Our team has changed, our mission has not: Statement from Paul Neuner
Dear Telcoin community,
2020 has been one heck of a year. From fires and a global pandemic to protests and lockdowns, we’ve all had to face some level of adversity and — whether we like it or not — adapt to the changing world around us. Telcoin has not been immune to difficult and unexpected happenings in this year full of surprises, as we have all seen this past week. For essentially personal reasons, my friend and co-founder Claude decided to move on from Telcoin. And while this all unfolded in a suboptimal manner, I can say that I can understand and support his decision.
While the situation sounds chaotic, taking a step back, the timing is actually good — as this would be much more challenging to endure after launching our services. We all agree internally that it is better to get our house in order now, not later. I know that everyone who has supported and followed Telcoin has been frustrated with the incessant delays — I have shared this frustration “10X.”
More than anyone, I am excited to move forward as fast as possible with Telcoin’s next chapter, and can talk a bit about that now. We have decided to move the Telcoin headquarters to Los Angeles, California and I am here now setting up the new office. Our first hire here, Will Myers, started today, and we are in the process of hiring more new core technical team members gradually across the rest of the year. Claude is fully cooperating with the transition and conducting daily calls to push it forward in parallel with the beta launch. While this is obviously putting us behind a bit as far as the immediate initial beta launch, we expect to be able to increase productivity dramatically once the new team is up to speed.
I firmly believe that LA, and the state of California by extension, is one of the most important locations in the United States for outbound remittances (especially to Asia). I also feel that a large portion of the cryptocurrency community has shunned the US, for a number of reasons both good and bad. At Telcoin we want to stand out as one of the few crypto startups that is fully embracing the US market in a compliant and responsible manner. We see our US and international experience and presence as an asset that will help us do what is most needed in the crypto world, which is to bridge between old and new in a complex and entrenched financial system.
Despite the current pandemic, I am a firm believer in the value of having a core team working regular hours in the same physical space, if even for just part of the work week. I also believe in the value of building a company around members with healthy family lives. It is great to have staff who want to contribute in off hours and remotely, but I think this only works when revolving around a more stable nucleus. This is something I am excited to start building here in the new headquarters in LA, a group of solid and stable contributors all together in the same place (even if remote for now until it is safe). We are of course rolling out a very globally distributed business, and I think the current team has been incredibly resilient in weathering the storm. I understand that some have had to leave for personal reasons and sincerely appreciate their contribution to Telcoin. But I am also very proud of the team that has stuck through this and is remaining with the company, spread out around the globe and continuing to press forward even as the company has gone through this challenging transition. I am very excited to rebuild a new healthy and enthusiastic core team in LA, and know this will energize the rest of the team spread out on the front lines of financial inclusion and new finance.
As we make these positive changes, the current Telcoin team is more emboldened than ever before to deliver a best-in-class remittance service that keeps our users safe and ensures more money lands in their pocket. While our first release will focus on what we refer to internally as “vanilla remittance” — sending fiat currency to mobile money platforms — we have not lost sight of the need to quickly proceed to our “full stack” including the TEL token. It’s essential not only to improving and securing the remittance experience, but also as an important gateway and foundation upon which more crypto-based financial products can be built. Remember, the first step to any crypto product is on-ramping fiat, and our first offering enables our customers to keep more of it in e-wallets they use every day.
We’re excited to announce new Telcoin team members, tell you more about our initial beta testing of the Canada-Philippines corridor, and tease some new partners in key geographies. Read on for more, and thank you for sticking with us through these trying times. Despite the general mess 2020 has been so far, I am confident that Telcoin is on the right track to deliver a very exciting second half of the year.
Paul Neuner, Telcoin
Meet the latest additions to the Telcoin team
In keeping with the renewed sense of urgency to bring Telcoin Remittances into the hands of users worldwide, we’ve made a number of key hires to the technical, business development, and compliance teams.
William Myers, based in Los Angeles, is a MS graduate from Brigham Young University where he worked in the Perception, Control, and Cognition Lab, researching NLP, reinforcement learning, and machine learning (ML). William’s background in ML translates well to Telcoin’s implementation of eKYC, which is a critical aspect of Telcoin’s contactless offering. He also co-founded Voxjar and built their backend and speech analysis pipeline. He’s an open-source enthusiast and a proud Rustacean.
