The ICONOMI Digital Assets Management Platform is a new and unique technical service that allows anyone from beginners to blockchain experts to invest in and manage digital assets. Matej Tomazin, COO of ICONOMI.
Peter Lee: Matej, welcome and please tell us a little bit about yourself and ICONOMI.
Matej Tomazin: With more than 20 years of experience in the asset management industry and in various start-ups, I joined ICONOMI half a year ago on a path to put the company on the global map as a new institution bridging the old and the new economy. ICONOMI is a digital asset management platform that enables users to manage or buy into baskets of digital assets.
Peter: The ICONOMI leadership team, including yourself, is from Slovenia and also the University of Ljubljani. Tell us a little bit about how you all met and the connection you have with each other?
Matej: We met in summer 2017, after the ICONOMI platform had already been introduced to the public. ICONOMI was ready for the next step, so Tim and Jani, ICONOMI co-founders, were searching for someone with more of a financial and institutional background. Our work is divided between different areas; roughly speaking, Tim and Jani are more focused on strategy and on networking, and I am more focused on daily operations and team management.
Peter: Tell us about the crypto and startup space in Slovenia. Have you seen any special challenges or opportunities specific to blockchain startups coming from Slovenia?
Matej: For a country with 2 million people, we have a very vibrant start-up and blockchain industry, with more than 50 projects employing more than 1,000 people and meet-ups every week; in Slovenia, even your taxi driver can tell you the price of bitcoin. All this is being recognized by the government, which is trying to put Slovenia on the map as a blockchain-friendly country.
But even with this positive attitude, there are always challenges, especially when it comes to truly understanding blockchain technology and the crypto-economy. However, this will change over time, and Slovenia will continue to attract good projects both for the reasons outlined above and because of the high quality of life.
Peter: Who are the users of ICONOMI and how do they each interact with the system and benefit?
Matej: For managers, we enable the creation and management of diversified baskets of digital assets called Digital Asset Arrays (DAAs). For users, we provide a platform for buying into these baskets with just a few clicks.
Peter: For DAA Managers, how would this be similar to or different from being a portfolio or asset manager?
Matej: DAA managers are advisors on the structure, time and frequency of rebalancing, and other characteristics of DAAs. The ICONOMI platform takes care of all other aspects: back-end administration, execution, custody, and soon a fiat ramp-up.
Peter: It sounds like it would be very interesting to be a DAA Manager. Do you anticipate that there will be any requirements around who may be able to become a DAA Manager, either required by ICONOMI or by securities regulations?
Matej: We are already doing our own internal due diligence of DAA managers and have some internal requirements describing who is eligible to become a DAA manager (from seed capital to knowledge level). Of course, in the future, the onboarding process will also be influenced by regulations on the crypto space.
Peter: What do you want people to know about ICONOMI that they might not already know?
Matej: We want people to know that ICONOMI provides the easiest way to gain exposure to the new digital economy. With our user-friendly UX, you can buy into our DAAs with just a few clicks, bringing you instant exposure to a wide variety of blockchain projects.
Peter: What has surprised you about your journey with ICONOMI so far?
Matej: Most surprising is the fact that we are helping define a new industry: we are seeing crypto assets become an investment class. This creates ripples everywhere, from the regulatory environment to investors.
Peter: ICONOMI sounds like it solves a real problem. What basic metrics do you use to measure success? And, how are you doing against those metrics?
Matej: ICONOMI is a platform, so we can easily track the activity on it, including number of users, number of DAA managers and DAAs, the AUM of DAAs, and so on. Our metrics are growing, and we believe this trend will hold because we expect blockchain mass adoption in the future.
Peter: What will ICONOMI look like 5 or 10 years from now? What does success look like?
Matej: Blockchain and tokenization will have a serious impact on business, and ICONOMI will benefit from that impact. We see ourselves as one of the most important new fintech companies and intend to be one of the global leaders in this industry.
Peter: What does the competition look like in your space? Any serious competitors or potential competitors out there that keep you up at night?
Matej: We face a large scope of competition—we’re talking banks, traditional investment service providers, traditional investment funds, traditional asset managers, crypto exchanges, crypto custodians, and other platforms, including start-ups, that have digital asset fund management in mind.
These companies are mostly thinking about broadening the scope of their business model to this new asset class. Because the sector is so dynamic, we are always aware of the competition, but we are still strongly focused on what we are doing and our performance.
Peter: What’s the best way to improve the world?
Matej: The best way to improve the world is to teach children the values of honesty, modesty, humility, passion, and hard work, and everyone who is doing that should be applauded.
Peter: What is your life philosophy?
Matej: Life is simple — the sun is always shining (sometimes above the clouds where we can’t see it) and the glass is always full (sometimes with water, sometimes with air). Our perception of our self-growth should include these simple facts, otherwise we are just complicating our viewpoints on having a meaningful life.
Matej Tomazin is working with ICONOMI to apply his vast financial experience to the emerging industry of digital asset management and help make ICONOMI the best place to diversify your digital portfolio. He has been involved in the finance industry for over twenty years. Starting out as a broker and portfolio manager, he went on to become a fund manager, the CEO of his own fund management company, and finally the CEO of the biggest private fund management company in Slovenia. With wide-ranging interests, he has also founded or been an early investor in start-ups in the food industry (organic and vegan products), IT (sensors, IoT), and digital marketing (virtual reality, social media campaigns).