Episode 60

Christophe Lassuyt & Christophe Fonteneau on an Enterprise Accounting Software for Crypto & Fiat

Christophe Lassuyt & Christophe Fonteneau on an Enterprise Accounting Software for Crypto & Fiat

A finance technology stack is the set of tools that a business uses to streamline and optimize its financial and accounting processes.

These tools and softwares typically fall into categories like payments, payroll, spend & expense management, accounting & reporting, financial planning and analysis. 

Until now, web3 teams have had a fragmented finance stack, thereby increasing the manual workload of running their finance and accounting processes.

Request Finance the web3 industry leader for invoicing, payroll & expenses, with a payment processing volume of more than $700m under its belt understood & capitalized on the pain points most web3 CFOs & accountants face. 

Recently Request Finance acquired Consola Finance, a crypto sub ledger to offer an all-in-one finance stack for both crypto payments & accounting. 

With more businesses adopting stablecoins as a means of payment, I spoke with Christophe Lassuyt, the CEO of Request Finance, and Christophe Fonteneau, their Head of Partnerships & Strategy.

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Christophe L & Christophe F
Christophe Lassuyut & Christophe Fonteneau
Christophe Lassuyut & Christophe Fonteneau

[00:00:00] Umar: Welcome to the Accountant Quits brought to you by the Web3 CFO Club, a community by Request Finance. With a curated community of Web3 CFOs from companies like Aave, The Sandbox, Binance, Consensys, Ledger, and many more, joining this club will allow you to network and learn best practices on web3 financial operations.

[00:00:24] Umar: On The Accountant Quits podcast, we discuss how blockchain will impact the accounting profession and how accountants should prepare themselves for the future of work. My name is Umar, your host, and even if some might refer to me as the accountant gone rogue, my job is to provide you with the blockchain knowledge that you need that will be relevant for the accounting industry as a whole.

[00:00:48] Umar: Welcome to Episode 60. A finance technology stack is the set of tools that a business uses to streamline and optimize its financial and accounting processes. These tools and softwares typically fall into categories like payments, payroll, spend and expense management, accounting and reporting, financial planning, and analysis.

[00:01:10] Umar: Until now, web3 teams have had a fragmented finance stack, thereby increasing the manual workload of running their finance and accounting processes. Request Finance, the web3 industry leader for invoicing, payroll, and expenses, with a payment processing volume of more than $700million under its belt, understood and capitalized on the pain points most web3 CFOs and accountants face.

[00:01:37] Umar: Recently, Request Finance acquired Consola Finance, a crypto subledger, to offer an all in one finance stack for both crypto payments and accounting. With more businesses adopting stablecoins as a means of payment, today I have the pleasure to have a returning guest, Christophe Lassuyt, the CEO of Request Finance and Christophe Fonteneau, their Head of Partnerships and Strategy.

[00:02:02] Umar: In this episode, you will learn how stablecoins are driving crypto adoption for web2 and web3 businesses, how to use your treasury in crypto to make fiat payments without off ramping, why Request Finance decided to acquire a crypto sub ledger and its positioning against other industry leaders, the story behind the Web3CFO club with its 700 plus members, and much more.

[00:02:29] Umar: Now, to make it easier for our listeners today, Christophe, the CEO, will be Chris, and Christophe, the Head of Partnerships, will be TOF. So, Chris and TOF, welcome to you both, and thanks for making the time to be here. 

[00:02:43] Chris: Thanks a lot. Thank you for the invitation. Thanks. It's a pleasure. 

[00:02:47] Umar: So Chris, I'm going to start with you and speak a bit about the growth of Request Finance.

[00:02:52] Umar: Like I said in the intro, Chris is a returning guest and he was here the first time back in January 2022 on Episode 23. To give the listeners some context about the growth of Request Finance, you launched your MVP back in August 2020. And you obtained your first client in December 2020. By February of 2021, you had processed a million in payments.

[00:03:18] Umar: And when we recorded that episode in Jan 2022, you had already processed $175million in payments, quite a remarkable growth in one year. Now, as at March 2024, you have processed $700million worth of payments, and you've expanded your product offerings to now not just invoicing, but also payroll, expenses and crypto to fiat payments.

[00:03:42] Umar: What's even more remarkable with these figures is that it was during a bear market. Now, during that time, during the past two years, so Request Finance also closed a $5.5million seed round with investors like Animoca Brands, Balderton Capital, and XAnge, and introduced a new monthly subscription pricing model, which we're going to speak about in a short while.

[00:04:07] Umar: Now, looking back, what are some of the key learnings driving the institutional adoption of crypto from both web2 and web3 companies. And how are stablecoins helping with that? 

