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Making crypto less cryptic

crypto
“Bitcoin is doing for value what the internet did for information.”

Crypto’s combination of finance and tech ticks all the boxes for FinTech and blockchain commentator, Andy Bryant. In this episode, Andy chats with us about his passion for cryptocurrency, its past, present and future, and why for him versatility is the key to a future-proof career.

Transcript:

Speaker 1:

This is Clientside from Fox Agency. (singing).

Nathan Anibaba:

Andy Bryant is the COO of bitFlyer, Japan’s number one cryptocurrency exchange. He is an experienced C-level executive who has led companies at every stage of growth whether seed stage, rapid stage or maturing stage. With a background in tech, AI, blockchain, and FinTech. He has a unique skillset with a background in high-tech engineering, professional finance, operations, and executive management. And has lived and worked in four countries and three continents. Andy Bryant, welcome to Clientside.

Andy Bryant:

Thanks for having me.

Nathan Anibaba:

Absolutely pleasure having you. Let’s talk about your background to start, in your early career the plan was to get as much experience as you could in as many diverse areas as possible. You had an interest in robotics, maths, physics, and engineering. You credit your early direction of your career to a careers’ teacher who you met at Bath University, explain?

Andy Bryant:

That’s right. So for me like since a kid, I was always into robotics, robots, and that kind of made all of my early academic decisions quite straight forward. It was maths and physics, electronics at A-level. And then I went to university to study mechanical engineering. At the time, Bath University was one of the top for that so that’s where I went. And yeah, I guess I was studying at Bath and at Bath University, they really keen on like industrial placement. So they have like a one year industrial experience that they encourage all students to do during their undergraduate studies. And when it came to like choosing this position, I was kind of tutored by the careers counselor at Bath. And careers counselors they get a bad name for not really being that useful in terms of guiding people. But that was a really great one at the university called [Trudi Nunn 00:01:55].

Andy Bryant:

And I remember she had a chat with me and then recommended that I apply to this scholarship basically by the Royal Academy of Engineering. And at the time I didn’t really think that much of my chances, but I was fortunate enough to get to win one of these spots. And the Royal Academy of Engineering they do this engineering leadership award. I think the name might have changed by now, but that’s what it was called then. And they’d give you like a pot of money to spend on your personal development, as long as you kind of write a personal development plan first, which was also another great thing that I did for my career direction. I spent most of the money to go to Japan for three months over the summer of I think it was maybe 2007. Yeah, 2007, gosh, it’s that long ago.

Andy Bryant:

So I went to Japan for three months. I studied robotics at Tokyo Institute of Technology, TIT. Then I kind of came back and I spent the rest of the money going to the United States the following year to work for a spinoff robotics company from MIT, and then came back, graduated. And by then I had experience working in Japan I was like, wow, that was amazing. I wonder if it’s even possible to kind of live there or work there for longer term. So after I graduated somebody in my network pointed me to this other scholarship from Diawa. Diawa Securities is a large Japanese securities company, like a big financial institution. They set up a charity in the UK called the Diawa-Anglo Japanese Foundation. And every year they pick about six graduates from all subjects, not just engineering from the UK. And they give them a program to go to Japan and to study Japanese and to work at an internship relevant to their career goals.

Andy Bryant:

So again, I applied for that. I was lucky enough to get that. And by 2009, I was sat in a classroom full of Taiwanese, Chinese, Koreans, French, English like all sorts of different people learning Japanese full time. And that was interesting because the only language we had in common was Japanese so it was like fully, fully immersive. Exactly. Yeah. So, and when I finished it was… For the internship piece of that program, I was like well I could do more robotics where that kind of would be the obvious thing. But I realized that, well, this scholarship has given me the chance to kind of work somewhere. And basically I’m still being supported by the funding of the scholarship. I don’t need to like apply for a salary.

