Ana Maria Anic has always had an affinity for fighting crime. Today, she’s a real-life “007,” spending her days battling fraudsters and cybercrime as the Head of Financial Crime at MoonPay, where she joined as the seventh member of the team.
She is no stranger to the startup world, having provided her expertise to multiple fintechs in Ireland and Croatia, where she honed her master skills of deduction. It was really her passion for coding and 15-hour days in front of a screen that set Ana Maria on a mission to make payments safer for the future.
Ana Maria is really fuelled by her curiosity, which has her constantly learning and gaining a better understanding on how to improve current processes.
Before assuming positions at companies like PayPal, Ana Maria spent her younger years in her hometown in Croatia, attached to her computer screen. When she wasn’t gaming, she was testing out command prompt tricks, sending error messages to her neighbors’ computers, and acting as head admin on various gaming servers she’d started. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was teaching herself skills in a trade she’d be deeply involved in the near future.
It wasn’t until she entered the workforce that she realized just how valuable those long hours were. At her first job, she recognized how she could channel those hacking skills for good.
When Ana Maria landed a job in Ireland at PayPal as a fraud analyst, she used her spare time to sharpen her coding skills to better collaborate with their development team.
Starting her next chapter, Ana Maria left her post in Ireland to go back to Croatia, where she found herself to be a very sought-after commodity in the local fintech (and booming crypto) scene. Ana Maria began working with various startups, lending her expertise to help them build a solid foundation for growth. It was because of the fast-paced nature of the blockchain and web3 industry, she juggled multiple roles at once. “You can't be picky around what you want to do; at a startup company, you should focus on whatever is needed.” Still, Ana Maria said she was grateful for the opportunity, as having a wider range of experience and knowledge gave her an advantage, one she brought with her to MoonPay.
Joining MoonPay at the dawn of a global pandemic wasn’t part of the plan, but for Ana Maria, the downtime presented a unique opportunity for growth. “When it’s quiet, and everyone is asleep, that’s when you should prepare and plan for what’s coming,” she said. And that’s exactly what she did.
It was this strategic preparation that helped MoonPay grow from a team of fewer than 10 employees in March 2020 to almost 300 today. Cultivating a healthy company culture, promoting effective and open communication within her teams, and taking the time to listen to their experiences and concerns, Ana Maria noticed a positive ripple effect of change. This calculated approach, she said, is what has made MoonPay an outlier in the wave of tech layoffs we’re witnessing today.
“Every member at MoonPay is there because we need them,” she said, noting that many fintechs chose to allocate investment money into hiring that wasn’t always necessary, leading to today’s mass layoffs. “Now, I’d say we’re a rocket ship flying very high, and with all the healthy changes that are coming, I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next.”
Ana Maria is bullish on the future of cryptocurrency and web3 at large. However, there’s still a way to go before getting to mass adoption, she said. For Ana Maria, "adoption and adapting go hand in hand". And as with any innovation, resistance is always to be expected “at first."
"In the rapidly evolving world of web3, it’ll be worth the risk if you’ve gone the extra mile to educate yourself and immerse yourself into meaningful discussions," she said.
For that reason, it’s important to continue to foster an educational environment in the ecosystem, circulating knowledge about not only all the benefits that blockchain technology brings but also how to navigate any potential risks. That begins with increasing awareness about how to avoid fraud attempts and equipping key players in the financial ecosystem with the resources to better understand web3.
This crypto winter isn’t bringing Ana Maria down. The younger generation gives her hope that mainstream adoption will come sooner rather than later. With popular social media platforms featuring more crypto-related content, she’s seeing a rise in accessibility for resources. However, this also increases the risk of scams; for that, she says, “if it sounds too good to be true, it's probably not.”
We’re already seeing how applications of blockchain tech, like NFTs, are reinventing the art and fashion industries, as well as how they’re changing real-life experiences like major sporting events and concerts to make them even more interactive. The future is bright and Ana Maria is excited to see how it all plays out.
This is the beginning of the new world, she said, and it’s being built with web3 at its core.
Risk management needn't be purely a defensive approach. Instead, it can maximize revenue by increasing acceptance rates and reducing friction for legitimate customers, leading to more conversions.