Sila CEO and co-founder Shamir Karkal participated in a Hacker Noon AMA on June 11 to field some questions from the community and share his experience in building successful FinTech companies. Almost 70 questions came in from the developer community, and Karkal provided answers on everything from his thoughts on the state of banking during the currently rampant FinTech disruption, to his opinion on Facebook’s upcoming foray into cryptocurrency/stablecoin.
When he co-founded Simple in 2009 Karkal became one of the pioneers that paved the way for today’s challenger neobanks. As such, many of the AMA questions revolved around his own experience in the banking sector, and the fintech domain. He also got to answer questions about his vision for Sila as an extension of his original quest to disrupt traditional finance.
Karkal believes stablecoins are necessary for widespread adoption, as cryptocurrencies are often too volatile to serve the majority of use cases — he highlighted this when asked about Bitcoin price predictions:
“I don’t really have a view on the price of Bitcoin, except that it will continue to be highly volatile. I believe that to drive mass adoption of new monetary technology, we need tokens that are stable in value. I love owning Apple stock, but I don’t want to get paid in Apple stock, or pay my mortgage in Apple stock. The great value of the $ and other major global currencies is their stability and ubiquity, and thats why we built Sila as a custodial stablecoin pegged to the $.”
With regards to the suggestion that banks traditionally functioned as ‘one-sided markets’, and that decentralization would fundamentally disrupt this dynamic, Karkal had the following to say:
“Banks have many huge problems. Their business models are tired, their customers hate them, and their technology sucks even worse than their top management. But one huge advantage they do have is regulation — it creates a massive barrier to entry. That barrier has allowed one of the largest industries in the world to stay immune from technology-led disruption, so far at least.
“The promise of blockchain technology is in reducing that barrier to entry, and bringing transparency to the whole system. As that happens, I expect some banks will successfully transform themselves into modern customer-centric and tech focused organizations, but many will fall by the wayside.”
A fierce proponent of stablecoins, it was perhaps unsurprising that Shamir was asked about his thoughts on Facebook’s upcoming offering:
“I find Libra/GlobalCoin quite flattering. It’s very similar to Sila structurally — a custodial stablecoin with a built in platform. In our case, our REST/HTTP API platform enables financial innovators to build and ship apps quickly. Facebook has WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, etc.
“The obvious advantage Facebook has is its massive scale and reach. It does have some serious customer trust issues, especially in developed markets. I would never store any real money with Facebook personally, and I am very leery of using them for any payments activity. I suspect many folks feel the same, and that could be a big problem for them.”
There are, of course, many more excellent insights from Shamir on the AMA — if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the entire discussion here: https://community.hackernoon.com/t/i-am-shamir-karkal-co-founder-of-simple-bank-and-current-ceo-at-sila-the-payments-api-ask-me-anything-06-11-19-noon-pst/3158
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Sila provides Banking and Payments Infrastructure-as-a-Service for teams building the next generation of financial products and services. Our banking API replaces the need for integrating with legacy financial institutions saving you months of development time and thousands in legal and regulatory expenses.
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