TECH TALK: Meet Alex Mashinsky, everyone’s white knight

Alex Mashinsky is a hard-headed, pioneering entrepreneur who has already made $3 billion in profits, and he’s just getting started.

 ALEX MASHINSKY. (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Alex Mashinsky is a man with a mission. He’s a frontline fighter for consumer rights and the ultimate king of innovation. But Mashinsky is not your run-of-the-mill do-gooder. He’s a hard-headed, pioneering entrepreneur who has already made $3 billion in profits, and he’s just getting started.

A billionaire’s decentralized vision – Mashinsky has a passion for protecting the average Joe against large corporations, controlling industries and monolithic institutions. He asked himself why these businesses should serve as supposedly irreplaceable middlemen when a service can be offered directly to the user at little or no cost.

• No-cost communication for all – After thinking it through, he realized that the answer lies in finding better solutions for consumers that would displace the go-between. This led him to take on the phone industry, which charged $3 a minute for international calls.

He established Arbinet, which developed an innovative new concept: VOIP-based voice calls. Mashinsky went on to found Comgates, which produced softswitches for VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol). The ultimate development was Elematics, a pioneer in the area of network virtualization, which now comprises a vital system component for Amazon Cloud, Microsoft and Google.

VOIP-based technology currently serves more than 3.5 billion end users at no cost. Anyone with a PC or cellphone can use WhatsApp, Skype or FaceTime to make local and international phone calls free of charge.

• Free wireless services for mass transportation – Mashinsky took on another giant when he questioned why the Metropolitan Transit Authority refused to build wireless systems for New York subways. Raising the battle cry once again, he fought the MTA, which finally agreed to take a survey of consumers. After a resounding response, the MTA was forced to open a bid. Today, eight million commuters use free wireless every day and Mashinsky scored another win.

• Coming up: the battle against the banks – Not one to rest on his laurels, Mashinsky is now aiming his guns at another monolithic dinosaur – the banking system. He notes that the classic banking system is stacked against the customer. Depositors put their money in banks to make profits, but it’s the banks that are reaping all the benefits.

Once again, he raises the banner for decentralization. According to Mashinsky’s vision for the future, the structure of finance must evolve from a pyramid shape to a circular form, where opportunities are available to all. The move to a blockchain-based automated system and cryptocurrency will cut out the central and commercial banks as go-betweens and place the customers’ needs squarely in the center where everyone has the potential to succeed financially.

To achieve this aim, Mashinsky founded Celsius Network with Daniel Leon, a business and social entrepreneur with a proven track record of growing early-stage companies and building organizations from the ground up, a crypto-lending and borrowing platform that raised $50 million in an initial coin offering in 2018. Celsius has developed a series of customer-focused services that big banks left in the dust long ago – things like fair interest, zero fees and super-quick transactions. Mashinsky envisions a monetary system in which national currencies will no longer rule the roost but rather a stable crypto coin.


Cryptocurrency logos (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Cryptocurrency logos (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Celsius is about to cross $20 billion in assets under management and one million customers, which makes it one of the largest contenders to reinvent traditional finance. Will Mashinsky succeed one more time in taking the power away from the haves and giving it back to the have nots or is finance too strong and politically entrenched to be disrupted.

• What will the future bring? – Can Mashinsky truly shake up the financial world as we currently know it? Will he be able to generate the mass adoption that is so crucial to the new system’s success? He’s done it before and maybe he can do it again. Here’s a piece of advice: Keep your eye on this white knight. He’s a brilliant meteor who brings amazing innovations in his wake.