Q&A with Voyager CEO and Co-Founder Steve Ehrlich

Getting to Know You

Tell us the origin story of Voyager. How did it all come about?

My co-founders and I sat down last year for breakfast in Soho to talk about a potential crypto business. After that, the breakfasts continued weekly and our idea grew bigger, and bigger. The five of us have each respectively built successful businesses in the technology and finance sectors, and when we looked at the current offering in the crypto market we knew we could do better. We believed (and still do) that crypto was here to stay and that the market was only going to grow larger and more mature. We wanted to be a part of the financial revolution and we knew that we could give investors the solutions they deserved.

What inspired you to make the switch from traditional finance to crypto?

Early in my career I worked at TIR, one of only 3 global soft dollar brokers when the Soft Dollar Brokerage industry emerged. At Lightspeed Financial, I led the first Broker Dealer solely focused on active traders and automated trading. As CEO of Tradier, I led an API brokerage before any broker dealers were utilizing that technology. I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the forefront of many financial revolutions, including online trading at E*Trade. Crypto seemed like the obvious next step for me and is too exciting to miss out on being a participant in that community..

This industry being so new, what gave you the confidence in crypto and blockchain to take the big leap?

As soon as I learned about the technology, I knew it was the next big thing. It’s one of the few emerging technologies that I felt had major growth potential. We had seen the “internetization” of information and media. Money seemed like the logical next evolution.That being said, when I looked into the existing infrastructure, I could see it was lacking many of the components that drove equities and online trading to be successful.

What are the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome while building Voyager?

The crypto market is so new and because of that it’s sort of the wild west. There is very little regulatory guidance and there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the technology. For us, a lot of work went into making sure we were following the existing regulation and preparing for a more regulated future while still honoring the disruptive nature of crypto.

There’s also a major liquidity issue in the market. We knew from day one that we wanted to be aggressive in the assets that we offered. It was difficult to find reputable custody partners that supported a wide range of crypto assets. By building a Smart Order Router that connected to multiple exchanges and partnering with elite partners like Ethos we’ve been able to create a custody and liquidity network unlike any other in the market.

Tell us a little bit about the team culture at Voyager. How does the team currently operate and how do you see it expanding?

Collectively our founders and employees have built businesses in nearly every sector — finance, technology, healthcare, crypto, and more. We’re not scared to pave the way and cause disruption – which is really important in this space. All of our experience seemed to prepare us perfectly to take on the crypto market. Over the last year we’ve grown from a couple of friends getting coffee, to a full fledged team across multiple offices. It’s been a lot of fun! Every employee at Voyager is passionate about crypto and genuinely wants it to be for the masses.

The Voyager Technology

Voyager has built your signature Smart Router technology, how does that work and compare to other order execution engines?

The current crypto asset market structure forces investors to find liquidity and competitive pricing on their own – often leading customers to open multiple accounts on different exchanges and trading platforms. Our smart order router does the work for you. We’re connected to multiple trusted and secure exchanges and liquidity providers. The router is designed to be constantly monitoring order books and always knows where to achieve best execution, even if that means filling an order fractionally across multiple exchanges. It processes data in real-time and executes orders within milliseconds of a customer placing a trade. (You can learn more about it here.)

Can you share about the differences and similarities of how your technology is used for the purposes of a Fiat Gateway vs Crypto Trading?

Trading is just the beginning. We want to make more crypto assets available to more people. In order to do this, there needs to be a reliable fiat gateway to the crypto market. We’ve built this by partnering with the best liquidity providers and custodians in the industry. Our technology allows users to convert their fiat currencies from a bank account to a wide range of crypto assets instantly. There’s no crypto trading, investing, or purchasing without a fiat gateway.

So the big question! Can I just simply pay with cash via Debit Card or Bank Account to purchase crypto, and then it shows up in my Universal Wallet?! Will it be that easy?

Yes, that’s the goal! Customers will be able to connect their bank accounts and buy 15+ crypto assets (including Ethos in the near future) with USD. Ethos wallet holders will be able to seamlessly transfer their assets in and out of their wallets with fiat trading being integrated soon.

Ethos x Voyager – Explained

We see Ethos and Voyager as a “match made in heaven.” How do you envision Ethos and Voyager working closely together to build the future of finance?

We’re creating a truly integrated product built solely to benefit customers. Together with Ethos we’re bringing news, research, best execution trading, a wide range of crypto assets, self-custody, a payment mechanism and world class service to the crypto market. Execution and custody are the biggest hindrances in the crypto industry maturing. With Ethos, we help solve that directly!

The Ethos Universal Wallet will be integrated into the Voyager retail and institutional businesses, allowing customers to self-custody their crypto assets and seamlessly convert back-and-forth to fiat. Together, we’ll offer both retail and institutional crypto investors unparalleled liquidity, speed, and security.

Voyager and Ethos share the joint vision of a financial system that is open, safe, and fair for everyone. We believe that crypto is the future, and together we’re building the infrastructure to support and drive mass adoption.

Ethos has built Bedrock – an enterprise application making blockchain accessible to institutions like yours. How does Voyager intend to integrate and utilize Ethos’ Bedrock technology?

Bedrock will help strengthen the institutional offering. The combined Bedrock and Voyager B2B offering will enable businesses of all types to build crypto applications rooted in custody, payments, investing, and more. Voyager’s institutional partners will have access to Bedrock for a powerful custody solution, while Ethos Bedrock customers now gain access to trade execution. We get to offer the full package.

The Timeline

We are on the edge of our seats…When will Voyager release?

Soon! Our public beta is just weeks away. After release, we will upgrade and evolve the app quickly but we are extremely proud of the application that we will ship this year.

So it will be available to the US first, what’s the plan for international expansion?

We’re spending significant time with US counsel to bring Voyager to all 50 states. We’re also working with international regulators to bring Voyager outside of the US as quickly as possible, but we don’t have a set timeline in place yet.

As a visionary, how do you foresee crypto transforming how money is used in our daily lives and in a digital age?

I believe that crypto evolution will happen in 4 areas: buying (converting fiat to crypto), trading (investing), holding (custody), and paying (or transferring). Today, we’re seeing people participating in all four of these pillars but mass adoption hasn’t occurred yet in any single one. Trading is the only crypto use case that has seen any significant adoption. I believe that with time, people will use crypto assets in their daily life but first, the market needs to grow and mature to support this shift. Some of the strongest use cases for crypto are happening in countries with hyperinflation. People living in Venezuela, for example, have an alternative, independent currency that’s actually worth something. Crypto will democratize finance and I think that’s a really good thing. It’s about time that money moves as fast as information does these days. Crypto and Blockchain are what make that happen.

Thank you for your amazing answers, last big question! We jumped in Doc’s car, hit the gas and gunned it to the future. It’s now the end of 2020, what do you see for Voyager?

We believe that the financial industry is in a transformational phase. Payments, trading, custody and clearing are all changing because of crypto. Some changes will take place in the short term, but the bigger disruption will probably take more time. We want to be at the forefront –– educating consumers and regulators, developing solutions, and leading the way towards a more democratized financial future. Long term, the possibilities of blockchain technology and crypto are endless. We are confident that equities will take form as digital assets, crypto will be used at your corner store, and many companies will look more like decentralized networks. In the meanwhile, the industry has a lot of work to do!