[00:04:19] Chris: Yeah, that's a very interesting topic. And we are, of course, we're happy about the growth. I need to remind you that our goal is to drive the crypto adoption of finance persons.

[00:04:33] Chris: So we really want them to understand crypto and feel good with crypto for their payments, different kinds of payments, whether they're getting paid. So invoicing, you talked about it, or whether they're making payments. And when they are making payments, it's bill payment, it's payroll, it's expenses for employees.

[00:04:52] Chris: And we basically have built Request Finance in this direction, like building an all in one finance platform for all of those needs. What is interesting also is the finance people who are dealing with web3 operations, they need to be reassured. So when you ask what is the secrets behind institutional adoption, actually one of the secrets is to understand them so well that we reassure them with crypto, and how do we understand them so well so we've got a background in finance.

[00:05:27] Chris: Personally, I've been a CFO for many years in many different countries. We've got many people in the team who have a background in finance, and I think that is important. Then if I go deeper in details about secrets, finance person is someone who cannot lose money, right? So basically he needs to have the safest product that is on the market.

[00:05:51] Chris: And that is what we are building. We're building a product that is ensuring crypto payments. That's the first that's very important for the, for the people. They also need to have a user experience that looks like the web2 tooling because they come from web2. Actually, most of the CFOs, their first job has been in traditional industries.

[00:06:10] Chris: And their promotion in web3 is about basically using crypto in addition to what they already know. And they want a proper tooling. That's one of the things that we are making sure we are building for them. And usually when they understand that we build an all in one finance platform like they are used to, but with a crypto differentiator, they feel good.

[00:06:33] Chris: And of course, last but not least, stablecoins. Stablecoins make sense because that is what you use for payments. You sometimes use volatile cryptos. When you have special bonuses or special transactions, but most of the time you pay your employees with stablecoins all over the world, you pay your providers with stablecoins and that's accepted all over the world.

[00:06:57] Umar: Perfect. And I think the volume, when we say $700million worth of payments, most of that is in stablecoins, right? 

[00:07:04] Chris: Yeah. Around 60%. Got it. 

[00:07:08] Umar: Now, Chris, not everyone listening today might have listened to our first episode together. So for a quick refresher, could you briefly explain what is Request Finance and perhaps explain the experience of making crypto payments without and with Request Finance?

[00:07:25] Chris: Yeah, so Request Finance is basically doing accounts payable, accounts receivable, accounting and payments to more than 150 countries. Very similar to what we are used to, the difference is that we are also crypto friendly. We power stablecoin payments. We come from web3 to do that. Today, if you don't have such product, you will need to make sometimes 100 payments one by one with an exchange like Kraken or Coinbase or with a decentralized wallet.

[00:08:00] Chris: And you would make mistakes by doing copy pasting by doing manual payments, you would struggle finding out what you've done after having done it. So you would struggle with payment reconciliation. That's something accountants need to do and don't really like doing. So when it is automated with proper tooling, that helps.

[00:08:22] Chris: And you would have options that are not as safe to make payments. With Required Finance, we offer something that is the perfect UX. I mean, we try to be as perfect as possible in terms of user experience and also with as much safety as possible. Personally, I've, I have trusted products that were not that safe in my experience for 10 years in crypto.

[00:08:47] Chris: And I know that for us to make crypto adoption happen, we need to protect CFOs. So that's what we are doing. 

[00:08:56] Umar: Completely agreed. Now TOF you're one of the dinosaurs at Request. You joined the company six years ago when Request Finance didn't even exist at the time. And there was nothing to sell. Having had the opportunity to work with TOF, TOF is what people would say a natural born salesman who would be able to sell ice to an Eskimo, oil to an Arab, or pork to a Rabbi.

[00:09:20] Umar: The legend has it that you also tried to sell Request to Satoshi. But, jokes aside TOF, you closed the first client at Request Finance, which was MakerDAO, back in December 2020. And since then, you also brought some big names like The Sandbox, The Graph, Aave, and Near Foundation. From hustling to find your first client back in 2020, to now $700million, and soon you'll be celebrating your first $1billion in payments, how has your sales approach evolved over the years, which is helping Request Finance to scale its product growth. 

[00:09:56] TOF: So back in 2018, the industry has evolved a lot. So back in 2018, like the industry was mostly like composed of degen punks who were dreaming of revolutionizing like the banking system with peer to peer payments.

[00:10:13] TOF: And at that time, people like did not really care about accounting, invoicing, and like, especially making the things the right way was not a concern only like efficiency and revolution did matter at that time. So it took a while to, to make people understand like the necessity to make the things right.

[00:10:37] TOF: So in 2020, like this discussion, like occurred with MakerDAO, our very first customer. When I met both Richard Brown, the head of community, who was like making disbursement to the MakerDAO community, grant, bounty, salaries. And Torben Jorgensen, the CFO of the foundation at that time, and they were arguing with each other's because one was like making payments all over.

