Meet the Team: Interview with CoinLoan’s CEO Alex Faliushin

CoinLoan’s CEO is not a celebrity executive hungry for photo-ops. Alex Faliushin is laser-focused on the business, working tirelessly but staying out of the limelight. Yet he is the person most CoinLoaners want to know more about. In this interview, he reflects on CoinLoan’s rise to success, past challenges, and plans for the future.

Alex, could you tell our users how CoinLoan started? When and why did you decide to establish this company?

When we speak of CoinLoan, there’s no I, only We. All projects I’ve ever worked on were the products of cooperation with Max Sapelov. We have known each other since 2008 – for nearly 15 years! Any decisions concerning CoinLoan were our joint decisions.

In 2017, we saw that the market had matured enough for such financial instruments as crypto lending, so we got everything set for launching CoinLoan. We had contemplated loans for quite a while — around one and a half years. A crypto lending platform was a novelty and breakthrough. Besides, the exchange infrastructure was ready, so we only needed to implement the lending functionality. This let us redirect our efforts quite quickly.

– How did you get to know Max?

I got introduced to Max while working in IT. We didn’t become business partners immediately — we contributed to the same projects independently for a while from different geographic locations. Before CoinLoan, we set up an IT security firm together — this happened in 2015.

I have zero programming background, so we have a clear division of responsibilities at CoinLoan. I delegate all technical aspects to Max and mostly deal with business development.

Speaking of background, could you tell us a bit about yourself? How, when, and why did you get interested in crypto projects?

I have a degree in Economics — specifically, Finance and Credit. Like Max, I’ve been self-employed all my life. We’ve always been our own bosses. This does not mean we never contributed to third-party projects along the way, but we would always rely on our own capital when pursuing our own ideas.

– Why did you think there would be sufficient demand for crypto lending?

Because I would use this service myself. In 2013, I reluctantly sold all my bitcoins (2,500 BTC) to purchase an apartment — I really needed it at the time, and a very attractive offer had come in. If crypto loans had existed at the time, I would have definitely used one. So it all started with a problem — we came up with a solution, and the solution laid the foundation of CoinLoan.

In 2017, the market boomed, capital flowed in, and a lot of people became hodlers. It became clear that we could offer them a way to save their crypto and achieve more with it. When we were launching CoinLoan, I said that in a year we would have dozens of competitors, and my prediction came true.

– Why did you decide to set up a licensed business in Estonia?

In 2017, Estonia was spearheading crypto regulation along with Singapore, so it was an easy choice. We didn’t want to have any problems with the law. Doing business by the rules is more difficult, but there are fewer risks, so it is better from a long-term perspective, particularly in crypto.

The concept of CoinLoan is our brainchild. We developed everything from scratch, including the architecture and the white paper. You could say the idea was in the air, but we became the first company to bring it to fruition in the EU.

Obviously, we made the right decision. If you look at all startups formed in Estonia in 2017, just around five of them are still afloat, including CoinLoan. Today, we have a team of 55+ people, and our user base is growing exponentially — we expect to have 1 million accounts on the platform in the near future. Retail and corporate clients from all over the world entrust us with their funds.

— You have mentioned that many crypto businesses have failed. What makes CoinLoan different from them?

In some cases, it came down to their flawed approach and arrogance — some of these businesses had much larger budgets, but aggressive marketing spelled their demise. It is a mistake to prioritize capital over product development. When growth eclipses genuine value, your project is doomed.

— So, what made CoinLoan different?

For us, the technical side of things comes first. The company started growing when we were 100% sure of the product and the underlying processes. Besides, as a startup, we prized financial independence.

The downfall of major CeFi and DeFi projects demonstrates the danger of hasty expansion. Faster growth comes with snowballing obligations. We choose gradual progression. We understand that an excessive influx of assets would lead to no good.

What does your workday look like?

My day begins with financial news. Then I have a look at the team’s messages (we use Slack) and reply when I should. I’m 100% engaged in developing and monitoring this business every day. Some days I stay up until 3 a.m.! As you can imagine, this schedule does not leave much time for public appearances.

CoinLoan is actively growing, but we have not reached the stage where private jets and personal assistants are fixtures of the CEO’s life. I am completely absorbed by the business, and I am giving my all to it. I still interact with all departments. Sometimes, I take part in business development communications.

I keep track of users’ feedback in all channels, including Telegram and Twitter. In my communications with the team, I do my best to respond ASAP. However, I have neither the time nor desire to communicate with clickbait news outlets.

– Since 2017, many strong competitors have entered the market. What are the biggest advantages of CoinLoan over other platforms?

As for crypto lending, we stand unrivaled in two respects — quality and functionality. It’s not an overstatement to say that our crypto loans are the most advanced on the market. Users who try them have no reason to look elsewhere. Besides, unlike some companies, we are actually able to provide flexible lending conditions to large corporate clients and accommodate non-standard requests.

Another strength is security – after all, Max and I both have a background in IT security. I can sleep soundly knowing that our cyber defense is rock solid.

Finally, CoinLoan is the only provider whose services extend beyond stablecoin and euro loans collateralized by crypto. We go in all directions — crypto-to-crypto, crypto-to-fiat, fiat-to-crypto. Users can borrow crypto using fiat as collateral. No other platform matches up to this.

— What are your plans for CoinLoan development over the next three years?

