The first company to join TrustSwap’s incubator program, Verso Finance, conducted its IDO in April 2021. Verso is an Avalanche based decentralized marketplace that aims to connect Tradfi to Defi. This project is backed by top-tier investors including Ava Labs, Gate.io, AU21 Capital, DFG, JRR, and NGC. Trustpad crypto launchpad clients benefit from guaranteed allocation and no gas wars. Following the successful IDO, we sat down with Gregor Arn, a founding partner and visionary behind Verso.
Can you explain what Verso does in the simplest terms possible?
Verso enables financial service providers like insurance companies to reach more consumers around the world through a new distribution channel. Using distributed ledger technology, we deliver financial products at the lowest cost to new consumers. We connect on-demand microfinance with consumers in emerging markets; DeFi with non-crypto users, all in a trustless and compliant manner. The perfect bridge between DeFi and TradFi.
How was the idea of Verso born?
Verso Finance was born out of my passion for inclusive financial services. Due to the lack of small-value cross-border payment rails, I was unable to scale the first social payments app I launched in the Philippines in 2015. As a result of the challenge, we were led down an exciting path around microfinance, a tremendous opportunity where many infrastructures are still lacking. In short, we formed a team and built Wallet Engine, a cross-border financial institution that provides in-app wallets. Financial services and technology are combined under one roof so that apps can seamlessly integrate financial elements into their user journeys. Verso is built using apps that have millions of users around the world, which Wallet Engine has access to.
Having launched Avalanche mainnet in Sep 2020, we saw a real opportunity to focus on microfinance and solve financial service providers’ distribution challenges. Verso introduces a paradigm shift in the distribution of financial products. Verso takes care of distribution at scale, so financial service providers can focus on their product. Brand identity reflects our commitment. Verso is derived from Latin in vers* foli* (“on the turned leaf, on the turned page”), the ablative case of Latin verses (“turned, changed”) from the perfect passive participle of vert* (“turn”). Compare rēctus (“right”).
What is the utility behind Verso’s token?
Verso ($VSO) is an ERC-20 utility token created on the Avalanche chain. Verso’s financial platform and services are accessible via the token. For product creation, to become a compliance or product validator, to trigger wallet conversions, and to participate in governance, the token is essential. Moreover, there will be ecosystem vaults where anyone can stake VSO and participate in the economic upside.
Why should investors be excited about Verso?
It takes time for a startup to achieve great things. Tokens may be purchased for a variety of reasons. Unlike traders, we have a long-term horizon, and we’re company builders executing a vision. After showcasing the possibilities with the marketplace set to launch in Q1 2022, the value of Verso will be evident.
What are the challenges this industry is currently facing? How is Verso solving them?
Financial service providers have been facing a number of challenges related to the distribution of their products:
– Cost of user acquisition is greater than product margin
– Overhead associated with the complex settlement process
– Different integration standards across partners
– Microfinance is a massive opportunity but largely inaccessible due to overall unit economics
– The complexity of the landscape (regulation, data protection standards, DeFi, etc.)
Wallets and banks are directly connected to Verso’s distribution platform. The financial service provider distributes products based on criteria set by the right audience around the world. Verso smart contracts handle the conversion (e.g., when a consumer buys travel insurance) and settlement. Insurance contracts handle claim disbursements, while loans contracts handle repayments. In a trustless environment, parties do not need to sign commercial agreements or integrate their systems with each other.
Where do you see the DeFi industry going next?
First, I believe that traditional finance and decentralized finance will move closer together, and innovation will eventually involve both. Several factors determine the speed of this convergence; regulation and consumer protection are two of them. Over the next 24 months, we will see a lot of innovation on the product side (which hasn’t been possible for many years due to technological limitations or cost-prohibitive distribution networks).
The best products, however, do not improve an inclusive financial economy if people who need them cannot access them. Verso comes into play here. Our focus is on the distribution challenge. Our goal is to help companies who are building innovative products reach their target customers quickly and conveniently. Moreover, we provide convenient, secure, and low-risk access to financial products through people’s preferred wallet or banking partner.
What were some of the most rewarding parts of this journey for you?
Our team’s biggest reward is making something meaningful and industry-transforming. Verso’s overall mission goes far beyond just “making a lot of money,” but instead strives to make people’s lives easier, more convenient, and financially accessible. Also, we want to play a role in bringing more users into the DeFi world, and I think we have some really good tools to do so. A significant part of the journey is the community of investors, partners, and competitors. Our ecosystem keeps us on our toes and keeps us striving for success and growth. Though it is not an easy journey, we find it incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.
What comes next on Verso’s product roadmap for the next three to six months?
We are excited to announce the launch of our financial product marketplace. Our first two travel protection products are Flex Flights and Flex Stays. Our initial focus will be on opening up distribution channels for microfinance (from DeFi and TradFi) to FIAT wallets. There are over 3,000 regulated e-wallets worldwide; many of them are the primary means of storing digital value in emerging markets.
The next step is to open up distribution channels to non-custodial wallets as well. Dash and their merchant network have already partnered with us on this. We will expand our network, marketplace, and wallet reach in 2022 while signing up TradFi and DeFi companies. The Verso ecosystem will also include several functions where the community can actively participate. Passive income opportunities from real-world products are provided by roles such as product validators. Keep up with Verso’s announcements by following them on Twitter and Telegram.