Web3 CMO Stories

Web3 and Blockchain for Women, with Sanja Kon from Circle Europe | S4 E18

June 28, 2024 Joeri Billast & Sanja Kon Season 4
Web3 and Blockchain for Women, with Sanja Kon from Circle Europe | S4 E18
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Web3 CMO Stories
Web3 and Blockchain for Women, with Sanja Kon from Circle Europe | S4 E18
Jun 28, 2024 Season 4
Joeri Billast & Sanja Kon

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What if owning digital assets could safeguard your wealth and provide financial mobility, even amid war or economic turmoil?

This episode features an insightful conversation with Sanja Kon, Vice President of Circle Europe and former CEO of Utrust, as she recounts her journey from corporate roles at Vodafone, eBay, and PayPal to pioneering the Web3 and blockchain space.

Sanja shares the challenges and triumphs she faced while developing Utrust, a crypto-to-fiat payment platform, and discusses her transition to Circle, emphasizing the significance of user experience in the broader adoption of Web3 technologies.

We delve into the empowering themes of Sanja's new book, "Web3 and Blockchain for Women," which addresses crucial topics like money mindset and financial freedom.

Sanja passionately speaks about the transformative potential of Bitcoin and stablecoins in fostering financial inclusion for those affected by instability. She underscores the importance of women taking control of their financial futures and reframing their perceptions about money to achieve empowerment.

Tune in for an episode rich with insights, personal stories, and practical advice on embracing opportunities in the blockchain economy. Don't miss the chance to be inspired by Sanja's journey and learn how to navigate the evolving landscape of digital finance.

This episode was recorded through a Podcastle call on May 24, 2024. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/web3-and-blockchain-for-women-with-sanja-kon-from-circle-europe/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

What if owning digital assets could safeguard your wealth and provide financial mobility, even amid war or economic turmoil?

This episode features an insightful conversation with Sanja Kon, Vice President of Circle Europe and former CEO of Utrust, as she recounts her journey from corporate roles at Vodafone, eBay, and PayPal to pioneering the Web3 and blockchain space.

Sanja shares the challenges and triumphs she faced while developing Utrust, a crypto-to-fiat payment platform, and discusses her transition to Circle, emphasizing the significance of user experience in the broader adoption of Web3 technologies.

We delve into the empowering themes of Sanja's new book, "Web3 and Blockchain for Women," which addresses crucial topics like money mindset and financial freedom.

Sanja passionately speaks about the transformative potential of Bitcoin and stablecoins in fostering financial inclusion for those affected by instability. She underscores the importance of women taking control of their financial futures and reframing their perceptions about money to achieve empowerment.

Tune in for an episode rich with insights, personal stories, and practical advice on embracing opportunities in the blockchain economy. Don't miss the chance to be inspired by Sanja's journey and learn how to navigate the evolving landscape of digital finance.

This episode was recorded through a Podcastle call on May 24, 2024. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/web3-and-blockchain-for-women-with-sanja-kon-from-circle-europe/

Sanja:

Today, if you have a wallet, if you have an internet connection, you can own Bitcoin, you can own stablecoins, you can be free, you can move to another country and you can still own your money and no one can take that away from you, and that's awesome.

Joeri:

Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast. My name is Joeri B illast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm so excited to be joined again by Sanja. Hello Sanja, how are you?

Sanja:

Hey, I'm great. Thanks for having me again after a few years from the first time. I'm very excited.

Joeri:

Yes, S anja, if you remember, first time we spoke was at Web Summit in 2021. Then I even had my podcast yet, so it was for my blog that we met again in 2022, but then we recorded the podcast after Web Summit, and now you're back again, and now probably my audience is now thinking who is Sanja. Guys, S sanja Kon is the vice president of Circle Europe and she's a former CEO of U uTrust X Money. So, S anja, welcome, it's an honor to have you. As I said, could share a bit about you journey a journeynd how you first got involve with Web3 and blockchain technology and of course what inspired you to write Web3 and Blockchain for Women, your new book?

