Q&A with Charmaine Short, Operational Test Manager at Fnality International

Region: Europe
Jan 9, 2024, 4:21:53 PM Published By Wirex Team

We're back for another round of engaging conversations, and this time we're shining a spotlight on Charmaine Short, Operational Test Manager at Fnality International and a notable finalist on the Rising Women in Crypto Power List! Curious to know more about her journey? Check out our quick Q&A for a glimpse into the experiences and insights.

Reflecting on your recognition on the Rising Women in Crypto Power List, what's one moment recently that made you go, "Wow, I'm really making a mark in this crypto journey"?

Last month Fnality International secured Series B funding of £77.7m. This was led by Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas, with participation from DTCC, Euroclear, Nomura and WisdomTree. There were also additional investments from Series A investors Banco Santander, BNY Mellon, Barclays, CIBC, Commerzbank, ING, Lloyds Banking Group, Nasdaq Ventures, State Street, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and UBS. The latest funding round brings Fnality's total capital raised to £132.7m.

Fnality are bringing together the safety and institutional quality of central bank money with the innovative functionality and resilience of blockchain technology to launch the initial Sterling Fnality Payment System. Working with regulators, we are establishing a world-first global liquidity management ecosystem that empowers new digital payment models in both wholesale financial markets and emerging tokenized asset markets.

This level of commitment demonstrates the financial sector’s desire for a blockchain-based settlement solution that bridges the gap between traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi) in wholesale markets. The payments landscape is shifting, and financial institutions do not want to be left behind.

What's one everyday skill you think has been your secret weapon in dealing with the challenges of the crypto world?

I am fascinated by diverse cultures and enjoy connecting with people across a broad range of perspectives. The blockchain is borderless and gives a voice to people who are normally excluded from the decision-making process. In 2020 I co-founded the Women of Crypto Art DAO to strengthen and celebrate the female presence in the digital art space which grew to a community of over 1300 NFT artists from over 40 countries. With a background in finance and IT, my talent lies in bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders and oiling the wheels to keep everyone moving in the same direction for a successful project launch.

If you weren't involved in crypto, what job or career would you be interested in?

Before my involvement in Web3, my background was in software quality. I am particularly interested in accessibility. In 2022 I helped organize an art exhibition of 200 women NFT artists showcasing 400+ artworks in 70 art galleries across 3 metaverse platforms. This worldwide event was a huge undertaking to help put women artists on the map and ensure their art is as valued and valuable as their male peers. If I was not in the Web3 space, I would be working on a ‘tech for good‘ project to create inclusive and accessible IT solutions that meet the needs of a diverse range of users and give minority groups a voice.

What's one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first jumped into the crypto space?

One of the mantras in Web3 is, ‘Buy the dip.’ What people don’t tell you is that there is a point where the dip descends into a death spiral. I learned this valuable lesson when buying LUNA in May 2021 at £50 per coin, thinking it was a bargain. Unfortunately, this was the start of the collapse of the Terra algorithmic blockchain. By the end of the day, my coins were worth zero.

How do you maintain your well-being?

It is important for me to switch off from technology at regular intervals to clear my head. I take walks in the countryside as often as possible. This helps put challenges into perspective and creates space for innovative ideas. I also have a great appreciation for art and enjoy visiting galleries, both physical and in the metaverse to add to my art collection.

Who/what inspires you?

I am inspired by innovative technology and new financial products. Fnality’s network of distributed Financial Market Infrastructures (dFMIs) provide a compelling suite of use cases with the ability to reduce settlement cycles to real-time, while significantly improving intraday liquidity management and marking significant innovation in the functionality, and resilience of wholesale payments. Several landmark proof of concept projects have already demonstrated many of these capabilities, including real-time settlement of tokenized securities, real-time cross-border FX swaps, and real-time repo transactions. Each of these shows the potential in leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT) to facilitate traditional financial activity and achieve faster, safer, and more efficient exchange of value in global wholesale markets.

What sets Fnality apart from other DLT solutions is that the Sterling Fnality Payment System (FnPS) has previously been recognised by HM Treasury as a systemically important payment system in the UK, bringing it into the regulatory remits of the Bank of England and the Payment Systems Regulator. This made the Sterling FnPS the first regulated DLT-based payment system in the world.

I believe, as a growing industry-backed consortium and longstanding engagement with key central banks and regulators, Fnality is well positioned at the intersection of these converging markets, empowering both sides in the process.

How do you stay informed and adapt to emerging trends and technologies within the industry?

I previously worked in the banking industry where cross-border payments take days to settle. There’s a lot of great innovation in DLT. I became fascinated with the possibility of real-time payment settlement for cross-border transactions and tokenizing assets as NFTs. I enjoy learning new ways to leverage DLT to facilitate 24/7 payment rails for traditional finance to achieve faster, safer, and more efficient exchange of value across global markets. I also listen to Web3 podcasts including the Pomp Podcast and Digital Perspectives.

Can you recommend a good read?

There are many excellent books on blockchain for instance Blockland: 21 Stories of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrency by Elias Ahonen. This is an entertaining, easy-to-read tale of the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of Web3 technology. I also love the book’s cover artwork which is the iconic ‘Bitcoin Angel’ by one of my favourite NFT artists, Trevor Jones. I have this NFT plus a signed physical print of the artwork in my collection.

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations, both personally and in your contributions to the crypto space?

I would like to see Fnality’s payment system expand its Sterling real-time payment capability across more currencies including the US Dollar and the Euro. I also look forward to the adoption of institutional-grade on-chain cash assets to settle delivery versus payment (DvP) transactions on a real-time basis. This will empower organizations to manage virtually all their cash and collateral from a single, global pool of liquidity.

In 2024 I look forward to onboarding more banks to blockchain technology. Years from now when digital assets on the blockchain are institutionally adopted, I want to be proud of my role in transforming payments and collateral management in global markets, not just for banks but also for hedge funds and other emerging tokenized asset markets.