Andy Bryant:

So I thought this is a great leverage for me to sort of do something that I otherwise might not have experience in. So I thought, well, I wanted to learn more about business. I always realized that quite early on that I had this knack for explaining technical topics to non-technical people and vice versa. And I didn’t want to become like a super deep tech sort of engineer. I wanted to be somebody that kind of crossed that bridge between the commercial side and the technical side. So I was like, well, what experience could I do that embrace this principle. And so I thought, well, what about finance? What about banking? I found a job in Tokyo for a boutique investment bank. I emailed my now ex-boss and said, “Hey, you know, I don’t really have any experience in banking, but can I come and work for you for six months for free?” And he said, “Sure, why not?” And then after that internship ended I was offered a full-time contract. So I stayed there for a few years as a banker doing mergers and acquisitions for a while.

Nathan Anibaba:

So let’s talk a little bit about your banking experience then, what did you learn and what did you take away from your experience working in the financial services space and what did you learn about how the financial machine operates and is constructed?

Andy Bryant:

So the best thing about the banking experience was I wanted to acquire a broad range of commercial skills and it wasn’t just I wanted to be a banker as such. I just wanted to learn a lot of stuff fast and M&A banking was perfect for that because I’d be every deal that you work on you have to like very quickly learn to become an expert in a whole new industry. So, one minute I’ll be learning about electronic adhesives for TVs and then the next I’ll be doing luxury handbags and then it’d be Japanese buses and then it’d be like all sorts of different things like yogurt drinks. So you have to kind of learn to absorb a lot of things in a short amount of time.

Andy Bryant:

But I also got to learn about kind of pitching, valuation, financial modeling, negotiation skills like how to make a sweet looking document. So it was good for that and then in terms of the economy where like it kind of ignited a passion and interest in the mechanisms of the economic and financial infrastructure. So I wouldn’t say that I learned that necessarily on the job, but it did ignite an interest in monetary history and macro economics and things like that. And that kind of later on fed into my aha moment for crypto and cryptocurrencies, which I guess we’ll come onto shortly.

Nathan Anibaba:

Well, that’s a nice segue into bitFlyer because you joined bitFlyer in 2017. They’re one of the world’s largest Bitcoin cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as the only exchange to be regulated in Japan, the U.S. and the EU combined. Tell us a little bit more about the company and what first attracted you to them.

Andy Bryant:

Okay. Yes, so fast forward a few more years, and I’m now back from Tokyo, I’m living in London again, this is about 2013. And I’ve given you a kind of splurge about my past, but by then I’d worked in finance, I’d worked in engineering. So I had this multidisciplinary knowledge, I picked up the Bitcoin whitepaper and when I read it, it was just a massive turning point in my life. I read it and because I had the financial and the technical understanding, it just sort of came together in my mind and just totally clicked. And I was just like oh, my God this is a big deal. This is going to be very, very important. So I fell down the rabbit hole and became extremely passionate about learning as much as I could about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Andy Bryant:

And even though I was still working sort of not in crypto at that time, I started speaking publicly, I started doing all sorts of engagements to try and spread knowledge about Bitcoin. And shortly after that was when bitFlyer kind of found me. In fact, my current business partner found me on LinkedIn and he could see that I had worked as a COO before. I’d done a startup before which I sort of skipped over, but I had the entrepreneurial mindset. I knew a lot about Bitcoin and I could also speak Japanese. So they were looking for a COO for expanding a Bitcoin exchange in Europe and I was able to take that position and that’s how I ended up at bitFlyer.

Nathan Anibaba:

So before we go into and talk a little bit more about bitFlyer in more detail, let’s set the scene as far as Bitcoin and crypto is concerned because about five years ago everyone it seems was talking about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency specifically. And even though a lot of people didn’t really understand it, a lot of people invested their money which led to a lot of talk about bubbles. And then it subsequently fell away in the last couple of years, but now it’s becoming impossible to ignore again. There are a lot of mutual funds and institutional investors that are putting a lot of money and time and effort into crypto at the moment. Why is crypto and Bitcoin specifically once again come back into the mainstream?