[00:11:00] TOF: And the other one was like trying to book it Etherscan links. So it was like really complicated. And we came up with Request Finance as the invoicing solution, providing both of them, the audit trail for proper bookkeeping purpose and forecast purpose. So now on top of streamlining the payments for large organizations, as Chris described like a minute ago, what has changed since that time is people understood the necessity for doing the things right for like two reasons. 

[00:11:39] TOF: One reason is compliance and the second one is scalability. So when I say compliance is we all operate in an industry that is always associated to shady financial operations. And crypto suffers of that reputation. Now, if we provide the industry, a solution that enabled that industry to process all these payments while maintaining an accounting like any other traditional business in the world getting audited by any other business in the world, at the end of the day, the regulator doesn't see any objection accepting that new payment method, because at the end of the day, a stablecoin is nothing more than another currency, like a Canadian dollar or Singapore dollar.

[00:12:30] TOF: So if, as long as you maintain the accounting and you get audited. you operate in a compliant way for the regulator. So that's one of the things that changed. People realize this. 

[00:12:44] TOF: Then I talked about scalability. Request is often associated to scalability solution for like CFOs and the CEOs of companies, because when you run a company, it's always complicated to run a company without making any forecast. And it's quite impossible to make forecast if you do not maintain a proper accounting, having a view of all your P&L, for example. So that's one. And the second one is secretly, even like crypto native people, degen punks, and like all these like OGs of the industry, everyone secretly dreams of scaling their organization, and maybe one day getting listed to a stock market. The only thing is if you want your company to get listed in the stock market, you need to get audited. Like when you raise like IPO before you need to do like Series C, Series B and all even Series A and all these stage of financing require a financial data room in the due diligence.

[00:13:53] TOF: What do you put in a data room, if you don't put proper accounting evidence, proper audit trails, something to audit, right? And this way, I think that Request contributes to have a proper clean financial data room for whatever fundraising stage you are, if you're like an entrepreneur and it contributes somehow to make your fundraising a success.

[00:14:23] TOF: So just to conclude, Request is definitely, as Chris said, a solution that helps anyone streamline the B2B payments in the industry, of course. It's a solution that works for like the compliance aspect of things and the, acceptance of crypto as official payment method. And finally, it's also a solution that contributes to the scalability.

[00:14:48] TOF: And this is what evolved. People realized this over the last three, four years. And this is what like took us where we are today. 

[00:14:57] Umar: Perfect. Now, Chris, in September of 2023, you launched a new feature called crypto to fiat. This means that web3 teams can now make payments in crypto from using their wallet, and the recipient would receive fiat directly in their bank account, and therefore they don't have to deal with the hassle and fees of off ramping.

[00:15:19] Umar: Essentially now, a web3 company can be bankless. So I want to ask you, can you explain how can companies get onboarded to this service? Because I know that anyone can open a Request Finance account without any KYB, but with crypto to fiat, have you had to introduce KYB verifications? 

[00:15:39] Chris: This question for me or for TOF?

[00:15:41] Umar: It’s for you, Chris. 

[00:15:42] Chris: Okay. Okay. So basically we cover 170 countries and most currencies. So basically you could be almost anywhere in the world. With your business and make a payment to recipient who is himself or herself based anywhere in the world. And when you do that, you pay in crypto. They receive fiat.

[00:16:03] Chris: So they receive a USD, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupee, Singapore dollars and so on. This is awesome. What this means is that any USD, Euro, INR invoice that you receive, you can upload it to Request Finance to pay it, and, and also the Request Finance users, the ones issuing invoices, basically you also receive those invoices, you also can pay them.

[00:16:25] Chris: Whether that's for bills, payments, like I said, or whether that's for expenses to employees, direct payments, or payroll, or all these folks. And yes, you are right. There is one thing that you need to do to access all this and experience the magic. It is that you need to verify that you are a business because you are going to use those web2 rails where banks globally or payment systems need to know who is sending the money.

[00:16:57] Chris: So you do one verification, then you can pay hundreds of providers. That takes usually a few minutes, but it can take days for you to provide the documents. And then within hours, your account is validated. You can start making payments. 

[00:17:11] Umar: Perfect. I remember before Crypto to Fiat, you had actually released fiat to crypto, which is actually the opposite, and means the payer would pay in fiat and the issuer would receive crypto in their wallet.

[00:17:25] Umar: In terms of adoption, which feature has experienced more growth? 

[00:17:29] Chris: So, crypto to fiat is when, when the payer pays in crypto and the recipient receives in fiat. This works really well, especially because we aggregate different solutions and we are able to have competitive prices to make those payments.

