B2B Partnerships Key to Crypto Relationships

If a business is running on spreadsheets, workarounds and manual processes, it’s going to be difficult to build and scale.

That’s why Justin McMahan, chief financial officer (CFO) at mobile crypto trading and lending platform Abra, aims to build a scalable digital foundation for the company’s business processes that brings the accountability wealth management customers demand into a notoriously fickle and opaque corner of the financial world.

One key to accomplishing this, he said, is selecting B2B vendors that share the same commitments. Abra looks for providers with well-established partnerships in order to simplify systems integration — freeing finance teams from wrangling unruly tech stacks so they can devote themselves to doing work that matters.

“We’re really focused on finding systems from the front end all the way to the back end that plug into each other,” McMahan told PYMNTS. “We’re trying to stay as unsiloed as possible when it comes to systems.”

Making Sure the Right Controls are in Place

That can be challenging, especially in the crypto space, because a lot of solutions — general ledger, subledger, trading systems, risk systems — that work great elsewhere aren’t exactly easy to adapt to the demands of a nascent industry.

Since Abra’s team includes professionals from traditional finance backgrounds as well as crypto natives, McMahan said members are adept at evaluating technologies and determining whether they’ll meet those demands. Other than that, the role of a CFO in the crypto space is like that of on in any other segments — making sure the right controls are in place and having the right technology to support them.

“One of the things that we’re focused on and that we pride ourselves on is that we want to bring a lot of the focus that the traditional space has on controls and policies and procedures and systematized controls as well to the crypto space,” McMahan said.

Becoming a Trusted Source

Early adopters who are comfortable with crypto still account for the bulk of the crypto market, so most of Abra’s clients have been looking for full-fledged services and products, rather than an introduction to crypto.

Over the last few months, however, the company has been seeing more of the traditional, institutional players deciding that they want to move into crypto.

“We love those conversations because we feel like it gives us an ability to be that trusted source, that education, the partnership aspect we love,” McMahan said.

Building a Robust System

Some larger institutions looking at crypto want to understand it on a very granular level, while others are interested in just experiencing the asset class and finding the right risk level.

“That’s kind of the fun part about crypto, if you’re coming from a traditional space, is you kind of get to bring those two sides together,” McMahan said. “We love being able to be a resource for folks.”

Abra operates as if it were regulated, as do most of its true peers. These firms know that if they want to be in it for the long term, they must be one of the ones that counterparties and customers trust.

“We’ve approached the way that we’re building this business in a way that is very traditional, in a sense,” McMahan said. “From a compliance perspective, from an operations perspective, we’re building what we think is a fairly robust system when it comes to that.”

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