Andy Bryant:

Oh God, there’s just so much to talk about. I don’t know if you have enough time so yeah, it’s funny, isn’t it? Because when you think about bubbles and bubbles popping it gives us this image of a one and done phenomenon like, oh, they’re still like Tulips, or it kind of inflates then it bursts and like the end, move on. And I don’t blame people for thinking that that’s what Bitcoin was because most people only started paying attention in 2017 and 2018 when the price ran up from $1,000 to $20,000 per coin. But what they didn’t really realize is that this is like the fifth or sixth time that Bitcoin has done this. It went from nothing to kind of $1 back in 2010 and then it kind of lost 80% of its value. And then it went from there to $10 and then lost 80% of its value. And then it went from there to $120 and then lost 80% of its value. And then in 2013, it went to about $1,100 and then sort of over the next few years lost 80% of its value.

Andy Bryant:

And then in 2017 it went up, so you can see a pattern emerging here, right? Like Bitcoin tends to go 10, 20, 50 times its previous price and then loses a large amount. So it’s kind of fractal pattern, right? And yet when people started paying attention in 2017, they ignored the history and they looked at what was happening. And then when the price went down, everyone threw their hands up and said, oh, well, that’s it Bitcoin is a bubble. But for those of us that are paying attention for longer, we can see that this is just a coming of age of an entirely new asset class. And there is volatility because when you’re going from zero to global phenomenon, there is going to be volatility in price in the same way that if you have, I like the analogy of if you have a dinghy floating on the open sea and you have walls of money or like big waves coming in, the dinghy will move up and down quite a lot, right? Because it can’t really absorb the energy of the wave.

Andy Bryant:

But if you have a huge supertanker, a big oil tanker and you have big waves smashing against that, it barely at all. And that in the same way, like if you have a ginormous asset classes like a Forex or stocks or bonds a large amount of money coming in and out, it’s not going to move the price of those instruments very much. But with cryptocurrency, when you get a new wave of interest, a new wave of money coming in, because it’s still a relatively small asset class it has a lot of effect on the price. Bitcoin at the moment, there’s only about, I think it’s coming close to a trillion dollars in market cap.

Andy Bryant:

To put that in perspective, that’s like a fraction of Apple, is a fraction of a single company on the stock exchanges. It’s only like a few Bill Gates. It’s only a few Warren Buffets for the entire Bitcoin market cap. And yet, like you compare that to gold, which has 10 to 12 trillion, you’ve got stocks which are sort of 90 to 100 trillion. I might be slightly off, but like this is rough ballpark. You’ve got property markets which is 100, 200 trillion. You’ve got bonds, which are even bigger and you’ve got derivatives markets, which is like a one quadrillion in size. So Bitcoin is still a drop in the ocean, but it’s growing very, very fast.

Andy Bryant:

And I’ll come back to your question, why is it making a Renaissance now? Well, the difference is that in the last few years, the career risk of recommending Bitcoin as an investment, if you’re a fund manager, or if you’re pension fund manager, if you’re working in a treasury department of a company Bitcoin has passed the resilience test is definitely sort of it’s here to stay. And while a few years ago, you might’ve been laughed out of the room, if you’d suggested that we put a fraction of the fund or the fraction of the company’s reserves in Bitcoin. Now it’s becoming more normalized and the career risk of suggesting that it’s fallen away so more and more people are suggesting it, that’s the first thing.

Andy Bryant:

Second thing is that the macro economic backdrop is completely different to a few years ago. We’ve got this COVID is obviously happening. People are worried about recession, potentially even a depression. Meanwhile, there was more money created in the U.S. economy in one month last year as in the 200 years of entire U.S. history. So like money is being printed so much and so fast and people are actually finally starting to say, “Well, hang on a minute, what will be the long effects of this huge unfettered, uncapped monetary expansion?” And Bitcoin as a kind of apolitical, global, new store of value is finally starting to come of age as a potential diversifying tool.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s really interesting because there’s been increasing pushback from, I would say mainstream millennials and younger people who are taking issue with the way that the financial system is structured and how the richer are getting richer and the poor is seemingly getting poorer. And we’re seeing that with recent news stories, GameStop, Tesla, et cetera. But before we get into that, let’s talk a little bit more about what Bitcoin is like help us understand what it is. Because it’s not a currency in the traditional way that we think about a currency. You can’t buy a loaf of bread with it, at least not yet. It doesn’t seem to serve the purposes that money serves in the traditional way. So what is it and how should people be thinking about it? Because I think that’s what’s led to a lot of confusion from a lot of the mainstream.

