Q&A with Nick Thomson, CEO of Viva Network
This time our attention went towards Nick Thomson, who is the CEO of Viva Network. Nick has a very interesting career path from the finance industry into blockchain. The young entrepreneur has achieved a lot and now he is taking his business to the next level with Viva Network, focusing on revolution of mortgage financing.
1. Nick, you have a very interesting career development for yourself. From KPMG to owning many successful businesses. Could you tell what first triggered you to start your own business? And what advice do you have for young and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to do the same?
After college, like most millennials, I had no savings and little relevant experience. I figured it would be extremely difficult to acquire the resources and investors' trust to launch execute my business ideas. Deciding to pursue the CPA designation and gain experience at KPMG was the perfect catapult to learn the skills and acquire the trust & reputation needed to successfully launch my first business.
I loved working at KPMG – there I was able to learn from the best of the best in technical accounting and financial expertise. Many aspiring entrepreneurs attempt to venture directly into their own business, without learning the intricacies and technical skills that are naturally abundant in large established corporations.
I would recommend young and aspiring entrepreneurs to begin with the end in mind. Decide where you want to be in 10 years and work backward from there, planning out every step of the way. Most importantly, once you have that plan, don't be afraid to go for it – take the actions your plan requires, regardless of what anyone thinks about them – jump in head first, learn as you go, and don't look back.
2. As you are a multi-talented professional, you have made a very interesting career jump from finance to real estate and technology. You also have been collecting Bitcoins since 2011 and now you are running your own real estate development company and blockchain mortgage financing business. What did you see in Bitcoin back then in 2011?
I'm an avid believer in the free market – any government, industry, corporation or individual that is unreasonably profitable due to high barriers to entry, particularly when those barriers are evoked by government regulations, is a prime example of an inefficient market. It's only a matter of time until technology will disrupt and "level out' these inefficient markets. Whether its artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or blockchain - given enough time, the free market will always win.
Where there is inefficiency, there is opportunity. Bitcoin has always fascinated me because it's the first time we've seen a technology that inherently provides transparent and unilateral trust. Many (and maybe even most) financial corporations' main value proposition is providing this trust in some way or another, therefore I've always thought that the long-term implications of bitcoin & blockchain technology will fundamentally and drastically change the way we do business.
Opportunity is a funny thing. A true opportunity never looks like a great decision to others, in fact, from the outside in - it usually looks like a completely outrageous decision (e.g. Bitcoin in 2011). Therefore, to truly seize any opportunity requires high level of self-confidence and conviction. Despite the doubts and judgements of others, trust yourself and pursue your vision tenaciously – maybe even with a healthy amount of arrogance. Bitcoin and blockchain technology are perfect examples of this type of an opportunity, but it applies to all things really. So, if true opportunity requires others to view it as completely outrageous… the question then becomes: What do people think is completely outrageous right now? What do you they doubt that you believe in?
Asking these questions to myself and my team was one of the prime motivators to launch Viva Network. We've developed a system that enables individuals to finance their homes using blockchain technology. Mortgage seekers will be able to acquire home financing from the global free market, using blockchain technology to tear down the long-standing barriers in the mortgage lending space. By eliminating these unreasonably profitable "middle-men" – we're able to provide more efficient financing, meaning lower mortgage rates for borrowers, and higher returns on investments for investors.
3. Let's talk about your company, Viva Network. As we understand it, it is a P2P mortgage crowdlending platform that uses blockchain to connect mortgage seekers directly with investors. Could you share the top features and benefits that makes Viva Network compatible in the market?
The current mortgage financing system is inherently flawed and inefficient. Governments around the world have continuously tried to improve it, but the fact is, government interventions are rarely successful long-term and sustainable solutions for anything really.
To take a step back, the actual fundamentals of a mortgage note are some of the best (if not the best) risk/return profiles of any marketable investment. Fixed income, often 100% collateralized, and extremely high yields. These fundamentals are what have fueled banks to become some of the most powerful organizations in the world for hundreds of years.
The problem is, everyday investors simply do not have access to these mortgage notes without the intervention of a multitude of middlemen like brokers, banks, government agencies, investment banks, insurance companies, portfolio managers, etc. – all of who strip these investments of their attractiveness. Therefore, we currently have a mortgage system that monopolistically requires large corporations and government organizations to function. This is a big red flag – homeownership is one of the most important factors that enable financial independence, and we've effectively designed a system that allows large financial corporations and government agencies to dictate whether we are able to have this luxury. Viva Network is a system that, for the first time, has solved the underlying problems that have made mortgage notes exclusively available to large financial institutions. Our system uses individual lenders from around the world to originate loans and allows the free market to decide the rate of interest, as opposed to governments and banking corporations.
Using blockchain technology, Viva's mortgage financing system takes the MBS (Mortgage Backed Securities) model and applies it to individual, private mortgages. Our novel financial system is able to securitize individual mortgage notes, fractionalize them into thousands of immutable smart contract based "shares', and sell those shares to various fixed income investors around the world who would like to include these investments in their portfolios. By using blockchain's smart contract protocol, Viva Network hard codes the details of the underlying mortgage on the Ethereum blockchain and allows investors to crowdfund the loan. This new and improved system is able to provide investors with higher returns, collateralized fixed income, liquidity, safety and assurance in the scenario of a default, and can even operate irrespective of national borders in many cases.
We believe that Viva's Fractional Mortgage Shares financing system provides a better, more efficient and more transparent method of financing, and has the ability to completely disrupt the outdated current mortgage financing system on a global scale.
4. You are currently raising round 1 crowdfunding capital for Viva Network through an ICO. How do investors benefit from purchasing the VIVA token during the ICO?
The Token Generation Event ("TGE") is currently live, we are issuing VIVA (an ERC20 based cryptocurrency) in recognition of contributions to the company. VIVA is the only cryptocurrency that will be able to be used on the Viva Network - for all Fractional Mortgage transactions and as an in-app incentive system for the other state-of-the-art software systems available on our platform.
After the TGE has concluded, VIVA will be listed and available to buy and sell on multiple cryptocurrency exchanges. Due to Viva Network's mortgage financing system being able to provide investors with higher yields, relative to their unit of risk, we expect large, yield seeking institutional investors to "chase the yield" and include these Fractional Mortgage investments in their portfolios. As this happens, we expect demand for VIVA to increase, and for interest rate parity to present positive economic conditions for early VIVA adopters.
To get VIVA, simply visit www.vivanetwork.org and follow the steps provided to make a contribution and instantly receive VIVA into your Ethereum wallet.
5. When can we expect Viva Network go live in beta version? Early investors must be thrilled! What are your next steps before going live?
Viva Network's proprietary home appraisal app is already live and operational in our test market, Bermuda. We are providing it as a complimentary service until the conclusion of the Token Generation Event, at that time, users will be required to pay for appraisals with VIVA tokens.
We expect the first mortgage to be successfully financed using Viva's Fractionalized Mortgage Shares before the end of Q2 of 2019. Until then, we will continue to develop and refine the system in preparation for wide-scale adoption; gain valuable partnerships; and develop the company in line with our road map that can be viewed on www.vivanetwork.org.