Cryptocurrency: what it is, what it does, and where it is going.
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
The Alumni Voice Volume 4
By Iskander Malikov, Class of 2011
Director at Binance, formerly COO at TradingView
After graduating from Regent’s in 2011 I decided to pursue a career in technology as I’ve always been passionate about start-ups.
Since graduating, I’ve split my time between London and Moscow, and have worked in a variety of capacities. Finance and tech have always been areas of interest to me, and after taking a private equity and venture capital class at Regent’s I knew I was on the right track.
Regent’s made a substantial contribution to my career development. Regent’s taught me how to tackle challenges, solve problems, and work in a creative and efficient manner. What helped me become a team player is the diverse network of students – you realize how little you know about other cultures and the way things are done in other countries which is both a humbling and essential learning experience.
Fast forward 9 years and I’m now with Binance, a crypto exchange which is the largest in the space by trading volume. Prior to Binance, I served as Chief Operating Officer at TradingView – an all-in-one financial platform for self-directed traders and investors. Crypto, and bitcoin in particular, is becoming increasingly popular and I think it’s important to understand what crypto is and what it is contributing to the “perfect storm” and boosting its growth and adoption. Fundamentally, cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency issued by a public network that uses cryptography for sending/receiving payments. What this means is that when traditional assets or currencies such as the U.S. Dollar are losing value investors start looking for alternative assets such as gold or bitcoin (which is often called ‘digital gold’). It does have a variety of application e.g. savings and cross border payments.
Wall Street’s institutional support for crypto is starting to materialize. Huge investment banks are entering the stable coin space.
Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges for both individuals and businesses across different economic sectors, however, crypto activity has been on the rise. To put it simply, we now have a lot more people sitting in front of their computers looking for alternative asset classes to invest in.
Demand from emerging peer-to-peer markets – there is enormous demand for crypto in many emerging economies, especially those suffering from high inflation rates.
New fiat gateways – this is something that I personally spend most of my time on. Most people still hold their funds in fiat currencies, so we must provide them with cost efficient and easy-to-use channels to be able to access crypto. For example, PayPal recently announced its plans to provide access to crypto so we are looking at 300 million+ active users. When businesses of this size enter the space, others are likely to follow suit which will inevitably “grow the pie” for everyone.
I think it’s important to note that large crypto exchanges, where most of the crypto assets are traded, evolved from simple trading venues to complete ecosystems with a suite of products designed with different kinds of traders and investors in mind. For example, throughout Europe, and even sometimes emerging markets, we are seeing very low or negative interest rates offered by traditional high street banks. Savings and other passive income products that our team is developing offer interest rates that are far superior compared to traditional banks and financial institutions. To make things even easier, we are planning to issue debit cards to let users spend crypto at millions of merchants across the globe. Crypto, as well as fintech in general (the line between these 2 is becoming increasingly blurred), is creating a new alternative ecosystem which is very positive, as it gives the freedom of choice to the end user. Whether it’s a new open banking platform, public or private blockchain, or a new mobile app that lets users save on cross border payments - it’s the end user that benefits from competition. If you are working in the crypto sector, and wish to contribute to continuing this conversation with fellow Regent’s alumni, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear and share your insights.