Daniel Blackband, based in the United Kingdom, joins Telcoin as our new Head of Global Compliance. Dan brings more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications space, with a range of domain expertise including compliance, revenue assurance and fraud management (RAFM), security, system integration, and operations. With stints at major telecom brands — including British Telecom, Ooredoo Group, and Veon — Daniel has lived and worked in 38 countries across the span of his career. He is also a Certified Cyber Intelligence Professional (CCIP) and Certified Cryptocurrency Forensic Investigator (CCFI) with the McAfee Institute and a Certified Fraud Examiner with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Daniel brings his strong global telecom network connections and extensive background in dealing with government regulators to ensure Telcoin can forge new relationships in the space while remaining ahead of the curve on compliance and security matters.
Ruben Bonifacio, based in the Philippines, joins Telcoin as Country Manager for the Philippines. Ruben has a total of 24 years of experience working at more than a dozen telecom and anti-fraud companies globally, focusing on the fields of RAFM, audit, security, training, and project management. Ruben began his career at PLDT (the incumbent national carrier in the Philippines) in 1993 and later moved to Globe Telecom in the early 2000s. Ruben will be instrumental in scaling our presence in the Philippines, but his wide-ranging telecom contacts across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa will also benefit business development efforts globally.
Beta Testing Update
Now for the update you’ve all been waiting for. Despite recent events, we have been finalizing our beta testing through the month of June. We’ve successfully completed testing on both the Canada and Philippines side, and are now promoting the deployment to the production environment. As I am sure you can appreciate, doing this now during the restructuring would have been irresponsible. Out of an abundance of caution, we paused to get through this transition at Telcoin — but as of this morning, the daily videoconference meetings focused on turning on the production environment have resumed. We are very hesitant to commit to any dates while the transition is still underway, but are confident that we can have this live in August.
More important than this one milestone, the top priority of the current Telcoin transition is to mature into a consistent and reliable company. We are well aware of the community’s desire for Telcoin to grow into a company that can set deadlines and beat them. Not to belittle the challenges that faced Telcoin until now, but in our new phase we will strive to be more efficient and more transparent as we roll out rock-solid building blocks that are both quick to market and in line with the longer term vision of the company.
If you or your loved ones send money from Canada to the Philippines and would like to join our closed beta, please sign up here: Telcoin Beta Sign-up Form.
New partnership announcements on the horizon
While no one likes to hear the same old “we’re under NDA” phrase, Telcoin has officially signed two as-yet-to-be-announced partnerships in two different South Asian markets. Additionally, we’ve signed a tentative agreement in a major new African economy, pending approval by the central bank.
While we prefer to stray from teasing deals that are not yet signed, given recent events and our desire to raise the spirits of the community members who have stood by us, we thought we’d also share that — apart from the deals mentioned above — Telcoin is at varying levels of engagement with around ten additional potential partners in Africa and Asia.
Telcoin x Sedona
Telcoin is excited to make official its relationship with sister company Sedona, a telecom fraud management and security startup. Sedona is essentially the team of former associates of Paul’s in the telecom fraud and security industry that have followed and supported Telcoin informally until now, who want to organize more formally to advance Telcoin’s vision.
One major challenge that we discovered early on at Telcoin is that while mobile operators may get very excited about Telcoin as a bridge to allow their subscribers to access crypto assets — selling this to legal compliance departments is a different animal. Telcoin has figured out a “fiat first” approach to connect to banks and mobile money platforms, and Jeff has become a Jedi knight at navigating that fine line.
As for the longer view of partnering with carriers to bring crypto assets to subscribers in a safe and secure manner, we feel that involving a neutral third party integrator like Sedona is very effective. Sedona can propose an agnostic platform to mobile operators, providing a smoother path to enabling subscribers to access Telcoin services and the TEL token. Sedona is, in effect, an arm of Telcoin that will help us more rapidly scale and progress toward our goal.
Social media update
To further usher in the new phase of Telcoin, we’ll be revamping our social media presence and will be launching a new Instagram page soon. We’ll also be taking a more active approach on Twitter and Facebook as we gear up for production, and are onboarding another new member to help manage our social media presence specifically. Keep an eye out and make sure to follow us across the web:
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From startup to success story
The past three years have brought many challenges, including the turbulence that is frequently seen with personnel churn during the growth and maturation process from a startup to a legitimate business. This process is natural and expected if you are part of a startup that is lucky enough to survive to the growth stage.
At Telcoin, we feel very fortunate to be under the leadership of a seasoned professional, with a fresh perspective and some new highly-motivated veteran personnel. We are sincere in our gratitude for your support and look forward to engaging the community in introducing our product to the world. Stay tuned as we write the next chapter in our startup to success story.
The Telcoin team