[00:17:48] Chris: So we help with swapping the cryptocurrency, off ramping the fiat currency, and then making the payout internationally, sometimes with a swift, sometimes with a local payment rails. Fiat to crypto, however, is something that we have not prioritized, but it is on our roadmap. We've built a very first MVP even two years ago or something.

[00:18:12] Chris: And that was not the most impressive growth. So that's something that we will renew soon. 

[00:18:19] TOF: So just to add this, we built Fiat to Crypto like two years ago, as Chris was saying, because at that moment, the idea was like, one of our partners is Monerium in Europe, and we were discussing with Monerium about how do we facilitate cross border payment for the normal industry, like traditional industry, and the first step toward like facilitating cross border payment was like, we need to on ramp the money of traditional companies for this company to benefit of the web3 payment rail efficiency, and we were missing one last mile, which was the off ramping on the other side.

[00:19:04] TOF: Which is what we have today. So nowadays we can serve native crypto companies having crypto in their bank account or in their wallet processing crypto to fiat payments, which is the last mile we were needed. We needed at that time, but we can also like onboard traditional companies from web one or web zero, by the way.

[00:19:27] TOF: To help them do cross border payments, spending their euros and counterpart in Asia, receiving Singapore dollars a few hours after, that the direction we're taking now. 

[00:19:39] Umar: Got it. Now, moving on to the very exciting news, Chris, you recently announced the acquisition of Consola Finance, a crypto sub ledger, which the listeners will be familiar with since we had the Founder and CEO Jacob Kobler on Episode 40.

[00:19:54] Umar: Now, Request Finance before was a spend management tool for crypto invoicing, payroll, and expenses. And for the listeners, just think bill.com, Deel, and Expensify combined into one application doing crypto. Now, with this acquisition, Request Finance becomes an all in one crypto accounting solution for enterprises.

[00:20:16] Umar: If we look at some of the other players from web2, like let's take QuickBooks for example, they stopped partnering with Bill.com when they started doing invoicing and payment themselves. Some of the sub ledgers like Bitwave and Integral also launched crypto payments features. Can you walk us through why you decided to acquire a subledger at this point in time?

[00:20:41] Umar: And why in the end you chose Consola Finance? 

[00:20:45] Chris: Short answer, why do we do what we do? We do it because our clients want it. This is the short answer. And then yes, this is true that in very mature market where, for example, a QuickBooks operate, there has been separation between spend management product and accounting product.

[00:21:05] Chris: And that's recently merged when, for example, QuickBooks decided to do everything. This is true that CFOs all over the world, they want an all in one solution. And so QuickBooks has been listening to their clients. We have been listening to our clients. We are own clients, forever. It just makes sense. And then the question is, why Consola?

[00:21:30] Chris: So in the crypto space, we are all together. We all together, we are fighting for crypto adoption. If the crypto adoption really takes place, then we will all be very, very happy. And all the finance people will be very, very happy as well. And most of the crypto subledger, they are doing a good job.

[00:21:50] Chris: We had our clients ask us to do a better job, but especially we also had a lot of clients who did not want to onboard with a subledger that you mentioned. Consola, however, is a team that has been working efficiently, that is very focused on tech and data. And basically, they have been working for many years on making things perfectly accurate.

[00:22:20] Chris: And this is exactly what we need. What we need is not necessarily the best product at all levels. We need the product that is the most accurate, because that is what accountants, CPAs, finance people, CFOs need. So we are, we are building it and we're very happy with the progress with Consola, with what we are seeing right now.

[00:22:42] Chris: There's a lot of enthusiasm from, from our clients and from the ecosystem. And so we've got a good problem to solve for growth.

[00:22:50] Umar: Before we continue, we'll take a quick commercial break from our sponsor. Working in web3 can transform your career, be financially rewarding, and surround you with a vibrant community. But as you're very much aware, this space requires rethinking a lot of the old models of how we work. For example, as the leader in a web3 organization, it's up to you to figure out the most cost effective way to offer the company's crypto, or what's the most efficient setup to mass pay your contractors in crypto. 

[00:23:22] Umar: Getting your organization to run on crypto is daunting if you're alone. That's why Request Finance, the industry leader in crypto invoicing, payroll and expenses, has curated a community of web3 CFOs to share best practices around web3 financial operations. With CFOs from leading projects like Aave, The Sandbox, Binance, Consensys, and many more, joining this community will allow you to network and fast track getting your organization compliant in crypto.

[00:23:54] Umar: And you know what? I'm also responsible for accepting new members and growing the Web3CFO club. So if you're a web3 business founder, CEO, CFO, or in charge of financial operations, you can join this exclusive community today by filling up an application form at theaccountantquits.com/web3cfo.

