FinTech Chat (FTC) is a series of educational & informative interviews with world professionals in the FinTech / Crypto / Blockchain communities. We aim to provide content that is digestible in multiple mediums such as video, audio (podcast), and written (blog) form!
FTC Episode 10 Adel Shahin is an entrepreneur, marketing manager and free-lance author. He has been working with start-ups for many years. Currently, Adel is at the helm of Nekhbit, which he founded back in 2019. Nekhbit is a “one-stop-shop for launching and validating the market for new products.” What can be described as a combination of funny and unlikely, yet foreshadowing event that Adel loves to cite as his entrance into crypto, is the time he used Bitcoin (BTC) for the first time to pay a freelancer in Africa back in 2016.
Note: This transcript was automatically generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and therefore typos and grammatical errors may be present.
Intro: Interviews on crypto blockchain with your host, Blockchain Wayne on FTC
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Hey and welcome back to another episode. Today we are joined by Adel Shahin. Now Adel is the co-founder of Nekhbit, marketing agency. We were kind of talking beforehand. They do some traditional marketing, some crypto marketing, but he’s got a whole lot of background in the space. So Adel, thanks for joining us today for this interview.
ADEL SHAHIN: No worries, thanks for having me.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Awesome, awesome. So let’s start with… first and foremost, man, like tell us a little before we get into the companies and some of the work you’re doing. Tell me about your background, what kind of work have you done in the past that kind of led you up to and how did you get into the cryptocurrency space?
ADEL SHAHIN: Sure, sure. Actually my background’s been in fintech and payments for probably seven or eight years now. I was working with a payments company out of Australia and I kind of helped them IPO. And I was kind of in charge of the market research and the prospectus. And… you know, anyone in fintech even in 2013 2014 was wondering where the trend is going to go, so we’re doing a lot of research around blockchain and… you know, how to get investors excited about blockchain. So yeah, we put a pretty decent chunk of our prospectus about blockchain and how we’re… how it’s going to move and it’s going to be instant transfers around the globe. And everyone is super excited about that, of course.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Nice, nice, and so Nekhbit, now that that’s your company, right, co-founder? Tell me what is… you know, how does Nekhbit fit into the space today?
ADEL SHAHIN: Sure, sure, so Nekhbit we focus on product marketing mostly. We’ve worked with about 10 different blockchain companies. We don’t focus just on blockchain, but my co-founder and I have been in blockchain for a while, so we know the space quite well. So we know what we understand how to kind of design token economics, if people are looking for consultancy. But we focus… sorry, we try to do more execution. So our approach or let’s say our full suite of offering is start to finish would be working on you to figure out your product, and then figure out how you’re going to sell it, and then would go from there and build landing pages for that product. So these landing pages will be optimized to wherever the audience is going to be, whether it be an investor or end user or whatever it’s going to be. So we’ll set up probably three to five different landing pages, and then we go out and create ads for these landing pages, so we get… we send traffic to their pages and we try to validate your product as soon as possible. So our ideal like clients or people that we work with are people trying to validate new startups obviously but also bigger companies are kind of moving into different regions. So it’s the world’s a big place and just because you are something fancy in the US, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be received the same way in China or Korea or whatever it’s going to be. So that’s where we kind of utilize these landing pages. They’re very flexible and very easy to edit and very easy to optimize. Yeah, it’s… it’s pretty exciting space actually if you’re in marketing, because that’s the new trend I would say is around product marketing now.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah you know I mean one thing I tell people all the time and I’ve seen it, you’ve seen that you’ve been in the space long enough. There’s a lot of great projects out there that from a price standpoint seem to be dying just because there’s not a lot of marketing behind it. There’s not a lot of awareness and you have and it’s no different than traditional business, right. You open a restaurant, you don’t have traffic to that business, it’s going to die, no matter how good your food is, so it’s kind of the same in this space, where you gotta, you’ve gotta have traffic, and you’ve gotta… you know, have… have a following to get the thing…
ADEL SHAHIN: Sorry, Wayne, most people don’t realize that… you know, let’s say you spend half a million to build the product, you should be spending at least half a million to promote that product. It should be like a one-to-one ratio… you know, and most companies or people just think… you know, the hard part is getting to take out and then people will come.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah yeah, it doesn’t always have to be the best product, but you got to have some marketing (ADEL SHAHIN: Exactly) We see that with Facebook, right. I mean there’s… there’s… there’s a lot of different… you know, better social media platforms that could be built but (ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah), that’s what people go to, so…
ADEL SHAHIN: Well, we’ve seen a lot of them crypto as well, right. I mean if you look at let’s say top ten on Coinmarketcap or on Coingecko, how many of those projects have good technology behind them as opposed to good marketing.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, yeah, true. They get a… they get a community following and they they rock it up in price. Yeah I know. I’m looking all the time looking at some in the lower you know… 20 to 30 and I… I’ve researched projects all the time. It’s like… man, some of these should be higher. You know, one that I’m a big fan of is Tezos and I just think they had a lot of good hype in the beginning, but right now, they’ve just kind of been stagnant, but it’s great tech… you know, so exactly stealing the the spotlight right now.
