The Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom (FCA) claims to have focused on the more negative aspects of the cryptocurrency debate
Describe Zumo in a few words.
Zumo serves as a cutting-edge digital-assets infrastructure platform, enabling Web2 enterprises to seamlessly transition into the realm of Web3.
Where is your company established?
The company's headquarters are located in the vibrant city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Our team is spread across various locations in the United Kingdom and expanding further into Europe. As a business, we embrace a decentralized approach, although we still maintain a central hub in Edinburgh.
Both my co-founder, Paul Roach, and I found ourselves in Edinburgh for different reasons, but we shared a common goal of starting a business in this vibrant city. Edinburgh has a distinguished legacy in the field of computer science, with its university consistently ranking among the top three schools in Europe for informatics. Moreover, at that time, the university was launching its inaugural blockchain and AI accelerator, and we were fortunate enough to secure a spot in the first cohort in 2018.
Nick Jones serves as the co-founder and CEO of Zumo, a company dedicated to making cryptocurrencies accessible to a wider audience by prioritizing security, user-friendliness, and fostering financial inclusivity.
Edinburgh is likely the second most prominent startup hub in the UK, boasting a diverse range of talented individuals. We have made the decision to remain here, largely due to the pandemic which has granted us the flexibility to not solely depend on Scotland's relatively small yet highly skilled talent pool. With a population of only 5.5 million, Scotland primarily serves as a secondary hub for financial services and banking, outside of London, resulting in a competitive environment where exceptional individuals are swiftly recruited.
How long is your horizon to stay in Edinburgh?
There are several ongoing developments currently taking place. Firstly, there is the regulatory perspective regarding the U.K., and we are optimistic about its potential to become a prominent hub for digital assets. The progress made so far is quite encouraging, although we hope for a more accelerated pace considering the considerable time it has been in progress.
While Brexit has brought forth numerous disadvantages, one potential advantage could be increased flexibility in operating within the digital assets landscape. However, it is important to note that we have yet to witness significant manifestations of these benefits.
We have a large workforce in London. Having lived there for an extended period, I've witnessed the exceptionally close relationship between Edinburgh and London, both being prominent financial centers in the U.K. The connectivity between them is remarkable, with approximately 10 flights operating daily. These cities serve as highly interconnected bases. As long as the U.K. continues its trajectory towards becoming a new Singapore, Switzerland, or even an Abu Dhabi, we are genuinely eager to remain a part of this journey. With our extensive experience in the market, we perceive the true strength of London and the U.K. lies in the synergy between traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi), leveraging the rich heritage of London.
This year, we have set our sights on establishing a secondary regulatory hub in Abu Dhabi. We firmly believe that this approach presents an excellent opportunity to expand our reach into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as South Asia, much like how we have utilized London as a launching pad for our operations in Europe.
CoinDesk rated Dubai higher as a crypto hub. How did you choose between Abu Dhabi and Dubai?
We have directed our attention towards selling our products in the Traditional Finance (TradFi) sector, and for this reason, we found Abu Dhabi to be an excellent match. Both markets are equally favorable choices, but we found a strong synergy with the TradFi sector, particularly due to its extensive reach in South India and the well-established market for selling into South Asia. However, if our plan involved relaunching Zumo as a business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprise, I would give serious consideration to Dubai as the primary target market.
Is Zumo entirely registered in Scotland?
No, but our business registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) operates in the United Kingdom. Our Scottish-listed subsidiary and English-listed holding company follow a common setup, which is quite prevalent. This arrangement serves as a potential safeguard against the prospect of Scottish independence and any resulting regulatory uncertainties. In terms of regulatory compliance, we maintain a rather mundane structure, devoid of any unconventional arrangements involving offshore locations like the Cayman Islands. Once we expand into Abu Dhabi, we will establish a company there. Additionally, it is highly likely that we will establish a European entity by the end of this year.
You’ve told us about the pros of Edinburgh. Are there any cons?
It's a small town, which poses the greatest challenge: the limited availability of top talent and the associated costs that come with it.
Furthermore, if you have been working in the U.K. industry for a significant period, there remains a lingering apprehension that things may not go as smoothly as anticipated. However, there is some optimism stemming from the prospective Labour government, as they seem inclined to maintain the current course and refrain from overturning Brexit. Consequently, the associated risk appears to be diminishing progressively.
Are you and your co-founder native to Scotland?
He hails from Aberdeen and attended the University of Edinburgh, whereas I was born in England. Interestingly, there seem to be more Scottish individuals residing in England than in Scotland itself, or so they say. This phenomenon can be attributed to the significant migration, especially between London and Edinburgh, driven by the financial services sector. This well-established route sees a substantial amount of movement and activity.