Sanja:

Yeah for sure. So we've known each other for a while. I've been in this space in Web3 since 2017. So it's been a long time in crypto, but my career before that was a very corporate career. I worked at Vodafone, ebay, paypal, always in European markets, covering mostly partnerships, business dev roles, and basically how it started is I was investing already in Bitcoin very speculatively in 2016. And I heard about using blockchain to optimize payments, but never did anything about it until I got a job at PayPal in the UK and my team was responsible for selling basically the payment marketplace solution. So it was the first time that I was dealing with a payment platform, and what struck me the most was that at the end of each month, we were not able to say to our clients how much they would pay in fees, because they were doing a lot of cross border was not transparent. And then I had the idea like, ok, let's look into how we can apply blockchain here. So I started studying. I started like seeing companies developing on blockchain for payments in Europe. At the time, it was very early in the stage. So, long story short, it was early for PayPal as well, especially in Europe, and therefore I decided in 2018 to join, who became my co-founder at the time in building U uTrust. And UTrust was, and still is, a crypto to fiat payment platform, and we grew it consistently during the years. It was very difficult at the beginning to sell crypto payments to merchants, but with time it became a very reputable platform and we exited the business to a layer two blockchain around two years ago and I stayed as CEO for a couple of years and finally I joined Circle in October last year.

Sanja:

So, in all of this because you asked me about the book I have a lot of conversations with women. There are not many women in this space at all and I was always asking myself why. Because there are so many bright women, intelligent women. This space could benefit with more women joining, and it struck me to see that, in general women they need to learn more. They're more scared about new things, innovation and technology. They think it's something that they cannot get, it's something that's not transparent, and that's why I decided to write the book, which is not only about blockchain. It's really more about money mindset, financial freedom, ownership and really empowering yourself to own your investments, your finances. So that's what started it and I finally published it around a month ago. So, yeah, very excited about that congratulations.

Joeri:

I know it's your first book, right? I know how it was written by first book. Then it comes out and your careers, and in the meantime, I've written a few other books too, so that's really exciting to do that. You have a clear mission with women. You mentioned already mindset financial freedom. It's around blockchain technology. So why these teams? Why are these teams so important for women?

Sanja:

I think money mindset as a first concept. We tend to grow up by bringing a lot of experiences that happened to us as a child and, although our parents or our caregivers they come with the best intentions, in most cases they said words or did things that remain very impressed in our head, like, for example, money doesn't grow on trees or it's very difficult to get money or you have to work very hard to earn any money. And in my case, I grew up with I was born in Sarajevo there was a war in ex-Yugoslavia like we lost everything in terms of savings and money and that was scary and I grew up with this fear that whatever I was earning like it didn't matter because eventually I would lose it, and I felt out of control. And that really brought me to research and study and get coaching and get mentors to learn how to manage my finances, how to start investing.

Sanja:

But I think, even if you didn't have a trauma like war, many of us we grew up with convictions that come from our family and that's why mindset is important, because you need to reframe what you think about money and, for example, many women I know they grew up thinking that if I have a lot of money.

Sanja:

I'm a bad person because rich people they do bad things and in your subconscious, if you associate that to money, you will never feel at ease if you start having a lot of money, earning a lot of money, investing a lot of money. So that's the first thing that you really need to fix and to work on to be more open for abundance to come into your life and really financial freedom. As a second concept. It's really about taking ownership of your own life, because many women, even financially literate women, smart women they outsource their finances to their husbands or partners or third parties and, let's be honest, like looking at the amount of divorces and everything that's happening. You're not empowering yourself and therefore this is really helping women to say, hey, take things into your hands, learn how to be open for more abundance in your life, work on your trauma as well as learn how to invest so that you can enable yourself.

Joeri:

That's a beautiful mission for the book. Now investing. I also had an investment club a long time and it's important to understand that Lots of people have their opinion, of course, about. There's a lot of speculation in the market too, if you think about crypto. But yeah, in your book you discuss practical investment strategies. Can you share some of these strategies or some tips for our listeners who are new to the Web3 space to invest in Web3 space? I would say.

Sanja:

Yeah, for sure. I think some of the things that are applicable to investing in general, they apply to Web3 as well. And then there are some particular things that will apply to Web3. I think the first one that it's really across anything you do, like wherever you invest your money, educate yourself before investing and putting money, take time to understand the basics of that investment and, especially for blockchain, do a bit of research, because it's fun. Understand cryptocurrencies,NFT s, D defi. There are many things where you can invest your money and therefore take the time to really educate yourself. There are so many free resources. I think Web3 is amazing because of that. You can find many influencers, many great people talking about investments, talking about their companies, and therefore there's a lot of free knowledge available. So that's great. The second thing is to start small, so begin with a very small, modest investment to familiarize yourself with the market dynamics, to really understand how it works, and that will also minimize your risk. The third one that I would say and this is really for everything you do is diversify. So, as I'm very invested in Web3 and crypto, I don't have all of my money in Web3 and crypto. I will have investments in real estate. I will have investments in Web2 startups. I don't have a lot in stocks, for example, or bonds, because that's not something that strikes my interest, but I do diversify a lot within. I don't put all of my eggs in one basket.