ADEL SHAHIN: This was actually doing a lot in China. I’ve seen them kind of look for different companies to incubate, so maybe they’re going for a Chinese approach soon.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah they’re actually so in France, they’re working on blockchain voting systems and actually there’s a founder and new founder of one of the foundations in New Orleans, Tezos foundation. And he said he spends most of his time working with skyping with people in Africa, working on trying to look into economies that aren’t well established to where they can infuse crypto to… to grow… you know, and… and countries where we live in or we’ve been around, right, most of them have established economies that most people that don’t really dig deep see they work. So they’re trying to find ones where it’s easier to… you know, build from the ground up than to try to replace an existing system.
ADEL SHAHIN: I’m surprised they haven’t gone after Venezuela just like all the other big crypto guys.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: And that may be on the… on their agenda, too, but yeah that’s definitely definitely something… you know, people in Venezuela, for them crypto is not… it’s not a speculative investment. It could be in the matter of survival.
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, yeah, I’ve actually heard in Brazil, just after real estate, Bitcoin is the biggest investment vehicle now, people have lost trust in all other investment methods.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, yeah, I met the team from Dash and they’ve got a big group down there that’s… that’s… you know, trying… you know, working on keep… you know, keeping that relevant too down there. So moving along, so we talked about Nekhbit, now you do some work for other companies, is there anything you can tell us about that? Is it all around marketing or are there other aspects of it?
ADEL SHAHIN: Honestly, my expertise is mostly in marketing, so they will ask me sometimes for introductions for fundraising and… and the likes, especially being based out of China. I mean as you know, China has money, so the invest of the community here is decent. We’ve done a lot of events and what nine road shows a couple of years ago, not so much now, because of Covid. But the interest is still high, I would say, I’ve been involved in OTC as well. We’re seeing a slowdown in China again but mostly because the US versus RMB is not the greatest exchange rate as of now, so there could be a big contributor why people are slowing down holding either USD or holding RMB waiting for the price to improve. But yeah, so my experience or companies that I’ve worked with, I used to work for a company called Decent. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them. They’re based out of Slovakia. They had a good presence in China, so I was based out of their office here. And we were doing really exciting stuff. Actually we were in a supply chain space, so we had a aviation company we built like a what’s called like an ERP system that was automated with smart contracts. And you know, invoicing was all built in there and everything was like if you look at this, I mean I’ve been in the corporate world for a bit so comparing something like Salesforce or like a Microsoft Solution to this thing was just amazing, because the flow made sense and everything worked as it should off and it was all automated.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah so many people… you know, that may be watching this or are… are new to cryptocurrency, they think it’s all about a token, and they don’t realize there’s so many different aspects of it. I mean you brought up some when so much… so many different things that blockchain can do obviously. Cryptocurrency needs to be involved there but just whether it’s smart contracts to automate business to automate contracts, right, out of the… you know, the development, so you… you got… you… you have your ear to the space very closely, what are some of the projects you’ve seen lately that excites you the most or you think have the most potential?
ADEL SHAHIN: No I mean, you… you asked on a very bad day because if you look at the market at the moment, everything’s in like red. And if you look at what’s in the positive, this is all stablecoins, right, so stablecoins are definitely the cornerstone of crypto. I’m just curious if they need to be USD, because a lot of us are losing faith in the usd, let’s say ticker… (BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: yeah) So I’m curious if there’s going to be more stablecoins in other currencies that take dominance, that’s what I’m really interested in and these days. Honestly, with the whole DeFi thing, I’m looking a lot at the Binance chain stuff, so the BSC, I’m not sure if you’ve been following it (BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah), but yeah Binance launched earlier this year, I think, and they are pushing their chain quite heavily. Their gas is almost free and their DeFi projects are just as ridiculous in terms of returns… you know, so if you jump in early that’s what I’ve been looking at, so one of the bigger projects I kind of jumped into was stake and they’re doing some interesting stuff around, because they did the whole farming thing and they did the whole liquidity thing, and then they realized actually as soon as the stake finished, people are gonna leave, right, so what they did they came out this announcement was like, hey we’re going to take a random snapshot at a date that you don’t know, and we’re going to give you 5x whatever you have. The only caveat is if you cash out, you’re disqualified but they pretty much did that for like three to six months, I think and it’s still going on now. So no one actually knows the date that is gonna happen, so it’s encouraged people to actively jump on their website actively harvest whatever they’re farming and stay in the game that hasn’t affected the price much, but yeah I’ll be curious to see what the aftermath of it is because it’s all experiments at the moment, right?
