#Team13 May

Inside Look: What Is It Like to Be a Lawyer in a Crypto Startup

Mercuryo continues its series of posts dedicated to our team and the key members’ worldview. Mercuryo Legal Counsel Alexandra Ivanova talks about her role in the team and provides some insights on what is it like to be a lawyer in a fintech startup.

Mercuryo continues its series of posts dedicated to our team and the key members’ worldview. If you read our previous posts dedicated to Tigran Hakhunts from the Customer Support Department or where Arthur Firstov and Dmitry Pustovalov talk about their experience in the Sales Department, you might have noticed how despite the difference between teams’ activities, Mercuryo’s fast-growing diverse team shares the same vision and values. Mercuryo Legal Counsel Alexandra Ivanova talks about her role in the team and provides some insights on what is it like to be a lawyer in a fintech startup.

Where did you work before Mercuryo?

For over 8 years, I have been working in the sphere of legal consulting as a lawyer, representing my clients’ interests in courts mainly on economic matters, while also providing legal support to international projects. My responsibilities included the organization and implementation of compliance procedures. I’ve always been interested in information technologies. It’s no coincidence that my graduation work was research on the legal regulation of electronic commerce.

If your previous job sphere was different from that of Mercuryo, which differences are most striking in your opinion?

The main dissimilarity is the fact that today there is no unified approach towards the regulation of cryptocurrency, and even more, in some states, cryptocurrency is not regulated at all. Thus, we can conclude that we are at the beginning of the path to the global perception of virtual currency and its regulation, and this, of course, is very interesting.  

Despite the fact we’re at the beginning of this path, many states are actively working on the issue of cryptocurrency regulation and auxiliary issues. For example, in January 2019, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has started joint consultations with businesses connected to crypto assets. As a result of this work, the FCA has issued a guide on crypto assets regulation in the United Kingdom.

I find this approach very progressive and fulfilling the interests of both businesses wishing to develop in the sphere of innovations and the state intending to combat money laundering and protect citizens from various types of fraud schemes connected with cryptocurrency.

Is it hard to work with regulators? In your personal experience, what were their views on cryptocurrency?

Everything depends on the jurisdiction. For example, in Estonia, where one of our operating companies is registered, the regulator policy towards license holders has vastly changed through the year. At the beginning of the year, amendments to their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act came into force and before July 2020, all companies according to this act had to align their activity in full compliance with new requirements. I believe that the main task for states in this regard would be to ensure the balance between high standards of AML laws and the liberal treatment of developing technologies, including virtual currencies. From my point of view, these changes are positive. High AML standards mean higher credibility of the jurisdiction.

Which things unobvious for a casual observer could you point out in your work?

I work in IT, it’s as simple as that. We have one of the most progressive fields, a cool team and a high volume of interesting tasks. You might assume that in the young cryptocurrency sphere, our cooperation with crypto exchanges and wallets is built entirely on trust and verbal agreements. As a matter of fact, every new partnership of Mercuryo with an exchange or a wallet service is backed by a contract the details of which lie within my responsibility. To ensure the safety of funds of the customers of both parties, we are undergoing their AML procedures while they undergo our review. In comparison to the ICO era, this is a big leap forward. This process is streamlined, and we already have an impressive list of businesses using Mercuryo payment gateway. 

You should not underestimate the importance of a well-planned paperwork flow. Throughout the last year, we’ve been struggling with the increased amount of new clients and built an AML framework to optimize the onboarding process for our B2B clients. Now we can integrate with new clients much faster. 

Another side of my work one can miss is ensuring that the company operates with the clients’ data in full accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that we must follow as a European company.

OK, enough about work. What are your hobbies and interests?

I’m interested in psychology and right now, I’m taking a course on neurolinguistics. In summer, I enjoy wakeboarding with my friends! Can’t say I’m the best at this but the fresh air, a motorboat and water create such a memorable atmosphere you’d want to return to this every new season. Hopefully, this season won’t be disrupted by current restrictions and we go back to our summer activities as soon as possible.