Sanja:

And then, particularly for Web3, I think we're still not in that stage where it's very easy or user-friendly, right, so it's not for everyone. So you need to put a bit of time to understand it and to really secure your money. So don't leave your money on exchanges. Don't leave your money on platforms like secure it in a ledger with a seed phrase. Understand what that means, because I think it really sounds complicated, but when you do it once, it's not at all. So take the time to do it. And also, I would say, start small. Start with something like Bitcoin and leave it there for a while. Don't look at it every day, every week. Leave it there. It's a long-term investment. Don't panic. So that's what I would say to start with.

Joeri:

Yeah, I love this advice. Like lots of people, they just buy something If it's stocks or crypto and they are already looking the next day what is happening and they are already stressed when it goes down or goes up, they want to take action, Whereas it's better to leave it on the side. Diversify is really or goes up, they want to take action, whereas it's better to leave it on the side. I diversify. It's really important Also understanding, of course, what you are doing, like you mentioned, if it's Web3 or not Web3, understanding what you're investing in and Bitcoin. That's obviously the good start. Start small. One of my previous guests on the show was talking about what is fundamental principles in the crypto market about, like Warren Buffett for Web3. I will share also this link in the show notes, together with your book. Of course, people are interested in that. You mentioned already a pitfall. Are there other pitfalls that we should be aware of entering the Web3 space and wanting to invest?

Sanja:

Oh, definitely. I think I've seen it all now in Web3. I think it's very easy to have to create FOMO, the fear of missing out in Web3, because there are. It's still. It's getting better, but it's still an unregulated space in many ways and therefore you will have influencers shilling tokens and fortunately it's not like two, three, four years ago. It's getting much better, but still you will have these things and I think don't fall for it. Unless you really take the time to understand it and you really believe in the project yourself, then great. That's because, like you researched who the CEO is, who the team is, you really believe in the project. Fine.

Sanja:

But just because someone on YouTube is talking about it or just because a celebrity is talking about it, it doesn't mean that it's something you should put your money in. So really be aware of scams as well. If someone is sending you an email saying that you should be donating to this cause, to this address, probably it's a scam, right, and this is something that I'm actually a bit scared about. So I'm part of this mastermind. It's an annual program with Peter Diamandis and we usually look into what is coming in the future, and already today it's possible to receive a call from someone that will have the same voice as your mother saying that she needs money, and I think it's going to be a very scary place in the future. So that's why I'm saying if something looks fishy, probably it is. There are a lot of people on Twitter pretending to be someone else, so just be aware of that and trust your instinct as well.

Joeri:

Yeah, that's a good advice. And always be careful. And just when I receive something, a message, I'm always saying why do I need to click? Why do I need to click? And if there is some kind of urgency involved, then you should be careful. And I've already been approached by to my podcast, to Twitter, to LinkedIn. People are just rebuilding websites using domain names that look alike, using stealing identities from people. So I don't want to scare you, but people should just be careful and have common sense. And if you invest, yeah, understand the project and see that you have the official sites where to go to. And if people are shitting to you that you don't know, yeah, be very careful. Yes, you're a strong advocate for financial inclusion, S sanja, and how do you see Web3 technologies specifically contributing to this goal? And maybe, if there are things that you see that needs to be done to achieve more financial inclusion globally, yeah, feel free to share. And maybe, if there are things that you see that needs to be done to achieve more financial inclusion globally, yeah, feel free to share.

Sanja:

Yeah, so financial inclusion is the reason why I'm in this space. So, as I said, when I was a child, unfortunately, I had that experience of having to leave my country because of the war, losing properties, losing money, and although I was six years old, I remember everything like it. It stayed as an imprinting in my body, in my mind, and when I read the white paper for Bitcoin, I immediately thought imagine if my family and my friends had it at the time. So what I want to say is today, if you have a wallet, if you have an internet connection, you can own Bitcoin, you can own stable coins, you can be free, you can move to another country and you can still own your money and no one can take that away from you. And that's awesome and that's freedom, and that's why I really think that we have an opportunity here. This is the reason why I joined Circle, because stablecoins allow to have that freedom, and especially regulated stablecoins, so stablecoins that governments welcome as a form of money. Mika is coming in Europe, so Europe is going to be an amazing playground to bring regulation across many countries. But, yeah, for me, financial inclusion is really anyone who is unbanked or underbanked. They can now have a wallet, they can have digital assets, they can transact, they can buy things, they can save money and they can protect their wealth from their inflationary currency. So that's financial freedom for me, although I think we're still at the beginning.

