TL;DR: Leading spot and derivatives cryptocurrency exchange OKEx Director of Financial Markets, Lennix Lai, gave himself over to an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on the Bitcoin Cash-centric subreddit, r/BTC, recently. Lai is a decade-long finance and investment veteran eager to help bridge the gap of understanding between Bitcoiners in China and the West.
OKEx Director of Financial Markets Attempts to Bridge Gap Between China & West
Lennix Lai spent most of his professional life deep in investment finance, specializing in high-frequency trading, asset management, front-to-back trading operation, risk management, and compliance with the likes of JPMorgan and AIG. At Malta-based OKEx, his role is product development, enhancing customer experience, and improving the overall platform.
Founded in 2017, OKEx jumped at the chance to domicile offshore in 2018, as it were, taking advantage of the island nation’s notorious warming to financial technology. Not too long after it was routinely breaking turnover and volume records. It remains one of the best-known exchanges of its kind in the world, providing hundreds of token and futures trading pairs, ranking among the top digital asset exchanges by trading volume, serving over 100 countries.
The first half of 2020 has been a solid one PR wise for the exchange. It recently announced users can buy BTC and ETH with the Argentine peso (ARS), Brazilian real (BRL), and the Mexican peso (MXN) through a direct bank transfer, a huge play for Latin American markets. That came after partnering with Paxful, hoping to give 100 million users access to payment methods involving “more than 160 fiat currencies including the Turkish lira, the Indian rupee, and the Argentine peso, using convenient local payment methods.” It’s also branching out and into decentralized finance by listing popular token COMP.
One of the Most Crypto-Advanced Countries
Asked about the current state of the Chinese market Lai explained, “China is obviously one of the most crypto-advanced countries across market size, participants, miners, blockchain/crypto startups, blockchain/crypto media, and specialized event manager. Local Chinese somehow heard of and engaged with crypto before. The govt is known to be very supportive of blockchain tech coupled with actual policies and guidelines. State-owned enterprises are actively creating their blockchain team and task forces so as to looking for the best-fit use cases of blockchain within their organization,” he noted.
Bitcoin mining is always a hot topic when it comes to China, and after the recent halving many in the ecosystem want to know about its fate as smaller miners are seemingly being pushed out due to the sheer economics of the situation. “I believe smaller-sized miners might have to pivot to speculative mining due to halving and a need for replacing equipment,” Lai answered. “Some of them might be looking to re-finance for this CAPEX. We see a surge in demand on mining finance recently and I think that’s the reason.” CapEx is typically so-called capital expenditure: company funds to acquire, upgrade, maintain physical assets, and for new investment generally.
Regarding the sluggish pace of adoption, Lai is encouraged, in a way, by the “increasing uncertainty of today’s world, especially in the financial market,” which “is doing us a favor in promoting bitcoin and crypto. In addition, despite the fact that we do have a lot of interesting ideas and innovations, we do need more adoption [on] a world-wide scale. But I know it’s happening – slowly but surely.” And as for the current pandemic and its impact on China, in particular, Lai stressed how bitcoin “is a well-known crypto-asset in China. And you can imagine since China is obviously one of the most crypto-advanced countries across market size, participants, miners, blockchain/crypto startups, blockchain/crypto media, and specialized event/marketing agent.”
BTC vs. BCH
Of course, no AMA on China would be complete without a question about the country’s rumored plans for a central bank digital currency. “China’s DCEP [(Digital Currency Electronic Payment)] is a centralized digital currency issued most likely by the PBOC [(Peoples Bank of China)] – the central bank in China,” he pointed out. “DCEP is expected to be distributed by state-owned bank onto its account holder. The beauty of DCEP, I think, is its potential application on the impact of M1. DCEP is also benefited to implementing monetary policies at a micro-level and regulatory oversight.”
And because the crowd interview was held on a Bitcoin Cash-friendly subreddit, the inevitable question about BTC vs. BCH made its way into the discussion. As for Lai’s prediction 5 years down the road for Bitcoin Cash, he answered, “BCH shall strengthen its key difference in faster transactions and lower fees comparing with bitcoin rather than a direct competitor with bitcoin. Bitcoin is the pioneer and it’s a brand. And bitcoin is gradually behaving like a digital collectible and becoming a widely-endorsed alternative asset class. The road of BCH shall be different.”
Pressed about BTC in the same manner, Lai mused, “It’s too early to say whether or not BTC will live up [to] its vision by becoming a global medium of exchange/payment. Yet we know bitcoin is a project/achievement of humanity that we can all benefit. And bitcoin can only be survived and prosper should we continue to dedicate our effort collectively.”
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DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.