Welcome to The Ask, where each week Crypto Investor interviews essential voices doing the work to make crypto ‘mainstream.’ Exchange lightly edited.

This week, senior reporter Stacy Elliott spoke with JB Graftieaux, the newly appointed managing director, overseeing Bitstamp’s European market. Before rejoining Bitstamp — he was the company’s chief compliance officer from 2014 to 2016 — he was the chief compliance officer at PayPal.

He left to head up payments for eBay in Europe. Now that he’s back with Bitstamp, his new role will involve all of the above: Compliance, maintaining the company’s payments license in Europe and growing the customer base. Which may, he said, involve exploring gaming and sports.

You left a chief compliance officer role at PayPal for your first stint at Bitstamp in 2014, stayed for two years and then left to take a role at PayPal’s parent company, eBay. Why is now the right time to come back to crypto?

JB Graftieaux

JB Graftieaux

GRAFTIEAUX: I first joined Bitstamp in 2014. At that time we were probably, like, 15 employees. It was more like a startup company. The market has changed and the organization has changed quite significantly in the last seven years. So after joining Bitstamp the first time, my job was to get our payments license in Europe. I stayed there for two years. And then, I was offered a position with my previous employer, eBay, as general manager and managing director for Europe for payments. I’ve been in talks [with Bitstamp] since October last year and decided it was time for me to rejoin.

Now I’ve been here since the first of May. I really enjoy the company. I like the entrepreneurial spirit and the market has changed quite significantly, which was a nice for me to rejoin in more of a strategic position. I have two hats with my new roles and responsibilities. The first one is to manage our payment license in Europe and show, you know, we comply with the regulations and do what we have to do to maintain it. And then my second hat is to grow our revenues in the region, attract new customers, new partners and family offices.

How has the regulatory landscape changed in Europe since you were last with Bitstamp? Is it more complex? Are you seeing that the regs are a little clearer and easier to comply with?

GRAFTIEAUX: That’s a very good question because back in 2014, it was very much the regulatory framework there on crypto was very spongy, if I can say it like that. Nowadays, in Europe, if you compare the framework, you know, for cryptocurrency exchange with [traditional] payment institutions, the rigorous regulatory framework is very similar.

Now we are at a level where it's as stringent [for cryptocurrency exchanges] as for a bank or insurance company. And you know the regulatory landscape is evolving with the times. It's a part of our compliance practice to identify our requirements and upcoming requirements for the European Commission. It’s how we protect our business and share the way we are operating in our space, which is sometimes very different from America.

You said your other focus with this role is to grow the user base and revenues in Europe. There’s a lot more competition in this space than there would have been in 2014. What’s your approach?

GRAFTIEAUX: There are now a number of interesting initiatives that we’re coming out with in our markets. In the European market, the countries are very different from the U.S. So, we need to work very closely with regional or country partners in our business. So our intention is to do that.

We also have a referral program that helps us to grow our customer base. Since we have a very good reputation, our customers and existing partners will refer us to new clients, or new prospects and partnerships.

The last item is actually more specifically about gaming and sports. We are very trusted, but we are exploring ways to work with retail brands looking to potentially work with gaming and sports industry partners.

There’s been a lot of volatility in the market recently. Has that changed anything about what your projections are through the end of the year?

GRAFTIEAUX: What’s really important is to add new assets to the platform in order to diversify what’s available and transform our portfolio, which we know will attract new users and help retain existing traders or customers. That's really item number one and the other is to translate our platform for other markets, like France and Italy, so we can localize our site in those countries. Today we are all in English, so supporting other languages will help the site retention rates grow as our potential audience expands. So we think that will help us attract traders and customers regardless of what prices are doing.

And if you take a look at [asset management] family offices, for instance, regardless of the market, most are interested in holding some crypto. So I think there's a huge appetite, regardless of the volatility.

Welcome to The Ask, where each week Crypto Investor interviews essential voices doing the work to make crypto ‘mainstream.’ Exchange lightly edited.

This week, senior reporter Stacy Elliott spoke with JB Graftieaux, the newly appointed managing director, overseeing Bitstamp’s European market. Before rejoining Bitstamp — he was the company’s chief compliance officer from 2014 to 2016 — he was the chief compliance officer at PayPal.

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