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, it’s very interesting that you bring that up, that is because what was it just last week, I think a lot of the staking on Uniswap… you know, it was coming in and so, or at least that period opened and a lot of… a lot of we saw a lot of fund switch over to what was the Sushiswap and (ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah) funny… you know, to watch the rise and fall of some of these projects, I’m like you DeFi excites me. There’s a lot that it has potential for, but there’s been a lot of bugs, a lot of flaws, a lot of rug. Anybody can launch a project just like in 2017, 2018. Anybody could launch an IPO. Anybody can launch a project. It’s… it’s… but the underlying technology is what… what can have huge potential, so I’ve dabbled around with it, nothing I’ve seen stories of people…. you know, that have just gone all in and oh wow, you go all in on a risky technology, no matter how you be, in the end, you can lose everything and people have gotten burned. And you know, and… and… but… I still… I still see potential, I think my biggest gain in the DeFi space was the fact that I was using Uniswap over the summer, so when they did airdrop their tokens, I was able to claim that on a few different wallets. So that was, that was probably the best… the best I’ve done, right. (ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah) Yeah, and then what last week, there was a Pickle.finance was drained of like 20 million dollars.
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, around that, around there. What’s interesting for me at the moment is a lot of these governance coins or governance tokens are coming out. I’m curious if that’s going to be their downfall like we’ve already seen so many flesh loan attacks, right. At the end of the day, can you really trust your community to do your governance for you, because I don’t know people are not as smart as you think they are, right.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah yeah yeah we see that every day, right, so…
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, yeah, so I’ll be curious to see… you know, the long game on these governance coins where they’re actually more reliant on their proposals. And yeah, is… is there going to be some competitive malicious activity… I mean, Binance could buy a lot of Uniswap tokens, right? (ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah) They could propose whatever they want to propose.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: And drive people over yeah… That… that is true. So, yeah it’s… it’s a… it’s kind of like the wild west. It’s going to be a crazy world, but what’s going to emerge is going to be huge, just like… just like… you know, just like we’ve seen in cycles over time and different technologies in the beginning. It’s crazy, it’s volatile, it’s… it’s risky. And you know, eventually these proposals come about but it’s… it’s still early, right? So…
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Well, I’m very excited in DeFi like the more on the loans and lending and kind of interest bearing stuff that really excites me. And insurance, there’s some one of my friends is working on a project called Nsure. And they are like giving the power back to the people where you can be an underwriter for the insurance. So if you can imagine… you know, the big guys making IIG, kind of level money, you can bring that back to the people if you deposit your own money back in so it’ll be exciting to see if their success and kind of if that level of insurance picks up and it becomes the norm, right?
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, yeah, that could definitely get to… get… get to a lot of people loving the space effect that it gives a… it gives a potential for people that couldn’t participate in these financial markets prior will now have the ability to, so that’s… I think that’s the most exciting part and back to what you said about stablecoins, I mean that kind of ties into DeFi a lot… a lot of… you know, there’s a lot of stablecoins in there. And I agree stablecoins it’s kind of the bridge that’s going to lead to adoption, because a merchant… you know, if a merchant took Bitcoin last week that they’d be doing pretty… they were doing pretty good, but if they took it yesterday, right there, they’re red red dropped today, so it’s too volatile for right now for most companies that have slim margins, because they can’t afford to lose some value. But stablecoins are the way to go, I mean I know there hasn’t been a lot of talk about it lately but when Facebook proposed Libra, one of the things about it was it was going to be a basket of assets that back it, not just the US dollar that would be a better approach to levelize it, because we’re… right, I mean, faith in the US dollar is going down and down, especially as we see the printing this happened this year.
ADEL SHAHIN: The good old trillions, you didn’t get a cut of that, did you?