First, we are planning a funding round, with all capital going directly into corporate development. Next, will come our expansion beyond Estonia — we want to open at least two more offices in other countries, including one in the EU. CoinLoan has reached the point where it needs more influential jurisdictions like Switzerland, the UK, Singapore, or Dubai.

Thirdly, we will launch our card and provide corporate services, including margin trading for institutions and (possibly) retail clients. The next step could be an invest any crypto service like the ones offered by Robinhood and Revolut. We could also set up our own investment fund for crypto startups.

From a legal standpoint, CoinLoan could reach these milestones much sooner, but we don’t want to do anything in haste. These changes need a complex technical foundation, so we’d rather take our time.

— Tell us a bit about CLT. Why was it created and how do you intend to develop it in the future? What advantages does it give to investors?

For platform users, CLT unlocks the best service conditions. This year, we are giving our loyalty program a makeover, and we would like to integrate more opportunities for token holders.

You may have noticed that CLT is largely stable even in falling markets — there are no speculative fluctuations. Today, around 75% of ICO tokens are on the platform. That’s why, as I said before, we are going to hold another funding round and release more CLT onto the market.

However, we don’t want our tokens to land in weak hands. Our team is scrupulous when it comes to picking investors. Only those determined to invest long-term will have a chance.

— Many users praise CoinLoan for convenience and reliability. At the same time, we see an obvious demand for closer interaction with the team, including the CEO. Is it possible for you to devote more time to communication with the community?

I understand that most CEOs are more exposed to the public eye than me and welcome as much publicity as possible. I don't seek attention for the sake of attention. I engage in networking when I travel, and I am always ready to meet people in person. Given my schedule, you can see why getting more public exposure is not a priority.

Actually, I don’t want to be a talking head, although it would make my job easier. A professional must be judged by his deeds, not words. What really matters is the product. If it is mediocre and has unclear prospects, you are looking at a potential ponzi scheme.

This is not a popular approach, but our strategy works well. We’d rather perfect our product and create the best conditions for clients than walk around selling our faces.

As for the community, I am involved 24/7 — I read all posts on Telegram and take our clients’ feedback into consideration. I’ve replied a few times myself, but the group is streamlined, so Max and Mike are the go-to experts.

— Users often ask us about our rates. How does CoinLoan manage to offer such attractive conditions for Loans and Interest Account? Can we expect the rates to change in the near future?

We are open about our yield generation model — we've shared it publicly. We’ve maintained these conditions for so long because our initial calculations were precise. Currently, we are waiting for the technical implementation of fixed-term deposits. So yes, the interest rates for flex deposits will change.

— What does CoinLoan’s work with regulators include?

It is a tough job. CoinLoan has a painstaking attitude to regulation. Around 70% of the work done by the legal department is devoted to our relationships with these institutions. This includes numerous reports, questionnaires, and audits, as the regulators need to monitor the state of the market.

— What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who have just started to explore crypto?

If I had known about all the difficulties of driving this business forward, I would have possibly chosen another, simpler, niche. Working with crypto is extremely difficult — the risks and the responsibility you must accept are very high.

It’s not only about volatility. We have had to take multiple precautions to ensure the best asset protection. The regulatory landscape is also shifting rapidly. It is not clear what the rules of the game will be like in just half a year.

Someone entering the industry today may not have enough time to keep up with everything. The startup costs in the sector have ballooned. In the early days of CoinLoan, we had one lawyer managing everything.

Now, running a business without substantial resources is inconceivable. In 2017, a company could become successful with a startup capital of $3-7 million. Times have changed, and the costs have soared to $30-100 million.

— Do you have any advice for retail clients?

I would recommend converting 10-20% of personal funds into digital assets. They are the future. At the same time, the market is flooded with impostors these days, so telling legit projects from scams is increasingly difficult. Caution and DYOR (Do Your Own Research) are paramount.

Just five months before Terra's collapse, our in-house research revealed considerable risks associated with it. That’s why we have never had any connection to this protocol; we have never listed UST or LUNA. We foretold the collapse, so it did not come as a shock.

Shady methods in this market are nothing new. Years ago, users would earn tokens for viewing ads in a browser or letting an app count their steps. Most projects exploit things that have been used many times before and failed. There’s no real market to back them. Yet unfortunately, some people are easy targets. What’s more, recent UK research shows that 60% of the money invested in crypto was borrowed.

— What, in your opinion, are the key arguments proving that CoinLoan is legit?

It’s a good question that I’m not asked that often — those who know Max and me personally understand what kind of people we are. Some of our users have known me for a decade, and they keep massive capital on our platform without a shred of concern. I also know some large-scale miners who have stuck with CoinLoan for years. I think this is one of the best indicators of trust. We do our best to provide supreme services and move this industry forward, while clients appreciate our commitment to helping them make best use of their crypto.

— What are your impressions of the company's recent AMA session?

I think it went really well. Unfortunately, we didn’t devote much time to such events before. We now see how useful and necessary they are, so we are going to arrange them more often in the future and, possibly, try other formats.

This AMA confirmed that we have a thoughtful audience that understands why the measures we implemented were necessary. It was a pleasure to reply, even though some of the questions, I must admit, were a bit complicated. None of them were deleted or ignored, so every participant got an answer.

— Is there anything you would like to add?

The current situation is challenging — more challenging than the previous bear markets — but we have a time-tested business model. Our risk-management strategy helped us withstand extreme conditions before and keep on growing, so we look to the future with confidence.