Andy Bryant:

Right. So the thing is about Bitcoin is it kind of eclectic mix of various decades old technologies that all come together in a beautiful harmony to represent a new form of money. And as a result, it’s not easy to understand. It’s really not easy to fully understand exactly how it works. And so naturally people focus on the easy thing to focus on which is just the price. So everyone looks at the price, they see the price going up and going down. They don’t take the time to invest and fully understanding how it works. And so they kind of dismiss it like a gambling tool or something to speculate on or sort of Tulip mania, or whatever. I’ve got to admit I was the same when I first came across it in 2012, I was like, “Okay. Well, this is just like some internet money for nerds.”

Andy Bryant:

I dismissed it like everyone else until I read the whitepaper a year later, I was like, “Okay, I get it. This is is very interesting.” Now over the years the narrative of what it is, what it isn’t does sort of evolve. Like it started off as just a tool like a way of buying things online, on the dark markets and depending on who you ask Bitcoin is either like a payment system or sort of gold 2.0 or a store of value, or it’s a network, or it’s [inaudible 00:16:42]. In reality, it’s all of those things. But if I was to summarize it in one line, I would say Bitcoin is a global, apolitical, a decentralized store of value which allows you to send value from anywhere in the world to anywhere else like peer to peer, without the need to use an intermediary or like a centralized banking institution.

Andy Bryant:

So like while now all of our money’s involved sort of commercial and central banks, all of our transactions somehow I have to go through these trusted third parties. And they sit on that, they take a fee for doing that and they can arbitrarily freeze your payments or they can put limits on what you do. And they take a hefty fee for doing that and they have no incentivization or no reason to innovate, it’s like a rent extracting business. Whereas Bitcoin kind of breaks that mold and it allows anyone in the world to innovate on top of it. And it’s kind of doing for value what the internet did for information. And the narrative is still continuing to evolve, I’d say right now the most popular one is that it’s actually a store of value and it’s not a payment system.

Andy Bryant:

It’s not a currency, which is a problem because the word cryptocurrency itself then becomes a misnomer, because people think but you can’t buy anything with it so it’s not working. But really you can’t buy anything with gold coins either. You can’t buy anything with all sorts of stores of value. So I’d say that like sort of the new version of gold with all the benefits of gold, but with none of the downsides of gold is probably the strongest analogy I could say right now.

Nathan Anibaba:

And that apolitical point that you made is really important as well, because I think initially a lot of people bought into crypto, especially because I guess they saw it as a way of usurping the traditional banking system and sort of disintermediating established authority. Talk a little bit about that.

Andy Bryant:

So I think like the roots of Bitcoin is it popped up for the first time in that kind of crypto-anarchist forum online, the Cypherpunks. And they were all about like, “We don’t need government we can do it all ourselves and so on.” Which is fair enough if you have that mindset. I think it’s kind of outgrown that now is kind of gone through the adolescent stage of its growth. And yes, it does disintermediate banks potentially, although funnily now banks are now kind of bringing it back on board and saying, we’re going to custody Bitcoin for our clients so it’s kind of going full circle. But for others it seems there was so many people around the world that simply can’t access banking services at all.

Andy Bryant:

So we in the West, we enjoy deposit accounts and interest and we can get loans and credit. We can buy stocks and bonds on our apps, on our phones. But actually like the other five, 6 billion people around the world that can’t do that at all. If you are in certain parts of Africa or Asia, you can’t open a bank account, you can’t transact, you can’t take credit, you can’t grow a business, you can’t do any of that stuff. So now they’re given a technology where all they need is a solar panel and a mobile phone, and they can accept payments from anywhere in the world. And they can start to engage with decentralized finance, which we’ll talk about later. That’s a game changing technology. It’s going to leapfrog banking just like how in Africa they leapfrogged landline phones they went straight to mobile. So for many like Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is a form of empowerment. It’s a form of social and economic empowerment for many people who don’t have access to the financial services that we enjoy.

Nathan Anibaba:

So what factors will stop it from becoming a mainstream sort of asset class that we all use to transact on? What will stop that future from materializing in your mind?