[00:24:15] Umar: Subject to a screening check, you will then start interacting with high profile Web3 CFOs, get access to members only benefits like webinars, resources, and invitations to physical meetups. Join the club today and let's win web3 financial operations together. 

[00:24:34] Umar: So staying on the topic of accuracy, one of the contentious areas around subledgers is on completeness and accuracy of onchain transactions and every subledger would claim they're doing a superior job and rightfully so.

[00:24:48] Umar: One obvious reason to choose a subledger is blockchain coverage. Another one would be customer support when onboarding. Now, I want to ask you this question TOF, you speak with a lot of CFOs, controllers, accountants in web3. Let's say I'm a CFO using the EVM based chains and not really the exotic chains right now.

[00:25:10] Umar: What, in your experience, would make a web3 team stick with a crypto subledger in the long term? 

[00:25:15] TOF: So the idea is that all subledger provide the same value proposal and capability, which is labeling on chain transactions, providing a cost basis P&L for like every single transaction and ultimately connect these to the chart of account of your favorite accounting system.

[00:25:39] TOF: That's the fundamental of a subledger. Now, the key differentiating factors are the following, according to me. Of course, data accuracy, as Chris said, is differentiating, and I consider it as a must because, like, if your data set is not accurate, you cannot, like, pilot properly your, like plane. I would say, like, with wrong indicators.

[00:26:03] TOF: So that accuracy is a must and we choose Consola for that aspect as well. So that's really important. Now, in addition, for a customer to be loyal to a subledger, I see like three different things, flexibility, adaptability, and reactivity. 

[00:26:24] TOF: Flexibility is you need to be able to tweak the system or the platform and adapt it to your customer needs.

[00:26:35] TOF: And this requires to think as a startup and not as an enterprise solution, keeping the flexibility to satisfy their needs. That's really important. I meet a lot of CFOs every day and they all have different needs and we have to be like, really like flexible, gathering their needs. And in the approach we have developing the platform. The last one is the reactivity.

[00:27:02] TOF: I hear too often that CFOs are not listened, so they give their needs to their current provider and they talk to us , and they know our reputation at Request for the flexibility and adaptability. So, and how reactive we are when we develop custom features for them. 

[00:27:28] TOF: So really flexibility, adaptability and reactivity are like key differentiating factors on top of having proper. accurate dataset. 

[00:27:40] Umar: All right. Staying with you TOF. Request Finance also integrates with most of the crypto sub ledgers of the industry like Cryptio, Bitwave, Cryptoworth and TRES.

[00:27:51] Umar: And TOF, you've been leading these integrations and have an active working relationship with them. How does the acquisition of Consola Finance affect your working relationship with these sub ledgers? Because you're now essentially competitors. 

[00:28:05] TOF: Yeah, that's a really interesting question. It's all about positioning.

[00:28:11] TOF: Cryptio, Bitwave and TRES are like enterprise grade companies, and you have plenty of web3 organizations that cannot afford using such tools. So in the discussion we had with all of them, because like we've been talking to every single partner and now competitor somehow, is that first of all, the market is big enough for everyone to have like their own market share.

[00:28:39] TOF: Second of all, we still partner with them because each product has its own specificities and capabilities. So we still talk to each other and like send each other some leads from time to time because sometimes Cryptio cannot integrate that specific customer and Consola does, for example, or Tres Finance can, a client of Cryptio is not satisfied anymore and is looking for an alternative.

[00:29:09] TOF: So we openly talk about it. And, and share the leads because at the end of the day, it's a really small ecosystem. Everyone knows everyone. So it doesn't like really alter our relationships. It's pretty well welcomed somehow. So, because like we're not like also playing their game as well. So it's pretty welcomed.

[00:29:32] TOF: Yeah. And the second thing I wanted to add is All of them, Cryptio, Bitwave, Cryptoworth, TRES, Octav, and so on. They all have a Request integration. So at the end of the day, the customer chooses the UI he or she wants for the accounting aspect according to their operations. But this doesn't prevent to use Request for their spend management.

[00:30:00] TOF: So Consola is one option, but like we're absolutely not forcing them to use Consola and Request. 

[00:30:08] Chris: Yeah, and I wanted to add exactly this, that Request Finance connects with all those crypto accounting softwares. And that is very important. We have many clients in common. Sometimes those accounting software have a specificity and they can onboard clients that we cannot.

[00:30:27] Chris: And sometimes that happened. That's what we see the most. We see clients who like Consola. Sometimes the pricing is better or better adapted to their needs. And, and basically there's also this responsiveness, reactivity that we were talking about. We can add a new chain in three to five days. We can onboard clients within days, we basically quite fast today.

