lot of successful projects and companies to get the funding required to start a business. For us, it’s different because we already have a working product. We already have a platform that already has 1,000 users and at least 150 merchants on board that are using our payment gateway.

Initial coin offerings, also known as ICO, is the cryptocurrency version of crowdfunding and are part of the crypto world that is most likely to stay there. It’s one of the easiest and most efficient methods for companies and individuals to find their projects and for regular users to invest in projects where they see value because this actually … You can call this a disruption of the venture capital investments. So an initial coin offering is an event that usually extends over a period of one week to one month or more and in which everyone is allowed to purchase newly-issued tokens in exchange for established cryptocurrency like Ether or Bitcoin. That’s how it goes.

Right now, this is … I’m telling you, it’s the hottest thing out these because there is recently a company called TenX that actually raised 34 million U.S. dollars worth of Ether in less than seven minutes. So there is a lot of things happening. So COSS right now is doing an ICO that will start on the 8th of August and will last for one month. We have a pre-ICO that will start on the 10th of July and will only be available for three days with a minimum buy-in of 50 Ether for the COSS tokens that we’ll issue. We are looking forward actually to do this ICO, to actually start and grow at a faster pace, because we have gotten traction.

We are actually seeing that we are getting a lot of good feedback. We are establishing a lot of partnership with super big companies and important companies around the world. And we want to grow this concept faster and better. So, yes, there are a lot of events happening. We are actually looking to be in the U.S. at the new Block-Con, but we are following a roadmap. Right now, we are focusing on our ICO. We have a lot of things going. We have a lot of surprises, a lot of new features that will come up on COSS, so yeah. Stay tuned.

Vera Fischer: Well that is really exciting. This whole system of mass adoption … Andrei, you and your industry have definitely taken on the largest mass adoption challenge I think I’ve ever heard of, and that is change the currency of the world. So that’s very impressive.

Andrei Popescu: Actually, Vera, it really is a super interesting industry. People need to understand. They need to be aware of how things are evolving because we all know what happened with Codec, with Nokia … Things evolve, and then companies and people need to adapt to these new changes, right? Because block chain industry, right now, is actually one of the biggest. I can say that, and people actually are posting this all over the internet that block chain technologies and this revolution that is happening right now … It can be even bigger than the internet itself. So there is something cooking here. There is something interesting, and people need to look into it because you see blockchain applications, DACs, DAOs telling you there are so many examples and that there are so many potential opportunities for people to start actually taking advantage of this technology right now.

Andrei’s Final Thoughts and How to Get in Touch with Him

Vera Fischer: Well, Andrei, I really appreciate how you’ve really given us the overview of where the system of money came from and how the technology, cryptocurrency, has come from that math background. I think it’s really interesting, and there’s just so much more that we could talk about, and I would love to have you back in six months or so and follow up with you about this adoption challenge and see how far you guys have come.

Andrei Popescu: Absolutely, Vera. It would be my honor to actually speak with you again. It was pleasure.

Vera Fischer: Great. And before we sign off, if you would just let our listeners know how they can get in touch with you if they’d like to connect.

Andrei Popescu: Sure. They can find me on LinkedIn, of course. My name is Andrei Popescu. Of course, they can always email me on Andrei@COSS.IO. And of course, I’m always present on our platform, and everyone can reach me anytime, anywhere.

Vera Fischer: And also, listeners, you can find his information and bio on the show notes. SystemExecution.com.

So fans, no matter how many notes you took or how often you re-listen to this episode, remember every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome.

Thank you again, Andrei.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, e-books, and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on e-mail at Vera@systemexecution.com.

Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.




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