Andy Bryant:

So typically the sovereignty of money creation has been enjoyed by the central banks and governments. And I don’t necessarily see that changing. I don’t subscribe to this view that Bitcoin is going to put all of the central banks out of business. No, I honestly think it’s going to co-exist alongside Fiat currencies where for earning and for paying our taxes and for all of the government services they provide, they will still like to have some control over monetary policy. And they will like to require those things to be done in their own currencies. Because one answer to your question is some people say, well, won’t the governments just ban it. I don’t think they’re going to ban it because I don’t think it threatens that deeply the monopoly of state power over money. I think they can both coexist.

Andy Bryant:

I think some states may decide to crack down hard on it, but I mean, it’s happened over the last 10 years. You’ve got various countries come out and say, “We’re banning Bitcoin.” Then they unban it then they ban it again. And this is such a big phenomenon. This is such a powerful growing technology, if a country does ban Bitcoin or ban the ownership of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, that innovation is just going to move elsewhere. And no one wants to be the one that misses the boat again like they missed the boat on Silicon Valley and the internet. Exactly. So I don’t see that being a particular issue. I think the volatility will gradually cool down over the next few years. I don’t think it’s going to continue to do these huge spikes and huge losses, but right now that does put some people off.

Andy Bryant:

And then, like I said before, it’s hard to understand. It’s hard to really know how to keep your own funds safe if you choose to take custody of your own Bitcoin. So I think we’re going to have to wait for a bit longer to see more of these companies pop up that takes care of all of the security and all of the key management and all of the protection of your funds for you. Because right now it’s still like you have to got to be quite tech savvy to know how to look after your funds, but we’re already seeing that happen.

Andy Bryant:

Because that’s the thing about Bitcoin, it’s not like if you lose your private keys, which is the kind of the authority to spend your Bitcoin, if you lose that, or if that gets taken away, that’s it. Your funds are gone forever. They can be stolen you’ll never ever get them back. There’s no phone number you can call and say, hey, my car has been stolen like please return the funds. That’s like one of the few benefits of centralized banking and that’s why we pay 20% API on our credit cards. So yeah, that puts a lot of people off is a bit scary, if you want to look after your Bitcoin, if you don’t know what you’re doing you kind of lose them. But again, like that’s an issue that I think is very, very quickly becoming abstracted away as more and more service providers emerge that help people take care of their crypto funds.

Nathan Anibaba:

We might need to wait a bit longer as you just said, was that an intentional pun or was that an accident? Last question about this because I’m fascinated before we talk a little bit about bitFlyer. You’re really excited about DeFi technology or decentralized finance. Explain what that is for the audience and for me please and why are you so excited about it?

Andy Bryant:

Okay. So, that’s going back to the story of when I was reading the whitepaper. I was sat on a double-decker bus near White Chapel. And it wasn’t the first application that was getting me excited. I mean, yes, it’s really, really cool to have a decentralized currency or decentralized store of value. But when I fully understand the blockchain, but when I understood that blockchain was basically a way of facilitating like digital scarcity in a world of digital abundance, I was like, wow, this goes way beyond money. This goes to like this is going to disrupt so many industries like any situation where you need to rely on some escrow or some third party, whether it’s like property transactions or whether it’s any form of instruments that you don’t want to have copied and pasted basically, blockchain can be the answer for that. It could be identity. It could be election voting rights. It could be all sorts of different things.

Andy Bryant:

And so I was like, wow, okay, this is going to take a while to materialize, but the blockchain is going… It’s one of the few times when I could actually see the next 20 years of technological development as I sit here now. So for DeFi is the natural next step of blockchain. DeFi means decentralized finance, it has grown from less than 100 million like just over a year ago or maybe a year and a half ago to 50, $60 billion in kind of size just in the last 12 months is phenomenal growth, phenomenal, phenomenal growth. And what DeFi is basically first you have your Bitcoin or your cryptocurrency layer, on top of that, you already have this emergence of so-called smart contracts, which are basically like programmable money layer that you can put on top. So the kind of if this happens then do that and that can be hosted on the blockchain. So you can have business logic basically, business logic taking place like on a decentralized layer on the blockchain.