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: No, no, didn’t get to see any of that, man, but yeah, what was the graphic I saw and this was probably a couple months ago, it’s like 20 to 22 percent of all the dollars in circulation were printed this year.
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, I saw something similar. It is ridiculous if you think about it.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah and I mean we experienced a currency war, right, China. I was reading an article last night about how and this was on Cointelegraph. It was… it was talking about how the some people in the US view the… this… the central bank digital currency of the Chinese… you know, to be a security threat to the US. And then if they fail to… to innovate and adopt… you know, the… these measures but currency wars could weaken… you know, we could see some of the things like we saw in other countries, inflation in multiple countries, just kind of a lot of volatility as you know play this out, because all currencies… you know, all fiat currencies basically are… you know, constantly losing value. It’s just which one’s gonna be the fastest race to zero net.
ADEL SHAHIN: China…. China’s pretty innovative when it comes to this, because they’ve already released their digital yuan, and they’ve been trialling it out in Guangdong which is like South China. And their adoption strategy is pretty interesting because they went through the banks of course. And then they kind of did this lottery where if you sign up, you’ve got a chance to earn or to win 200 RMB, right. It’s all in digital currency, so that’s roughly like 35 USD… No, now it’s closer to 45 USD, but yeah, the adoption went through the roof. So they’re running through another lottery style adoption, probably in another province very soon. So yeah, when you talk about fiats, you got to remember they’re going digital, too.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, yeah, and I think that’s going to be another bridge to adoption. I don’t think it’s a threat to cryptocurrency because that’s if people are forced to adopt that and then say they see a better… a better vehicle out there, they’re going to jump into that one which would be… you know, some of your truly decentralized… you know, cryptocurrencies where there’s… you know, less control, less manipulation, or less authority… you know, because that’s… that’s kind of the best way to go how do you feel about this. So do you follow Andreas Antonopoulos at all?
ADEL SHAHIN: Not so much personally, but in… in China, we use Wechat, so we’ve got crypto Wechats left right and center, so occasionally someone will put up a screenshot and be like, hey look what he said.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, biggest thing about him I was I was reading one of his books, and he talks about failure to innovate. And he talked about the automobile industry back in the early days where… you know, the US really jumped on board and adopted the auto industry and innovated there whereas they put a lot of restrictions to where you literally had to have a spotter and a flag man to operate a vehicle. In other words, somebody in it with a flag walking ahead of the vehicle to warn people the car is coming, and that slowed innovation. And so what happened with that? The US became one of the powerhouses in the automobile industry and the UK did. Do you see kind of that’s… kind of the same thing that could happen if… if a country like especially the US fails to adopt and innovate in the cryptocurrency space, and they stay more restrictive?
ADEL SHAHIN: It’s an interesting perspective, because I mean when you think about China, you think regulation, right. And actually buying and selling cryptos is still illegal here. It’s not. There’s no legal option for you to do it. The… the government knows about the bigger exchanges and they have relationships with like Huobi and… but at the end of the day they’re just keeping an eye out. They know they can shut it down whenever they want, so it’s interesting that you would say they’re loosening regulation, because they’re building a digital currency. Yes but they’re doing it in a private network. I don’t think there’s ever going to be interoperability with like let’s say a decentralized exchange like… you know, switching your digital yuan into a digital usd. It’ll be interesting to see if it goes that route. But I don’t personally think China’s winning the technology race, they’re winning the currency race, because they’re going to adoption.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was… what I was thinking not necessarily, yeah, because I know I mean it’s going to be heavily regulated, not very open, but in the essence of not necessarily the… the cryptocurrency wars but the currency war, the currency of tech between nations, right, this could weaken if we don’t… if the US doesn’t adopt, you can see the dollar continue to weaken further, which could strengthen China and other countries that… that are innovating in that… in that CBDC space, yeah, in the end, right. Oh I agree, it’s going to be a private closed network. That’s going to be heavily censored and regulated, so it’s still…. it’s not going to be the best that’s out there, because that’s what’s being built in… in the crypto.
