Can you tell us more about yourself from a personal capacity? Who is Stephen Kines?
First of all, I am a father of three kids who share my love of connection to the wider world and being rooted in ideas rather than fixed to a specific place.
My wife is Czech so our permanent home is in Frydek-Mistek on the Czech/Polish/Slovak border where good snowboarding and hiking is close by and beer is still cheap (and possibly the best, though this may get me into some rather nationalistic debates).
My youngest daughter likes her school in London, and my son his university in London, and I like being there to be close to the financial markets and as a hub where people come to gather and for me to run a global business with the ease of connections.
My eldest daughter and family have their base in Canada so that still remains a third hub for my life and activities.
Tell us about your professional background. What skills do you bring to the table?
I’m an international corporate lawyer from Canada with more than 20 years’ experience in leading technology investments at both the large scale and start-up level.
I am qualified in six jurisdictions and have practiced in Silicon Valley, London and in Emerging Markets.
I recently served as both the Group General Counsel and an Advisor to the Board at The Libra Group, a diverse international business group that is active in 35 countries across six continents.
But mostly, I like collaborating with talented start-ups in launching their ideas into the world.
With years of experience in the blockchain start-up community I’ve seen the possibilities of this technology and wanted to start my own company.
Why did you set yourself to build Xcalibra?
I believe the world continues to be polarized by the growing rich-poor divide because of centralized ownership structures.
Blockchain upends this paradigm with decentralization allowing everyone to participate in the global economy, like for example Safex.
I believe cryptocurrencies are going to become the preferred means of payment in the next decades because the Internet is designed for transfer of value, only information and even at that it is severely flawed.
Since blockchain technology offers us more secure transactions with lower costs, we can be sure it is going to win in the long run.
To drive that change further we need a reliable place for people to trade digital assets and join the crypto revolution.
That is why I started Xcalibra – a new exchange that serves the end user and makes it easy for everyone to join.
How Xcalibra is different from all other exchanges?
Since the early days of bitcoin many tried to create a trusted place to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, and many failed. I followed their activities and saw where things went wrong.
My team of developers and I saw all the flaws in the development and usage of the current exchanges, and we began designing solutions.
We believe that our high-performance infrastructure and iron-clad security will give us a fighting chance for market share in an admittedly crowded market.
We are bringing secure and smooth performance when trading digital assets. We used the latest technology and best practice to give the users a reliable place where they can buy and sell digital assets.
Can you give us a legal observation on the current state of cryptocurrencies?
In my home country of Canada, Senator Doug Black pioneered an approach that I admire. He said:
“There is risk in anything; there is risk in fiat currency. We can manage risk at some level, but let’s also create an environment where innovation can be fostered.”
He recognized that rather than see blockchain as a threat, it should be seen as an opportunity for the government to securely interact with their citizens that respects their privacy.
We need safer harbors to innovate, not institutions treating us as criminals, and we need banks to be opened to processing payments and not continuing to enfranchise only centrally owned institutions.
We are at the beginning and there are countries like Switzerland that are fostering innovation and some offering sandboxes, but these are still the minority and the financial institutions are not yet co-operating.
Do you think there should be regulation of cryptocurrencies?
Regulation is an attempt at controlling behavior which is contradictory to the collaborative nature of blockchain. Instead we need to speak of governance, and this is something that interests me.
In fact, I recently obtained by Diploma from the Institute of Directors which has for more than a century been a leader in governance initiatives.
Governance uses incentives to act in the common interests just like blockchain, so that together with stewardship, we create together a bottom-up system of governance.
What is the goal of Xcalibra? The vision?
The vision for Xcalibra is to become the most trusted and secure place for trading digital assets in the world.
And we hope that the users will recognize us as such. The goal is to be the leader in pushing the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies by being a reliable place for trading.
One way we intend to do this is to foster strong communities that use digital assets.
We should have no doubt that this is a rare moment in history for us to change the power dynamic and if we don’t want this revolution to be co-opted and distorted by centralized authority, grassroots-community movements must take place and control the narrative.
At Xcalibra we want to give them a platform to interact.
Why is Serbia getting the first chance to try this exchange?
Serbia attracted us with its strong development community and government support for digitalization.
Serbia adheres to global financial standards and at the same time remains flexible in accepting innovation. Being in Europe but not hobbled by EU regulations, gives it a unique advantage.
With the opening of this exchange, greater accessibility of digital currencies in Serbia will be enabled and the costs to Serbian users reduced.
Our Serbian customers have been very helpful in giving us feedback on our soft launch to allow us to work out some kinks before our global launch to the rest of the world.