Andy Bryant:

And what smart contracts that you do is start to reinvent financial primitives like on this new financial system. So everything that we do on traditional finance like lending, trading, like interests bearing assets, like all of these things, they’re all now being reinvented on the blockchain. Why is that important? Well, it’s because this has been done by a whole army of smart guys who are just sat in their bedroom, writing protocols which a few weeks later are handling hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions and funding. We no longer have to wait for traditional FinTech or traditional banks to invent something new.

Andy Bryant:

We haven’t really had that much innovation coming out of traditional finance since the credit card or even apps today, yeah, it’s like you get a nice looking app, but it’s basically built on the same kind of aging financial infrastructure. Whereas with DeFi you can take that innovation, you can move it to the edges. You can answer anyone in a permission this way can build new stuff on top of this financial system. So we’re getting like an exponential change in new things that are being invented. Right now, we’re kind of catching up to traditional finance, but it’s sort of reinventing all of the traditional things that I mentioned. But it also enables new things, new things that we’ve never heard of before like the ability to take out loans with no collateral as long as you pay them back in the same instant as using them.

Andy Bryant:

So I don’t want to get too technical here, but long story short we’re going to see the reinvention of traditional financial primitives and the emergence of brand new ones that were never before possible. And in the same way, like the internet 20 years ago, we would have never imagined Facebook, Amazon, Netflix. You still have to type in IP addresses to send someone an email. And people thought that the internet meant taking like a newspaper and PDFing it and then just putting that on a web page. But like the internet has obviously grown into something much, much bigger and interesting. And that’s purely because like the innovation was decentralized and like anyone could build on top of it. Now that the same thing is finally happening in finance. So, this like thousands of years old technology of money is finally kind of breaking free from its shackles. And that’s why I’m so excited because I don’t think people quite realize how quickly this is going to change things and how quickly finance is going to evolve after this flashpoint which has happened in the last 12 months.

Nathan Anibaba:

So, isn’t that similar to what open banking and PSD2 has done in the UK here, where the regulators have basically said, look, let’s decentralize this and let’s give the power to everyone to have this data from the big banks. And then they can build amazing products and services off the back of it. And that’s why we have the proliferation of all the FinTech apps that we have today, ClearScore, Monzo, Starling, go down the list. Is that a similar thing that we’re talking about here, but just on a larger scale?

Andy Bryant:

I’d say that’s a stepping stone, but I mean, yes. So open banking has enabled people to access data. That’s great. It means you can have new apps to tell you what you’re spending, what your budget is, you can get better credit scores and things like that. But if you kind of go down the stack, take away the fancy app, take away the UX, take away the you know… And then you keep going deeper and deeper you end up at the same place. You end up in the decades’ old financial infrastructure, the SWIFT network and things like that. Yeah you can make things easier to use, but there’s a limit to what you can achieve. Ultimately, the value is still being instructed and moved on the same centralized system.

Andy Bryant:

So no one could come along with open banking and say, I want to have a new type of collateral for loans, or I want to innovate, I want to make a new way of taking the money that I’ve put into my mortgage and maybe taking some of that equity and lending it to this guy. And he can like use it to do [crosstalk 00:29:44] all that stuff is like it’s all still within the domain of your lenders, your financial institutions, and they will have board of directors, they will have shareholders, they’ll always need to make profit. Whereas in DeFi there are people that are building these things and they’re putting them out there and they’re kind of throwing away the key and you’re getting these sort of systems which are completely free to use and people are using them to invest and lend and trade things like that.

Andy Bryant:

And there’s no profit incentive in many of these cases, there just some people who are just building these things that work. And the innovation is not restricted by some of the incentive structures that exist in traditional capitalism. So we’re seeing not just like a re-imagined of money and finance, we’re seeing a reinvention completely of how social capital and economic capital converges. So this is why, again, like I’m starting to go a bit out there now, but like it’s really going to change the way that economy and societies organize themselves, in my opinion.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really, really exciting. Thanks for sharing that. Okay. Last couple of questions about a bitFlyer, and then we’ll get into some of our favorite questions at the end. As you think about the next chapter of the business’s evolution, what do you think is the most effective next chapter as far as you see the growth of the business and the exchange space in general, and what are the things that are going to stop that from materializing, do you think?

