There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of Digital Currencies, hearing from Richard Ells, Haipo Yang, Alessandro Zamboni and Basil Al Askari on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Since Bitcoin came on the scene in 2009, thousands of unique cryptocurrencies have cropped up all over the world. At first, being a relatively niche market, they are now gaining popularity in peoples every day lives with a number of fintechs offering solutions like crypto wallets and ways to pay for groceries and bills with digital currencies. In this View from the Top, companies Electroneum, Coinex, [email protected] and MidChains outline their own 2020 experience.
Richard Ells is the founder and CEO of Electroneum, one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies globally, with nearly 4.1 million registered users. In his opinion, 2020 has sped up the move to cashless societies, increasing the interest in cryptocurrencies.
“This 2020 saw a very unexpected DeFi boom that shook up the entire crypto market, prompting many existing cryptocurrency projects to evaluate whether they should venture into decentralised finance. We have experienced the start of a Bitcoin bull run that saw its price flirting with the $16,000 level. BTC dominance also increased to 64.2%, the highest since May 2020. The market’s total cap rose to just over $450 billion on 11 November, the highest level since March 2018.
“This year has been forever marked by the Covid-19 crisis, which, ironically, was a defining moment for crypto as it sped up society’s path toward becoming cashless. 2020 also saw an increased interest from governments in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). in several countries worldwide.
“For Electroneum, next year will be the year we consolidate our cryptocurrency among the five most accessible cryptos with more real-world use cases. We also have plans to continue expanding mobile phone and electricity top-ups to more countries and introduce in-app, online purchases of food, construction materials, and paid TV, among other many things. We also have plans to introduce many more ways for people to earn ETN as we continue to help with financial inclusion worldwide.”
Haipo Yang is the Founder and CEO of ViaBTC, a startup dedicated to cryptocurrency, and CoinEx, a cryptocurrency trading platform for global users. He agrees with Richard and believes the industry will become stronger as a result of 2020.
“The pandemic has caused a panic in the market, which was also a good stress test on the crypto industry. High leveraged investors were forced out, and some exchanges were also affected and shut down. The entire market became healthier and more stable.
“The mining industry will become more prosperous because of the bull market. Due to stricter regulations, over-the-counter transactions will shrink, making deposits and withdrawals of fiat currencies more difficult. Also, due to regulatory issues, practitioners are turning to develop overseas markets.
“DeFi will continue to flourish. More traditional mainstream investors and funds will turn to Bitcoin. The proportions of derivatives such as contracts and options will get higher.”
Basil Al Askari is the Co-Founder and CEO of MidChains, an upcoming digital asset multilateral trading facility (MTF) and custodian based in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). He has also experienced an increased interest in nontraditional assets, including digital currencies.
“We are incredibly excited to launch one of the first fully regulated virtual asset trading venues and custodians in the MENA region. We have observed both institutional and retail investor appetite in the region shifting away from traditional assets to alternative assets including digital currency, digital securities, stablecoins and other innovative electronically tradable investment products for portfolio diversification.
“The region has a huge population of young adults in the Millennial and Gen-Z brackets (both local and expatriate) who these types of products appeal to the most. Additionally, the forward-thinking regulations from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market adds necessary oversight to activities conducted in the space at a global institutional standard. In the UAE, government support for financial innovation is well known to the public; MidChains is one of the few Virtual Asset infrastructure companies in the world to have a direct investment from two sovereign wealth funds (Mubadala and ADQ) which demonstrates the commitment and confidence in us to deliver on our long-term growth strategy in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision to further develop global financial markets in the UAE’s capital.”
Alessandro Zamboni is the founder and CEO of [email protected], an independent fintech company providing an innovative proprietary inventory monetisation service to companies in a wide range of industrial sectors. Alessandro thinks that the year has shown the importance of inventory monetisation.
“Coronavirus has undoubtedly made 2020 a challenging year, however, the last 9 months have clearly demonstrated the important role of inventory monetisation for stock-rich companies, from car parts and fashion to metals manufacturers and vineyards. [email protected] has helped European firms to solve immediate cash flow problems by monetising stockpiles for which there is no immediate buyer, underpinned by our proprietary blockchain platform.
“This year, [email protected] listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and agreed with a major global asset manager to roll out a securitisation that will raise inventory monetisation for UK businesses. In the last two months alone, [email protected] secured so much interest from investors in the US that we launched our platform there, in collaboration with founder and CEO of The Trade Advisory, Anthony Brown, earlier than planned.
“Next year, we believe interest in our unique inventory monetisation platform will grow, whichever way the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds. On one hand, economic difficulty could ensue and companies will be unable to immediately sell their stock, while on the other, trading conditions may stabilise and companies will have to ramp up their operations with gusto to meet their peaks, like Christmas and New Year demand.”