ADEL SHAHIN: Yeah, but like again, so the USD has got dominance. Of course, we all agree on that. Most business gets done in USD. China is taking the other approach, so they are going to tourism and these countries people like Korea and Japan and even New Zealand. I’m from New Zealand by the way. They’re coming out and saying how do we accept more Chinese tourist money, so they are actually businesses are coming out and saying please give us Wechat pay, please give us Alipay, we want to accept this money, we want to make it easier for our Chinese visitors. So it’s interesting, I think it’s just going to be a small psychological change between hey I’m already getting you and why don’t I pay my suppliers and you and because they’re coming from China anyway, so yeah they’re taking two different approaches. And it’s hard to tell which one’s gonna win but the US definitely needs to pick up its game, because they’re forgetting that you know tourism is a big big industry.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, so I mean it’s all speculation right now, but it’s going to be interesting to see how this thing plays out. Yeah, so is there… excuse me, sorry is… is there anything, any kind of you mentioned… we talked about stablecoins earlier and brought it up again, talking about what it should be backed by… what do you think would be a good mixture of backing for a… for a stablecoin?
ADEL SHAHIN: Honestly, like my personal opinion on this will definitely be different from everyone else, but I don’t think it matters what it’s backed up by, because at the end of the day, it all operates on trust. If the company let’s say USDT, if they do not buy and sell orders it’s going to keep it a dollar, if there isn’t enough buy or sell orders as long as USDT is able and capable to pay out whoever is kind of requesting a payout which… again I don’t know any percentages but I doubt it’s a big part of the world that’s getting USDT payout from USDT, right? (BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah) It’s so much cheaper for you to go local OTC or whatever you’re using and get your local currency like that’s what we do in China, right, like I’m personally holding different stablecoins. I’m not holding them and I’m gonna go to… you know Coinbase and say give me my money. I don’t even have an American bank account, but when I want to cash out, I send it to a New Zealand exchange or an Australian exchange and I withdraw from there to my New Zealand bank account. So it doesn’t matter if Coinbase or Tether has any assets at all as long as there’s enough trust by everyone else, then you know their job is done. What I’d be more interested in to see if these… these stablecoin companies are going to move into the DeFi world, because now we’re seeing a lot of crypto exchanges move into it. They’re doing a lot of baking, a lot of mining, a lot of blending so it’s interesting if they’re going to try and win back some of their user base and say, hey why don’t you jump on tether.com and give us 10000 or 50000 to USDT and we’ll give you interest on it. (BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah) So that I think that’s going to be their more logical route if they want to stay relevant. It’s not going to be their whatever they’re backed with because like in today’s day, we’ve got what maybe 30 40 different stablecoins now or…
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, and it’s growing. You’re right. It… but it’s all about trust, what about… what about you think coins that are backed by like commodities like I’ve done an interview recently with a guy that worked in a project where they tokenized different metals not just gold? Do you see any… any kind of…?
ADEL SHAHIN: I’ve got a buddy. He’s in the waste management space and they discover a lot of unregistered precious metals, let’s say. So he literally has his house has a couple of tons of… you know, titanium and the likes. And he can’t sell them because they’re not registered, so these stablecoins that are based on commodities, I think they’re going to bring some real value back to things like… you know, blacklisted gold or blacklisted titanium or whatever the precious metals are. But again who are you gonna trust is there gonna be an orator that walks down and scans it and sees yeah this is 100% gold or 99.9% or whatever it is.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, so you’re right, so it all comes back to trust.
ADEL SHAHIN: I’d love to see more commodity-based stuff, but like how do you set up transparency on that, it’s… it’s so easy to fake everything in today’s age.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yeah, yeah, that is the hard part, but I mean… you know, let’s talk to the US Fort Knox, is there really a lot… is there really much gold left in there, or is it just a front…
ADEL SHAHIN: But doesn’t matter that’s at the end of the day like (BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: yeah) if it works, it works all right.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Yep, but they also… you know, these are all been great points, man. Are there any final thoughts or anything else you’d like to share before we wrap up… wrap up the interview?
ADEL SHAHIN: Also it’s been a pleasure talking to you, Wayne. It’s really an interesting setup I haven’t done one of these online before. Yeah, stay… stay tuned then for crypto, especially in DeFi. I’m very bullish on a space I would say, and yeah it’s going to be my retirement fund hopefully.
BLOCKCHAIN WAYNE: Absolutely, absolutely. All right, Adel, well thanks, thanks again for joining us today. Everybody else, thanks for watching and we’ll see you all next week.
ADEL SHAHIN: See you guys.
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About Blockchain Wayne (Host)
Wayne has been managing, teaching, and coaching high performing teams for over 20 years. He has a passion for helping and teaching people and a passion for cryptocurrency and blockchain projects. He has created various coaching programs and partnerships with select education platforms and cryptocurrency program tools.
You can learn more on his website: https://www.blockchainwayne.com/