We are excited to talk with Mr. Ras Vasilisin, the Founder & CEO of Virtuse Exchange, who went from Wall St., to co-founding an investment bank, becoming one of of the largest carbon emissions traders in Europe and Asia, to now launching a new crypto exchange called Virtuse.
Virtuse is a blockchain-powered exchange allowing investors worldwide to trade a wide array of crypto assets such as oil, precious metals, emission allowances, and stock indices — by using a ‘crypto wrapper,’ that is otherwise known as a ‘Digital Asset Collateralized Token (DACT).
Headquartered in Singapore, the exchange can list and trade almost every liquid real-world asset through a vast network of partners. The story behind the exchange, begins in Wall St.
From Wall St. and Europe, to Asia
Ras Vasilisin’s personal trading adventure kicked off 23 years ago in New York. He was a stockbroker on Wall Street and decided to leave when a new opportunity arose for him to co-found a new investment bank in Central Europe. At the bank, he ran the private banking and equity trading divisions. After some time had passed, Vasilisin saw a new opportunity with trading global emissions, moved on from the bank, and established Virtuse Group in Europe in 2006.
The company was named after Niccolo Machiavelli, a 16th century Italian diplomat, politician, and philosopher who is well-known for his treatise on “virtù” as a governing principle of success in his book, ‘The Prince.’
Virtuse Group is a trading company that specializes in trading energy commodities like carbon emissions, power and gas. The company grew rapidly and then went on to become one of the largest emissions traders in Europe that has traded over 200,000,000 tons.
Due to the firm’s success in Europe, Vasilisin strategically decided to expand and relocate to Asia. During that period, the company then went on to become the first foreign company to establish a ‘Carbon Emissions Exchange’ (CEEX) in Shenzhen, China.
Expanding from Carbon Emissions Trading to Crypto
In 2017, Vasilisin noticed how Ethereum made it easy for developers to launch an ‘Initial Coin Offering’ (ICO) — and he started exploring the idea of creating a new type of crypto exchange that minimized the volatility in trading, whilst at the same time, make crypto asset trading more accessible to investors.
Gaining inspiration from Vitalik Buterin, the CEO of Ethereum, Vasilisin decided that he wanted to do the same, but in the investment space. In that way, he could make it easier for non-tech financial investors to buy, sell, and trade digital assets through smart contracts.
After realizing that the vast majority of financial markets are inaccessible, centralized, and have barriers if you do not fall into the ‘accredited investor’ bracket, Vasilisin launched Virtuse Exchange, which aims to provide non-accredited investors with more investment options.
According to Investopedia, “To be an accredited investor, a person must demonstrate an annual income of $200,000, or $300,000 for joint income, for the last two years with expectation of earning the same or higher income.” For most outside of this bracket, investment options were largely limited.
Vasilisin says, “We were determined to build a new kind of exchange platform where we could bring financial and commodity assets to everyone, not only to accredited 5% of investors and democratize investing. We are all smart enough to make money, there should not be any centralized authority deciding on that.”
Blockchain Technology Allows for the Tokenization of Financial Assets
So, what is a Digital Asset Collateralized Token (DACT)? A DACT is just an ownership in an asset. It can be an equity, a bond, a commodity, or a future — it’s just a tokenized version of that particular asset.
With Virtuse Exchange, you can issue or invest in oil, silver or an asset with as little as $1 in the equivalent in bitcoin (BTC) or ethereum (ETH). This eliminates the need for banks or intermediaries to be involved and opens up investment opportunities for both accredited and non-accredited investors.
How large is the potential tokenization market?
Sanjeev Sanyal, the Global Strategist at the Deutsche Bank estimated in 2015 that the global financial assets market is valued at approximately US$294 trillion. In comparison to crypto assets, this is roughly 1,000x larger.
However, for the vast majority of this market is not accessible to all. Even in developed nations like Germany — only 10% of households own stocks directly or through funds connected to financial markets, representing that there is a huge gap for tokenizing assets.
Blockchain technology is reshaping the financial industry globally
If you have ever been involved in financial markets you know they’re messy, expensive, and inaccessible. You don’t need big media houses, telecoms and fax operators to create content. Anybody can create and publish their own video on YouTube.
We see the same exact dynamic playing out in financial markets. With blockchain technology, there is no need for clearing banks, custodians, settlement providers, etc. — you don’t need any of that. Just like the internet did away with the middlemen, blockchain technology could very well do the same to the financial sector.
Virtuse Exchange ICO
The exchange is in the last stages of closing down their whitelist for presale. The public sale will commence on October 1st.
Vasilisin’s Favorite Holiday Spot
Vasilisin prefers expeditions trips, and adventure, to all-inclusive vacations. One of the most notable expeditions that he took was a trip to the North Pole — on the most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the world. But if he were ever to choose one vacation spot in the entire world, he’d choose Southern France, where we he has spent 4 years with his family.
We would like to thank Ras for his time to conduct this exceptional interview to teach us about Virtuse. Thank you so much for joining us!
Check out more about Virtuse at www.virtuse.com.