[00:30:51] Chris: So basically the clients can reach out to us today and onboard by the end of the month and be happy for the next few years. So that's, that's one of the advantages that we've got today. It's a speed. 

[00:31:02] Umar: Now, moving on to the topic of pricing. Previously to use Request Finance, the payer would only be charged a 0.1% fee on the amount of the invoice. And that was capped at $2 per invoice. It was ridiculously cheap. 

[00:31:16] Umar: In June of 2023, you introduce a new subscription based pricing model. Now, introducing a paid product can be a make or break deal in web3. We've seen other products like Utopia Labs or Multis wind down and not survive.

[00:31:32] Umar: The takeaway is that building a free product in web3 is not sustainable. So using Request Finance is not cheap. If I take the Pro package, which allows you to pay $400,000 worth of monthly volume of payments, the price is at $900 per month. But the good news for Request is that this new pricing, it didn't scare your users away.

[00:31:57] Umar: What's been some of the reason, reasons why Request did not suffer the same fate as Utopia Labs and Multis with the introduction of this new pricing? 

[00:32:07] Chris: RequeFinancents is the safest product out there to do payments. When you talk about the price, I am thinking, well, six, seven years ago, I was doing crypto payments.

[00:32:21] Chris: Some payments would take me a few days, but globally in a week, I would easily take like two days to make payments. That was a horrible experience. If I value my time a little bit, like how much is it two days a week on a, on a monthly basis. So I think what we see that the pricing that we have put in place represents between one third and one tenth of the value that we see in the product.

[00:32:48] Chris: I consider that it is a cost effective and it's really helping a lot. Not only the person using the product, but also the but also the accountant, the auditor, the CPA, the external accountant. That's basically very helpful. People feel relieved once they have proper tooling, which is normal. That's usually why you use the products out there.

[00:33:11] Chris: And now there's a question of why Request Finance managed to implement a subscription where some other products did not. Well, they, we were measuring the right thing, except we were not making revenue until we started the subscription. The reason why we started the subscription is again, because that is what customers needed.

[00:33:37] Chris: That is what they needed to onboard the product. That is what they needed to trust the product. That is what they needed to try that the product will remain there for a long time. And they also needed the product. So basically there's this huge stickiness that we have with like 95 percent a one year retention on our June cohort.

[00:33:57] Chris: It is because the product is helpful. And indeed, if for some plans, doing things without Request Finance is going to cost probably one or two new hires in the, in the accounting team. So that, that, that just the reason it is easy to understand. I think that the products that failed did not necessarily fail because they introduced the subscription.

[00:34:20] Chris: They probably failed with a product stickiness in the first place. And then subscription basically show you the truth. We, we are quite happy with the results with more than 80 percent of the clients who converted and decided to adopt subscription. 

[00:34:34] TOF: And I will, I want you to add that for a CFO using a free product can be like interesting, but at the same time, it's super scary because like, how can a provider be sustainable if they don't make any money, right?

[00:34:51] TOF: Or spending investor money is like short term thing. That's like point one. The second one is, as Chris said, the Head of Finance we work with and now we have like, we'll talk about it later, but we have like 700 of them in the club. They all voted in favor of monetization because Head of Finance, they like to make forecast.

[00:35:14] TOF: So it's super easy to make a forecast when you pay a subscription more than transactional model. So subscription help to make forecast. And just to give you some numbers, last summer, before we introduced monetization, we were like doing 5 to 10 million of payment processing per month, something like this.

[00:35:39] TOF: And in February this year, we did 70 million. So people are not reluctant. It even contributes to adoption, I think. 

[00:35:46] Umar: All right. You mentioned the club. Let's speak about the club. In March of 2022, Request Finance launched the Web3CFO Club, which consists not only of CFOs, but also CEOs, Chief Operating Officers, Controllers, Accountants in web3.

[00:36:02] Umar: The club has grown to more than 700 members today and has CFOs from the most well known companies like Ledger, Aave, The Graph, Solana Foundation, and many more. Now, and the objective with this club is to help the acceleration of crypto through knowledge sharing. I want to ask you TOF, can you share the story of how this idea of the Web3CFO club was born?

[00:36:27] TOF: So this started like in 2020, originally with our very first customers. I created like a Telegram group with our very first customers. I can name them. They were like the CFOs of Aave, Maker, The Graph, Sandbox, Celo, Near and Gnosis.

[00:36:48] TOF: And I hope I don't forget anyone, anyways. And in this group, I created this group of those early customers and they were sharing tips and tricks like, does anyone know good lawyer in Austria? Does anyone know a fiduciary in Switzerland? And they were sharing like also like recruitments, tips and tricks regarding tooling and softwares.

