Author: Anton Shmerkin

A Conversation with Hanna Petrova, TRASTRA COO

I sat down with Hanna hours before she was supposed to go off on her well-deserved vacation. But Hanna Petrova, TRASTRA's "Employee Zero" - the very first hire by the founder, Roman Potemkin - is not easily swayed out of the COO mode by the promise of sandy beaches. Enjoy our sparkling conversation about Hannah herself, women in crypto, startup culture, and the future of TRASTRA


Give us a little bit of a background on yourself, a short version of your resumè if you will


If we start with the degree that I have, it might be hard to explain how I ended up working with crypto. I have a master’s degree in pneumatic and hydraulic machines. In other words, I’m an engineer who should be working on new airplane models or invent a better version of Tesla cars. But after four years of studying, I’ve decided that I need to start working.

Since my first job in customer support, I was always connected with financial markets, investments, and risk management. I was curious about the movement of money and assets in the market environment, so I quickly found a gap in the business logic that was causing financial losses and other internal discrepancies for the company I was working for at the time. So I got promoted to an analyst, which moved me even closer to understanding that my main passion lies in developing new processes, optimizing old ones, and finding new ways to decrease risks.

Then there was IPSP. Working there, I’ve learned a lot about card transactions, compliance, fraud dispute schemes, and Visa/MasterCard card processing rules. I worked there for three years as a business analyst, and we were continuously improving our product, working with risks, and optimizing internal processes. I liked my work there, but I wanted to get new challenges and satisfy my ambition.

And then Roman found me. When I was applying to TRASTRA, I had some major jitters about being able to handle working in startup culture, doing everything on a shoe-string budget and a tight deadline. But after working at TRASTRA for about a month, I’ve received excellent feedback from Roman, learned a lot about blockchain and cryptocurrency, and couldn’t stop thinking about a successful launch of our project.

There’s a claim going around that women “don’t get crypto.” I’m always gender-neutral on who gets what, and crypto is no exception, but I’m curious if you have an opinion on the subject.


It’s true that fintech’s been dominated by men for decades, but today’s picture is dramatically different from what we’ve seen on “Mad Men.” Nowadays, Cryptoverse is as much a women’s domain as a man’s: a Gemini survey found that over 40% of the UK crypto investors are actually women. Another trivia piece is the CoinCorner survey that revealed that the share of women on the exchange was 14.7%, which represents a 47% increase over the last two years. So as you can see, a proper gender equity draft can be observed here, although I’m not about to go “girl power” on the entire space; social psychology states that women are less prone to risk-taking than men. We take more time than men to analyze the situation, and evaluating multiple outcomes is our thing. This means that more women entering the Cryptoverse after years of scrupulous probing is a sure sign of looming mass adoption. 

What do you see as your mission at TRASTRA?


I want to leverage the value of our proprietary tech and all the experiences we’ve accumulated over the years to help reformat the space so that the inherent practicality of transacting using crypto is apparent enough for all players – big and small, institutional, and private. There are many early adopters, and people are excited about being able to use crypto in close conjunction with fiat in everyday transactions. But what we’re working on at TRASTRA is the transnational cross-currency protocols that will make the tech usable for people like you and me, an everyday user. We want to create conditions for people to stop treating crypto as though it was a forex market, stop reselling digital assets to each other in hopes for quick gains and start using the broad benefits of crypto to sustain businesses, pay taxes, transact globally – in a word, use it as they would fiat but with the obvious added value of speed, security, low costs, and of course, universal access. 

You are the very first TRASTRA employee, the first hire of Roman Potemkin, the founder. And today, TRASTRA is a successful business, a tight international collective of a few dozen people devoted to the same idea of finding an actual practical use for crypto. The journey must have been an arduous one rife with risks and uncertainties. What made you take this tremendous leap of faith and join TRASTRA? 


Let me tell you: Roman Potemkin knows how to inspire people. At first, I was just very excited to work on something new. I liked the idea of developing a big project from the ground up and seeing it all the way to market. I saw a great niche for myself, an important opportunity to learn new things and face new challenges. It’s also an interesting sensation to grow professionally along with the project you’re developing and observe both personal and professional maturation in real-time. This was very important to me. I think Roman possesses a unique talent to reveal the right goals at the right time and put the right perspective on things so that achieving personal and professional goals turns from a challenge to a thrilling journey of self-discovery.

So, even though we’ve had a lot of issues before going live (right now, you’re looking at the fourth iteration of TRASTRA. The three before it, not unlike The Matrix, were flawed, had to be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch), I’m very proud that we managed to become a successful startup with the best team ever. Each challenge made TRASTRA and me stronger and better.

Do you plan on adding more crypto to your portfolio? More fiat, other than EUR? How will you decide which ones to add?


Sure, we have a lot of plans regarding adding new cryptocurrencies as well as adding more fiat. We study the market and get a lot of feedback from our customers. It helps us make the right decision about what should be next.

As far as announcements go, I will leave them to our marketing team. They do a great job keeping our current and potential customers informed, and they’re awesome at community engaging, so if you’re not already, please subscribe to our newsletters and other materials they put out (basically, registering an account is enough for receiving regular updates) and follow us on social media. One little secret I will reveal is that we have a crypto giveaway coming in the next few days, so you’ll do very well keeping your ear to the ground.

Will getting verified on the platform eventually become easier or more difficult?


We did everything in our power to make the verification process as smooth as possible while remaining compliant. We do require our customers to pass through several stages of identity verification, but for the most part, our users verify their account within minutes and without the need for any extraordinary revelations. Hopefully, there won’t be any new requirements from regulators in the future so that we can continue with the same flow.

Right now, TRASTRA only services the European Economic Area (EEA). Do you have any plans to expand?


It is one of my strategic goals for the next few months – to find the best partners in new regions and start providing cards beyond the EEA.

Do you plan on issuing a TRASTRA token?


We’ve discussed it several times, at length. The current outlook is that there’s no fundamental necessity for it. We have everything we need to provide a quality solution for those looking to operate with crypto, utilizing its many benefits to the fullest. We have plenty we can do for employers looking to pay their employees and subcontractors in crypto. We’ve got exhaustive options for those in the Eurozone who are exchanging crypto and EUR regularly. In other words, just like with everything else under the sun, with TRASTRA, there’s room for improvement but tokenizing our service is just not the right move for us right now, which is not to say that in the right circumstances, we won’t reopen this issue.


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