Sanja:

You were asking what do we need to do? And this is something that at Circle, we are investing a lot in infrastructure, ux, ui because Not many people will go there and download an external wallet and understand the seed phrase and the long address and what is it? So what we need to do is we need to embed Web3 into the experiences that customers are having every day. That's why we are out there partnering with the largest payment platforms and networks so they can integrate a Web3 wallet into their services and they can sponsor gas fees on behalf of their users. So, in the future, the user will not need even to know that there is blockchain behind it. And that's what we need to solve the experience and the UX UI and the difficulty of still using blockchain today absolutely and yeah, I love the surplus mission.

Joeri:

I also have or had your colleague, M ercina, VP of impact on the podcast. Really, I really I would say I really believe in everything that you're doing and also the stable coin and all around that like you really explain that now. Your book is aimed at empowering women in the blockchain economy. Is there a specific advice that you would give for women, yeah, to make their mark in the industry?

Sanja:

yeah, it's funny because my book is intended for women. However, it's not only for women and I had so many men writing me that they bought it. They want to understand more as well. So, although I intended it primarily for women, it's a book that really anyone can read, because the principle can be applicable to anyone. Principle can be applicable to anyone.

Sanja:

However, I think the majority of women they have this thing that and I have it a bit as well they need to know everything before they apply for the job, before they speak, before they invest. So my advice is really you cannot. The more you grow and the more you discover, the more you will find that you will need to navigate in uncertainty. You cannot know everything. Go for it. Apply for that job, even if it's Web3 and you don't know much about it. Maybe it's your opportunity now to join a company, Maybe it's your opportunity to invest in a company. Don't wait to be in a place where you need to know 100% of the things, because once you get there, it will be too late, and that's really the main advice. It's really go for it. Lean in, as someone would say, because generally men are better in doing that. They're better in asking for opportunities, joining, joining things even if they don't feel comfortable.

Joeri:

Yeah, that's a really motivating message for people, for women, but also for men, because, as you say, it's for everyone that is reading the book. Stretch yourself, go for your goals, go for dreams, make changes, like you did already with everything that you've already mentioned about your life and how it changed and how you did take action, and now with the book, which is really making a print statement for the industry. So, if my listeners now Sanja, if they are curious about the book and they want to read it, yeah, where can they find it?

Sanja:

Yeah, I think we will put some links right at the bottom of the podcast. The best place to buy it is on Amazon, so either in a form of an e-book or a physical copy. So you can just go on your local Amazon and either find me through my name or the title of the book, which we will link, and I'm always happy to connect with people on LinkedIn or Twitter, exchange ideas. I always try to reply to anyone that writes me. It would be a pleasure If you do buy the book and read it. Would love to know what you think and your feedback. So, yeah, looking forward great.

Joeri:

So, guys, don't hesitate, as there are always show notes linked to this podcast episode. So S anja's book links and also social media addresses will be in there. So, yes, don't hesitate to check it out. I have the book already, of course. Yeah, that's of course to prepare this podcast episode, but it's always good to hear an author talking in person and really feel the enthusiasm and the passion about the book. So this really motivates me to dive even more deeper into that. We are already connected, but, guys, if you're not yet connected, check it out. The links are in the show notes. As I said, S anja, it was really a pleasure to have you likewise thank you for having me again so if you like the podcast episode I'm sure you do people around you women, or maybe men that are that can have benefit from this book. Don't hesitate and share the podcast episode with them. If you're not yet subscribed, this is a really good moment to do this, and if you have not yet reviewed my show, I would love for you to give me what you think about it. I hope five stars, because it helps me to reach even more people and, of course, I would like to see you back next time. Take care.

Could you share your journey into Web3 and blockchain, and what inspired you to write 'Web3 and Blockchain for Women'?
You have a clear mission to empower women through mindset and financial freedom, particularly with blockchain technology. Why are these themes so important for women?
In your book, you discuss practical investment strategies. Can you share some of these strategies or tips for our listeners who are new to investing in the Web3 space?
Are there any pitfalls we should be aware of when entering the Web3 space and wanting to invest?
How do you see Web3 technologies contributing to financial inclusion, and what more needs to be done to achieve it globally?
Your book aims to empower women in the blockchain economy. What specific advice would you give to women wanting to make their mark in the industry?
If my listeners are curious about your book and want to read it, where can they find it?