[00:37:11] TOF: And Chris here identified that the opportunity saying that's fantastic. Slack has never been a scalable tool. So, sorry, Telegram has never been a scalable tool. So why don't we make all our user base benefit of that experience? And we created that Slack and switched tool. And in one year and a half, this community went from 15 members to 700 plus.

[00:37:40] TOF: And every day, as you said, we have like new CFOs, Head of Finance, Operations and Founders in this club with the same concept, sharing best practices regarding like accounting, audit, regulation, tax, and also admin. And it's working beautifully. 

[00:38:00] Umar: Now, Chris, what's your vision for the Web3CFO club? Do you see it as marketing channel for Request Finance and what experience do you want to provide to your members in the long run?

[00:38:12] Chris: If I recenter. Why am I here, right? Why are we in this room? And why am I here? And why am I in the crypto space for 10 years? I was a CFO before and I made mistakes because I did not have the network that I needed at the time. And I think that's more than important. If I really want crypto adoption to happen, which is my goal is it's better to connect people with each other, to make them protect each other, to make them share tips and best practices with each other, to have basically this very safe space where finance people can discuss.

[00:38:55] Chris: And and so that's the first goal. First goal is protect, be in a safe space, exchange. Of course, there's plenty of our clients that we have brought to the club so that they experience also this benefit. And of course, some of the people in the club have heard about Request Finance and became clients, which just makes sense.

[00:39:16] Chris: I think by itself, The club is going to bring the first 100,000 finance people to web3. And that is what we have started with 700 people. People who join, they want to learn about web3. They want to learn more about web3, even if they are already experts. Actually, a proper expert is learning more every day.

[00:39:40] Chris: And that's what we offer with this club. It is a, it is a community. People discuss online in a Slack group or in a forum, and they discuss face to face when we do a side events. So a few times a year, again, with different partners and all of us are here to help The 

[00:40:02] Umar: club is free for most people to join, except for accounting, auditing, taxation firms and CFO tools.

[00:40:10] Umar: For example, a CFO tool could be a token vesting product. In your role, onboarding new paid partners, how are you looking to work with these partners and so that they do contribute and bring value to the club and what kind of working relationship you strive to build in the long run?

[00:40:30] Chris: Again, it comes to protecting the finance people.

[00:40:33] Chris: So basically we protect them if we onboard a few partners. based on criterias. One of the criteria that this partner needs to be vetted by the community members. It needs to be a product that has proven with a proper track records already. And then those are paid partners because of course they've got access to all our clients and the, this community that we've been building.

[00:40:59] Chris: I mean, the three of us and plenty of other people have been building this community over, over years now. So that just makes sense. Actually, it's the perfect balance for, for a win for everyone. 

[00:41:13] Umar: I'm looking at the time and I'm seeing there's not so much time left. I want to speak about a bit about your roadmap.

[00:41:20] Umar: Can you share some of the upcoming features and milestones planned for Request Finance? 

[00:41:27] Chris: Yeah. So basically you talked about it, but there's a big milestone that is coming soon is that when we. When we help finance people transfer the first billion, I think that is impressive in terms of trust. And also that if you think about it, it's been already $700million, but $700million have been transferred safely, smoothly with Request Finance by hundreds of CFOs and finance people and founders.

[00:41:58] Chris: It's already incredibly good. I think even in 10 years, I will be proud. And we can be proud of the fact that we have already contributed to the adoption of crypto with what Request Finance is building. However, I, I want more, I mean, we want more, more finance people want more. And, and so we, we are gonna reach 1 billion, we're gonna reach 10 billion, 100 billion trillions.

[00:42:22] Chris: Because Web3 is basically gonna take over the cross-border transaction market. And we are in a good position to build this. In our roadmap, apart from expansion where basically we do crypto to fiat payments to 170 countries in 20 currencies. We're going to do 50 currencies, 100 currencies. Of course, we are expanding this as we speak.

[00:42:45] Chris: We have a proper all in one finance platform today. And what we are building also additional verticals. So as a reminder, we do accounts receivable, accounts payable, accounting, and payments, especially crypto to crypto payments and crypto to fiat payments. Of course, we will do fiat to crypto payments.

[00:43:10] Chris: We will also help with different partners for corporate credit cards. And we are looking at a few other improvements that I prefer not revealing yet, but basically we are adding a lot of security, safety, and growth at the same time for proper financial tooling for finance people, whether they are web2 or web3.

[00:43:35] Umar: Perfect. Thanks for sharing. So crypto corporate cards is on the way at Request Finance. I have a follow up questions on events for you TOF. I remember once you shared that in your early days of Request, you were in your words, not mine a nobody when attending web3 events. No one knew Request and you had to persevere by becoming a familiar face people started to trust and that's how Request was able to onboard its very first clients.

