Starting a Career in Traditional Finance ‘Is a Risk’ in 2019, Says Liquid CEO
Technology and shifting customer demographics are disrupting traditional banking so much that “there’s a risk” in attempting to enter the industry these days, says Liquid.com and QUOINE CEO Mike Kayamori. He commented on how attitudes towards cryptocurrency and fintech have shifted in the past decade — just weeks after his company achieved billion-dollar “unicorn” valuation status with a Series C deal.
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Kayamori made the remarks at a roundtable event on fintech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo this week. The topic was fintech’s place in the finance industry and its outlook for the future.
Liquid.com closed a Series C deal on April 3rd, 2019 led by IDG Capital. The deal made it one of only two technology “unicorns” — startup companies with a billion-dollar valuation or more — in Japan.
‘Digitization Will Never Go Back’
Kayamori affirmed long-held opinions that the future for fintech and cryptocurrency is in mainstream finance, and that crypto companies would co-operate with the traditional sector rather than compete with it.
That said, the two relatively new industries represented a massive disruption to the traditional finance industry. Factors like mobile devices and online services, A.I. trading, and the key user base of millennials made careers in crypto and fintech far more attractive than regular banking. Old-school brokerages now have an average customer age in their 60s and 70s, he said.
“When I first started in this industry people thought I was getting into money laundering,” Kayamori added. “But now a majority of the people I do business with are in the mainstream finance industry.”
“Digitzation (of finance) will never go back.” The shift in attitudes and demographics is such that “there’s a risk in going into traditional banking” these days, he said.
QUOINE started in 2013 and launched its exchange in Japan just months after the Mt. Gox crisis. It now operates the Liquid exchange and was the first to gain a Financial Services Agency operating license organically (i.e.: not via acquisition or merger) in 2017.
Japan’s ‘Holistic’ Approach to Cryptocurrency Regulation
Kayamori said Japan had led the way with its approach to regulating the cryptocurrency industry, and noted the country had led the way as the first economic powerhouse to legislate on the issue.
This was likely prompted by the February 2014 Mt. Gox shutdown, which brought unwanted attention both to bitcoin and Japan. The ongoing legal fallout still plagues the industry there.
Japan’s “holistic” approach to cryptocurrency — in which it has attempted to improve security/reporting standards and research potential use cases — is “a polar opposite” to countries like the U.S., he said. U.S. regulators instead prefer to use classic definitions of securities and currencies to regulate crypto assets and exchanges.
Singapore, another financial center in the Asian region and QUOINE’s headquarters in its early years, “is somewhere in between”.
Liquid Aims to Provide… Liquidity
As an exchange, the role for QUOINE/Liquid is to provide the industry with necessary liquidity to trade the various assets, he said. As cryptocurrency has evolved, this has come to emcompass “pure cryptos” like bitcoin, utility and security tokens, stablecoins and even others like loyalty points.
Sustaining a liquid market is imperative as both users and businesses seek to trade these various assets — hence the company’s name shift.
Liquid also launched its own cryptocurrency called QASH in 2017, an ERC20-based utility token for use as a trading pair and to pay for services on QUOINE’s network.
It raised over $100 million in its November 2017 initial sale, Asia’s largest ICO at the time. Other exchanges, such as Binance, have since launched their own tokens to fulfil similar roles.
Do you agree that crypto and fintech are becoming finance’s mainstream? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Bitsonline, Jon Southurst