According to Kevin de Patoul, crypto winter is far from over. But Keyrock’s CEO remains convinced that the crypto “revolution” is about to shake up the financial world.
Brussels-based crypto-active Keyrock just has to raise $72 million. Its CEO, Kevin de Patoul, has been swimming against the tide in a particularly difficult market in the past year.
A $72 million fundraising in the middle of crypto winter that surprises…
For us, the timing is great. The bubble has burst. Some boxes are in trouble. We are against this trend. It is very positive for us. In terms of recruitment, for example, there are more profiles on the market.
What made this operation possible?
A mixture of two things. First, a strategy based on the long term. Since the creation of Keyrock five years ago, we have grown every year. It’s not a flash in the pan. It is not about expanding the market. We started the company in late 2017, just before the market crashed for two years. Today, since it’s crypto winter, we’re doing a big fundraiser. Our growth is independent of market fluctuations.
“There is a lot of money in the market. New funds are investing huge amounts.”
The second element: our investors know us. Ripple, our main investor, has been active in cryptos for ten years, and has also been our client for over three years. The information asymmetry that one usually has with an institutional investor does not exist with Ripple, who knows our services, our teams and our technology inside out.
In this period of economic uncertainty, one would think that investors are more cautious…
There is a lot of money in the market. New funds are investing large sums. There are funds available. But when the environment is negative, investors are in a strong position to negotiate lower estimates. In the end, it is always a negotiation between company managers and investors. In our case, we were able to achieve a large fundraising. We are very happy.
It’s not every day that a Belgian box does a fundraiser like this. What is Keyrock’s spec?
The issue of location is not important. We are based in Belgium, but we do not have a single customer in Belgium. A large part of the team is based abroad. We are active in a global market, which operates 24 hours a day, in all time zones.
“Crypto technology will replace all existing technologies in the financial market”.
Does this fundraising show that there is real business in crypto, behind the speculative aspect?
The first misconception is to consider crypto as a homogeneous asset class. The only common denominator is blockchain technology. But each crypto has a different use case and its own specificity.
Moreover, it should be understood that cryptotechnology will replace all existing technologies in the financial market. It’s a basic movement. In the same way that paper transactions have been replaced by electronic systems, 100% centralized systems will be replaced by systems that offer opportunities for decentralization. This is where the business opportunities lie.
The question is not knowing what the value of this or that crypto is. Rather, it is to understand a technological evolution that is revolutionizing the way in which value is exchanged. This revolution has the same impact on the exchange of values that the Internet has had on the exchange of information. Business is big.
How is this technology (blockchain) revolutionary?
Blockchain gives the same digital characteristics of ease of exchange of assets, guaranteeing their uniqueness. It creates assets as unique as cash, but as easy to transfer as digital documents. This allows you to exchange value without going through a trusted third party.
“The FTX, Celsius scandals… bring to light completely irresponsible and sometimes fraudulent behavior by some companies.”
Today, an online payment is always made through a bank, which involves restrictions, especially in terms of amount. Blockchain offers the possibility of removing this physical restriction by a trusted third party.
The FTX platform had a good reputation. Isn’t it disturbing to see such a big player go bankrupt and be accused of serious wrongdoing?
The FTX, Celsius scandals… highlight the totally irresponsible and sometimes even fraudulent behavior of some companies. The good news is that it drives these players out of the market. And it allows you to ask real questions. What matters is the utility of crypto. Ultimately, these scandals will have a positive effect.
Moreover, these scandals are not new. They are comparable to other financial scandals, such as Enron or Lehman Brothers. Any actor, even a well-placed one, can explode. Despite the hype, you have to ask, dig, check… This is valid in crypto, as in other sectors.
The FTX scandal, you didn’t even see it coming. FTX, he was your client…
We must accept our limitations. We have been in the market for five years, we work with all major crypto platforms. We know the teams personally. At FTX, we had distributed capital, direct communication with an account manager… As soon as we noticed concerns, we reduced our exposure and risk. Despite everything, we lost some of our possessions.
We will therefore have to be even more vigilant in the future and constantly reassess our risk exposure. Because in this market there are not the same regulations and the same security as in traditional markets.
Should cryptos be regulated?
Yes. There is no reason not to. How does FTX differ from a Nasdaq? They are centralized exchange platforms, even if the assets traded are different. Currently, the regulation is flawed. The regulatory framework must evolve, but it it should also adapt to the crypto world.
“As the market matures and becomes more professional, the risk of contagion will decrease.”
All these crypto players are interdependent. There are risks of infection. Where will this stop?
A market, by definition, is a network of participants interacting in the value chain. The risk of infection exists. Where will this stop? It depends on the risk management policy of different players. As the market matures and becomes more professional, the risk of contagion will decrease. FTX is a consequence of Luna, which rules Celsius, which rules Alamada. But we do not yet know the final consequences of the FTX bankruptcy.
Will it continue?
We can expect this to continue. But it’s like an earthquake. We may have aftershocks, but they are less and less strong.
On the side of Binance, the largest crypto platform, there are also some concerns emerging. Can Binance Fall?
I have no information about this. But you can never rule out this possibility when you see everything that has happened. Then, we must not fall to the other extreme. If we don’t trust anyone anymore, we kill the market.
“The bankruptcy of FTX sets us back in months or years.”
If there were major concerns about Binance, would the entire market crash?
This would be very problematic for the market. But Binance remains an individual player. The bankruptcy of FTX sets us back a few months or a few years. A problem on Binance would be the same. Traded volume would drop dramatically, confidence would drop, the speed at which the market could hope to mature would be reduced. But that doesn’t change the potential of the crypto market. If Binance dies, crypto doesn’t stop. The ability to make exchanges in a decentralized manner does not depend on a single actor.
We are in the middle of crypto winter. How to explain that the value of bitcoin explodes past $60,000, then sinks in a few months below $20,000?
What affects the price of bitcoin is supply and demand. When there is a noise, it grows. When there is a crisis of confidence, it goes downhill. The current lack of confidence in crypto is explained by a certain lack of knowledge about the market.
Crypto is a lot of acronyms, jargon, it’s quite complicated and intangible. It is even more intangible as there is no centralized reference body. Bitcoin is not a business. There are many misconceptions, which generate fear. And since most of the communication in the crypto sector is quite negative, this reinforces distrust.
Most crypto investors are there for speculative reasons…
This is true. But many people who buy stock have no idea what the company is doing behind it. Others invest in real estate without intending to live there. Basically, everything is speculated all the time. The strength of crypto is that it is easy to access.
It’s crypto winter. Some even talk about an ice age. In 2023, will we see the return of spring?
I think it will take some time. Then the return of spring is necessarily synonymous with rising prices? I do not think so. What matters is not that. What matters is the next wave of innovations that will have a real impact on the market. Many companies continue to create outstanding and growing products.
If we only take the crypto price parameter, I don’t think we will start a bull market again in three months. If we look at the history of the market, we see that it generally takes longer. It all got too big too fast and it all blew up. We’re not done seeing the aftermath of this year’s various collapses yet.
- “Crypto technology will replace all existing technologies in the financial market”.
- “Eventually, scandals like FTX will have a positive effect.”
- “If Binance dies, crypto doesn’t stop.”
- “The current lack of confidence in crypto is explained by a certain misunderstanding of the market.”
- “We have not yet finished seeing the consequences of this year’s various collapses.”
What conclusions can we draw from 2022? What to expect from 2023? With interviews with knowledgeable observers, L’Echo anticipates the key issues of the new year, while taking a look in the rear-view mirror.