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Sanja Kon, CEO at Utrust & CryptoFemale Interview

Güncelleme tarihi: 18 Kas 2022

As the CryptoWomen Turkey team, we always prioritize women and try to ensure gender equality. So, we are happy and proud that you are in a managerial position in this sector… So, 1) We looked at your resume and we admired you, can you tell us a little about yourself? We wanted to hear from you about the journey where you came from.

Throughout my life, I’ve lived in different countries, such as Bosnia, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, the US, the UK and Portugal. Being exposed to international cultures from a young age allowed me to develop an open minded approach towards life, as well as a curious mindset.

I’ve studied Business Administration in Bocconi University in Milan, and I then specialised in Marketing Management with the Copenhagen Business School Masters Degree. I juggled multiple internships while studying, to allow me to learn as much as possible about different verticals and industries.

I always had an interest in e-commerce and new technologies, and my Master’s thesis focused on the rise of two-sided ecommerce platforms. After graduating from my Master’s Degree, I joined the Vodafone Graduate program, a 2 year rotation program where I had the opportunity to work in multiple departments, from Customer Care, Support, Sales and Operations.

I worked for Vodafone for a period of 4 years, after which I joined eBay, where I had a great time managing multiple international roles, from seller innovation lead, to being responsible for the overall European Partner Program. With eBay, I had the opportunity to work in multiple locations over a 5 year period. After quite a long time in Digital and e-commerce, it was time for me to learn more about Digital Payments, and I accepted an offer to join the PayPal UK team, in the role of Head of Marketplaces. I became really interested in optimising international payments for merchants and retailers, and became more involved with Blockchain and Crypto topics.

I researched multiple companies providing Blockchain-based payment solutions, and Utrust earned my interest. I met with Nuno, the founder, and that’s how we started working together! I joined Utrust in 2018, as VP of Partnerships, and became CEO in January 2020. It’s been a very rewarding and fun journey! 2) As a woman, have you encountered any challenges in this area?

Yes, in some countries more than others. Especially in Italy, the mindset of diversity and inclusion is not very well developed yet, so I often had to deal with gender and cultural biases. Unfortunately, gender bias and inequality is still persistent in our culture, and we need to do the best we can to help overcome it, either by not accepting certain behaviors, or by setting an example for others.

3) Can you tell us a little bit about your company, Utrust, and your activities?

Utrust’s job is really quite simple: we want to allow people, whoever they are, wherever they are, to pay with digital currencies (crypto). For Utrust, crypto is money, not a financial asset. It’s the money of the future, and you should be able to pay for anything you need using it. Rent, groceries, a new car, and, indeed, your new home. We have our own token as well (it is called UTK), and we’ve been active since 2017, growing our company and our ecosystem of merchants. We are proud to say you can now buy things as different as plane tickets, perfumes, music records, cell phones or shoes.

4) How these Next Generation Payment Systems can be used in Real Estate Sector? What do you predict about this issue in the future?

Some of Utrust’s features are ideal for real estate. First of all, we charge a 1% flat fee. That’s significantly less than any other payment platform, including bank wire transfer fees. Secondly, we don’t charge cross-border fees, which is a major issue in real estate, which deals with plenty of customers from outside the country. Thirdly, and this is perhaps the most interesting one, by accepting crypto payments with Utrust, real estate agents can choose to get paid in EUR or USD without any conversion fees whatsoever. 5) Could cryptocurrency become a payment instrument in the future? What do you think about this? It’s a payment instrument now! That’s exactly what we do at Utrust. We are fully convinced it is the money of the future, and it will become adopted by mainstream society at large, but it’s already possible and being done now by millions of people around the world.

6) What do you think about payment systems and the crypto-currency market in Turkey?

Turkey is a huge market for digital currencies. It’s already the 14th largest in the world, representing over 2% of global trade. Utrust already has several merchants in Turkey, and our experience with the market has been fantastic. We love the passion for these currencies over there, and we have every intention of growing with you guys.

7) We see that you are working with the payment systems in Turkey, especially in the real estate market Could you give us some details about this subject? Will your activities increase in this sense in the future?

We are indeed. We have been working with Antalya Homes for a while now, and we have built a close and trusting relationship with them and CEO Bayram Tecke. In fact, he recorded a testimonial for us recently, which I feel is the perfect answer to this question:

“There’s a big advantage to Utrust. It helps merchants convert digital currencies to fiat currencies. To us, this is very important. We need to trust the companies we’re working with when we’re handling hundreds of thousands of dollars or euros at a time. We have processed over ten million dollars with Utrust in a very short time and it went very smoothly.” 8) While you started to work in Turkey, are you planning to establish a company here, too? My foreseeable future is with Utrust. But Utrust is borderless. Our headquarters are in Braga, Portugal, but we see ourselves as a global company. We have merchants and partners everywhere around the world, and Turkey is no exception. We are also remote-friendly regarding our own team, so we don’t need to open an office in Turkey to have Turkish-based team members. Maybe it will happen! 9) In addition, we would like to hear what you want to say to women in this industry and women interested in this industry?

This is a great industry for anyone to join, if you’re interested in technology, disruption and innovation, this is a great place to be! Don’t be afraid to change your career if you want to, no matter the age or the background you have. Confidence, the will to learn continuously, and passion will be the key to your success!

Finally, would you consider organizing events in our country if the pandemic period is over? :)

The pandemic will be over. Sooner rather than later, I hope. And yes, it would be a great pleasure to host an event in Turkey if the perfect opportunity arises.

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