Andy Bryant:

So at bitFlyer, our business is an exchange. So just like a kind of stock exchange where you might buy and sell stocks and shares in companies, we help people buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So, our business model is to connect people together, to connect buyers and sellers together so that they can trade with each other. Then we take a small commission from that trade. And we also have a business where we act as a brokerage where people can buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly from us and we maintain our own inventory. And that’s the more of the retail-focused business. For us, the next steps is to try and keep on top of this like rapidly developing DeFi ecosystem. Because trading is a noble business, it’s starting to become more commoditized as more players enter this space.

Andy Bryant:

So it’s companies like bitFlyer and the real crypto native institutions that really have a good handle on where this is going. So while we see entry from the big banks and the big exchanges and slowly and slowly enter Bitcoin trading, all of this new stuff with DeFi and alt-coins and all these hundreds of other assets that’s still a bit too futuristic for the old guard. So I see the trend in crypto exchanges like us is to embrace and engage with some of these emerging new technologies and new assets. So that means that listing new coins, it means giving people new ways to earn on their funds like for instance, allowing them to take rewards from their deposits and that instead of 0.01% interest we can pay five, six, seven, 10% interest on certain holdings.

Andy Bryant:

So it’s definitely more than the inflation of your… Or the kind of reduction in purchasing power of your money in other senses. So that’s the kind of, that’s the future for us. And I think the headwinds are still sort of education, how to actually get people to get off what do they call it? Get off zero, which means they just buy your first little bit of cryptocurrency, for many people that’s quite a big step, once they dip their toes in, then they start to get more interested and they see the prices and they read more about what’s going on. But getting from zero to one I still think that’s our job. So our job is to get crypto into the hands of as many people as possible.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. I’ve learned a ton about crypto and Bitcoin and DeFi from this conversation, so thank you very much for sharing that with us. Final question before we let you go, what advice would you give to other aspiring millennials or young people who also want to follow a similar career path in crypto, DeFi and the emerging new financial system?

Andy Bryant:

So, my background was obviously been quite unconventional in a sense, but for me it was always deliberate. For me, it was like I recognized early on that the way things are changing, the way things are moving, the rapid advancement of technology is going to touch all industries, even the usage of the word like tech company. I think like all companies are going to need to be tech companies like in the future. So those people that are kind of thinking about their career and what they’re going to do all I say is like expect the unexpected. Things are going to change faster than we realize. The thing about humans is we tend to think linearly, we tend to look at the rate of progression of the last 10 years and then extrapolate the same rate of progression into the future. But as Bill Gates famously said we tend to overestimate what’s going to happen in the next two years, but vastly underestimate what’s going to happen in the next 10.

Andy Bryant:

So if it was me, if I was young again I would not be betting my whole career on learning one thing in a lot of depth. Because that thing might change in five or 10 years time. I think the successful people of tomorrow will be the people that are multidisciplinary. The people that learn how to connect disparate systems in sort of new ways. People who are creative, people who are collaborative, because those are the people who will be able to adapt quicker and be more resilient to the winds of change. And I think again that those winds of change are going to be like much stronger than we imagined.

Andy Bryant:

So sure, find things that you like, passionate about, and sort of spend a bit more time specializing in that, but don’t bet everything on one technology, don’t bet everything on one industry even, don’t spend 10 years becoming an expert in the product of some other company that just like you happen to be really, really good at their tool, because what happens if something happens to that company, to that tool.

Andy Bryant:

So, it sounds a bit vague, but I guess any knowledge-based profession, anything that just requires a lot of knowledge about one thing I think is sort of slightly risky career path. I’m not a marketer through and through like I’m more of a generalists. So I feel like a bit of an impostor talking about specifically what marketers do. I do know about marketing because in my role as a general manager I need to understand all those different marketing mix and budget and the difference between different channels. But what I’d say is the more versatile you can be the more future-proof your career will be.

Nathan Anibaba:

Great place to end. Andy, thank you so much for doing this.

Andy Bryant:

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, I’ve enjoyed it.

Nathan Anibaba:

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