UNLOCK met with Co-Founders of Havyn Ahmed Ismail and Christopher Flinos to talk about their UAE startup based in Abu Dhabi. According to Flinos, “We are establishing a cryptocurrency OTC (over the counter) trading platform for institutional investors, hedge funds family offices, and private investment banks. We will not only offer a trading platform but also a custodial platform for these assets and this is a first in the region.”
Havyn has been working with the regulator in ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) to qualify as a custodian over the past 12 months. Havyn will be one of the first institutional grade regulated trading platforms in the world.
The founders started the idea because they knew how difficult it was to trade crypto in an unregulated market, especially if you were an institutional investor. According to the founders, they know what institutional investors want because they were ones at some point in their careers.
For Flinos Havyn is different because it is not chasing the already converted crypto crowd but on the contrary is working to convert institutional funds. As he explained “Institutional funds have trillions of dollars to invest, if we get 1% of that it would be sufficient. In addition crypto is already a $120 billion asset class.”
Although Havyn is based in the UAE, it wants to cater to the entire global institutional investment market from the region. Ismail and Flinos are not fearful of the growing competition in this market as they believe that the market can handle it given it is a niche one. Both praise ADGM highly for their foresight and regulatory policies. According to Flinos, “ADGM has set regulations and policies that go beyond what Singapore has done. AbuDhabi is further ahead than all others including Malta and is considered one of the most advanced on the planet. ADGM updated Singapore regulations and added to it custody of assets.”
It will be easy for banks and institutional investors to use Havyn. Ismail explains, “All they have to do is connect to us through APIs, We are also ensuring utmost security by partnering with Ncipher the French defense firm subsidiary. This is the importance of working with a fully regulated cryptocurrency trading and custodial platform.” He adds, “Under the Dodd-Frank act, institutional investors with more than $150,000 of assets must have a “qualified custodian” secure the holdings.”
What sets Havyn apart from most is that is has secured significant digital currency liquidity to ensure there is always a market available to meet demand, their fees are low and transparent, they have both fiat and digital currency in escrow, and they have security and custody features as a regulated entity.
In addition Havyn offers research through its partnership with Imperial College. Flinos adds, “More than a quarter of private bank clients were interested in getting into digital assets. We have been hearing from our private banking colleagues that from internal research that 27% of the customer base is looking for access to digital currency,”
Havyn is looking forward to the launch of their platform after ADGM grants them full license. As Ismail states, “We think that we will launch sometime in June but this depends on ADGM.”
Havyn has already raised seed investment but will be going for a Round B series after it launches its operations to expand and grow the business.