ValueWalk’s Interview with Jason Blick, the CEO and Director of EQIBank. In this interview, Jason discusses his and his company’s background, working with businesses and high-net-worth individuals who are in need of digital banking services, his views on the cryptocurrency markets, dealing with the cumbersome KYC and AML procedures, and why EQIBank’s chosen jurisdiction is Dominica.
Since 2015, the EQIBank team has been focused on operational excellence and the attached is designed to provide a summary of how far ahead EQIBank is compared to most Challenger Banks – especially in terms of operating dynamics, product and market selection and margin protection. As you know, we are now revenue generating and in addition to fostering organic growth, broadening our base of high-margin clients and cooperating with strong partners, EQIBank is committed to accelerated expansion. Put simply, we have delivered one of the most exciting Bank’s in the digital space and are attracting substantial market, client and industry attention.
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EQIBank is licensed to provide full banking services, including standard transactions such as foreign exchange, wire transfers, regular deposits, letters of credit, bank guarantees, and all of the benefits you would expect of a leading financial institution.
We benefit from:
- Multi-jurisdictional onshore and offshore client-centric business model
- Sustainable growth through the cross servicing of all our lines of business
- Uniform and global digital strategy and vertical stack
- Best of breed cost to income ratio
- Tax exempt status”
Can you tell us about your background?
Im a UK qualified lawyer, focused on banking and financial services. Over the last 20 years I have advised projects worth more than $13 billion.
Back in 1999, I became the Country Manager of Berrymans Lace Mawer (UAE), a leading UK law firm. Later, with Sun Microsystems, I managed legal and compliance in over 90 countries and oversaw more than $1.5 billion worth of transactions per year.
I then served as CEO of Financial Partners Bank, overseeing more than 12,000 clients and $1.2 assets under administration.
I am also the founder of Cayman Enterprise City, the Cayman Commodities and Derivative Exchange, and served on the board of the Cayman Islands Government Special Economic Zone Authority.
Currently, I am the CEO and Director of EQIBank.
When did you get into digital banking services and start EQIBank and why?
EQIBank was established in 2015. We provide global digital banking services for high net worth clients and businesses. We realized that, thanks to the free flow of information on the internet, there is more information available at our client’s fingertips than ever before, and this has led to greater demands for a new kind of banking experience. Additionally, we wanted to meet this demand, and in order to do so, we realized the only way was through a bank.
This is due to the high barriers to entry, with regulations and such, for non-bank competitors. In certain jurisdictions, regulators have relaxed regulations as a way of fostering innovation in the banking industry. New technologies have lowered the barriers to entry, too.
New digital financial services firms don’t need to build atop old, clunky systems like traditional banks do. Look no further than Facebook, and it’s blockchain project, Libra, to see that new ways of banking have evolved. Traditional financial institutions are investing in digital-only brands because it’s hard for them to appeal to millennials. As a global digital bank, the whole of the EQIBank ecosystem has been built around digital technologies.
Deloitte found that 38 percent of customers felt that UX was the most important criterion when choosing a digital bank. Today, banks must employ customer-centric methodologies for designing the customer experience. This is exactly what we’ve set out to do, alongside providing the best-in-class banking services to our clients. While our clients interact with us primarily through digital channels, Personal Relationship specialists are available to speak with our clients.
What does your bank do?
As a boutique, offshore bank we provide a diverse ecosystem of financial services for our clients, including private banking, card services, business banking, and insured custody services. We can serve modern professionals, executives, and corporations in more than 180 countries.
Our services must be global in scope in order to meet our client demands. The digital bank business model has proven that economies of scale are currently the single most critical success factor. Our executives have decades of banking experience, and we continue to methodically develop our business even further to serve our clients in ways other digital banks cannot.
How does it make money?
We charge competitive fees for the delivery of our core banking services. We also provide insured custody for digital assets, as well as investment and wealth management.
Do you focus on business or individual clients in your digital banking services?
We work with businesses and high-net-worth individuals, who are increasingly in need of digital banking services. HNWI and corporate banking clients value education on long-term goals, planning tools and services. Our customized services are tailored to each individual or corporation. When banking with EQIBank, our clients will receive personalized assistance to guide them through the various stages of their wealth creation.
What is your view on bitcoin?
I recognize that our clients want access to cryptocurrency markets. According to a survey by Dubai-based financial consultancy firm deVere Group released on May 3, 68% of global high-net-worth individuals plan to invest in crypto by the end of 2022.
The U.S.-based asset management firm Fidelity Investments, furthermore, released a survey during which they discovered 22% of institutional investors own digital assets. This is the data we’re looking at as we design a global digital bank.
In order to guide their clients to the best of their ability, financial professionals need to understand how new financial technologies are changing markets. We’ve kept up to date with blockchain, and through that process learned that our clients want insured digital asset custody and other products. That’s why our clients enjoy simple access to digital asset exposure. Since our client’s want access to these markets, It is our duty to also then be specialists in cryptocurrencies.
How do you deal with KYC?
According to Deloitte, 38% of customers drop out of the onboarding process because they do not want to deal with paperwork. While there is an increasing growth of digital-only banking customers, many of them are less satisfied than their traditionally-banked counterparts, according to J.D. Power, which found that the 28% of retail banking consumers who are digital-only represent the least satisfied customer segments examined.
Needless to say, opening a new account can sometimes be a difficult experience, and a lot of that boils down to cumbersome KYC and AML procedures. You need to go into a branch usually and follow an outdated paper-based onboarding process. Each onboarding experience is different, but there are generally too many friction points. Improving the onboarding experience should be a first priority for financial institutions. We believe account signups should be nearly as easy as signing up for many popular social media websites.
It’s not easy to do digital onboarding in many parts of the world, because regulators prefer paperwork. But, our digital onboarding process mitigates all the same risk that paper does. Our potential clients go through sanctions screening, direct connections to company registries, identity verification, and digital asset wallet screening. Our onboarding process competes with large onshore incumbents when it comes to compliant KYC on-boarding procedures under a digitally led approach.
Another way in which we deal with KYC is education. We take pride in education prospective clients about why we need them to fill out certain documents. We also have an open dialogue with regulators about streamlining our onboarding process.
Usually digital banking services are highly monitored? Who are your regulatory bodies?
EQIBank’s chosen jurisdiction is Dominica. It is recognized as being within the best regulated international finance centres by global bodies such as the Group of Twenty (G20), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Dominica is committed to meeting the highest regulatory standards and supporting global initiatives that help prevent the abuse of financial services, evidenced by the following:
- Full alignment to the EU's Third Anti-Money Laundering Directive
- Full signatory to the IOSCO Multilateral Treaty, a benchmark for cross-border cooperation between regulators
- Early adopter of the new international Common Reporting Standard for the automatic exchange of financial information
- Strong record of cooperation with law enforcement agencies and tax authorities - including unlimited access upon request, to its central register of beneficial ownership.
Final thoughts on digital banking services?
Only thank you for taking the time to learn about EQIBank, and that anyone can apply today to open an account.