[00:44:05] Umar: When you, so you travel a lot and when you plan the marketing budget for events, what in your experience is the better return between paying for a booth at a conference versus just attending side events to meet people of the ecosystem. 

[00:44:20] TOF: Yeah, that's an interesting question. One aspect is paying for a booth at the conference is we've been paying booth and make this experience.

[00:44:31] TOF: It doesn't really pay off. It's a big investment. You have to have a lot of staff there. So you make a lot of people travel to go to the event, to attend the booth. And when you are attend the booth. You do not choose who you talk to. You just like wait and talk to the inbound. I would say you're not selective and it costs a lot of money.

[00:44:57] TOF: Now, having a booth is also on the contrary. It's also a good thing because when you go to a conference or to a show, you expect to see the big brands there, right? So at some point when you become big enough, your target audience expect you to be here or to find a booth with your brand because you're like part of the infrastructure of the industry or a necessity piece of the industry.

[00:45:27] TOF: So they expect to see you here, so I would balance this as useful, but costly. So in the early years, not necessary at all. On the contrary side events are like quite fantastic in the sense that you invite exactly who you want. It's not inbound. It's like outbound. Like you do, you do not just like talk to random people because you invited these people, right?

[00:45:58] TOF: So you selected them. So this is really interesting. And a side event is often like a third of what a booth would cost you somehow. So hosting a side event, it could be like, it doesn't need to be fancy. Like you could just like have drinks in a cafe or in the park and people are super happy with these people.

[00:46:20] TOF: It doesn't need to be fancy to be good. So I definitely like favor like side events compared to like having a booth until you're a big, large organization like that everyone needs. Or expect to see at the trade show. 

[00:46:36] Umar: Got it. I have a last question. And the last question is a selfish one. So Chris, I want to first thank you for your support in launching and being, being an instructor at the Crypto Accounting Academy.

[00:46:49] Umar: So Chris has been teaching for two cohorts now, and I hope you'll be with us for many more. So for the listeners, I left my job at Request Finance and the Web3CFO Club to now fully focus on the Academy. Chris, as an entrepreneur, if you had a piece of advice for me, what would it be? 

[00:47:07] Chris: I mean, you know, my relationship with advice.

[00:47:10] Chris: So you need, you need to, to think about what it means to you. I can't give a recipe, but I can share experience. I think when you start a project and you start being full time on a project, it helps to anticipate many things, anticipate milestones, and prepare the decisions that you will make based on those milestones.

[00:47:35] Chris: So basically you already have your future decided. It's just conditional to what is going to happen and what the KPIs are going to be. And once you have this plan in mind, so you get more clarity of mind, which is also one of my goals in life. And with this clarity of mind, you can go all in and really with passion and give everything to it.

[00:48:00] Umar: Thank you, Chris. I'll remember that and setting KPIs and goals will be very important for me in the coming months. There's a last question that, so Chris, you already know this, that I like asking to my guests before they leave is I like to ask for a favorite quote or maxim. So Chris, when I asked you this for the first time, your answer was trying not to listen to advice that others gives you and think about it and give yourself your own advice.

[00:48:26] Umar: So I want to ask you TOF, do you have a favorite quote or maxim that you live by? 

[00:48:31] TOF: Oh yeah, I have one. I was thinking of this and I always repeat to everyone I know all the projects I meet that are curious about what led us to success at Request and every time I answer the same. Resilience pays off. So that's the, that's it.

[00:48:53] Umar: And there's also another one that once you shared a story with me, that you do believe in the power of manifestation. And it's something that I also believe in. I'm not, of course, going to share the personal story that you had shared with me, but that's something that I try to put into practice. It's something I believe in to visualize your success and to kind of manifest it for the future.

[00:49:16] Umar: So living in that state already. So Chris and TOF, I want to thank you for your time, but not just for today for the past 45 minutes we've been speaking, but actually for the past two years working with you guys. This experience of working with Request, Finance, Request Network, and the Web3CFO Club has transformed my career and yeah, it's an experience I'm always going to be, I will always cherish and we'll be in touch and I'm sure we'll keep seeing each other.

[00:49:46] Chris: Of course. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

[00:49:48] Umar: Thank you. 

[00:49:52] Umar: I would like to thank everyone for listening to this episode. You will find all the links of the episode, show notes, and transcript on the website of The Accountant Quits at theaccountantquits.com. Please note that this content is for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

[00:50:12] Umar: If you do know anyone who could benefit from the episode and you care about them, please do share the episode with them. All the episodes are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, and by leaving us a review and rating, you will support the channel and all your fellow accountants. In order to be notified each time we release a new episode, do follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn.

[00:50:35] Umar: We hope to have you with us next time. Bye for now.

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