Ariel Ling, co-founder and COO of BitMax, has shared her thoughts on the current state of digital assets and what to expect in the next years, what retail investor should take into account when buying any cryptocurrencie and the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin.submitted by BitMax_Support to BitMax [link] [comments]
Ariel Ling, BitMax COO
Why, when and how have you started your crypto journey?
I started my crypto journey at the beginning of 2018 when my long-time friend, the co-founder and CEO of BitMax.io, Dr. George Cao “pulled” me out of the traditional Wall Street and asked me to join him in launching this exciting venture. Three main drivers are 1) to learn more about blockchain technology and its transformational applications in different industries; 2) to leverage in-depth traditional finance expertise to improve overall crypto trading and exchange market structure for better efficiency and transparency; 3) to have a chance to work with a talented and driven team who share similar vision, passion and conviction to build a top global digital asset trading platform as well as a wonderful organization from good to great!
If your friend will ask you: should I consider cryptocurrencies as investment opportunity? What will be your answer? Will you recommend any specific digital asset?
Coming from traditional finance perspective, I would explain my thoughts process from three angles — 1) types of crypto or digital assets as the foundation for understanding; 2) whether they, are more for short-term trading or mid-term investment 2) what are elements for investment valuation and decision-making so our friends can assess and make decision for themselves.
First, in general there are three types of digital assets:
Second: is digital asset good for trading or investment? due to the nascent nature and very short history of market development with most of retail investors’ participation and lack of proper regulatory framework globally, there are quite some market manipulation, speculation and fraud activities in the current market, causing significant volatility and investors loss across all types within very short period of time. This made it very hard for any investors to assess the real valuation and momentum drivers behind those large swings. So at this point, I would think with its high volatility and risk, digital asset in general is more of very short-term trading product than investment vehicle. From liquidity perspective, major currency/coin-type will have more market depth across exchanges, hence more suitable for short-term trading-focused strategies.
Third, from traditional investment perspective, it is critical to assess digital asset investing from valuation and fundamental perspectives, such as business model, future growth, economic return vs. person’s risk tolerance and investment objectives. For major coins, especially Bitcoin itself with its longest history among all the digital assets, have started to provide certain payment function similar to fiat currencies in certain countries. Hence, there are more interesting dynamics to the Bitcoin investing based on one’s view of Bitcoin usage over mid-term horizon and the relative valuation vs its production (mining cost) especially with the price down to 3,500–3,650 USD. For security-type or utility tokens, the performance over short-to-medium term really comes down to combination of intrinsic value of underlying blockchain projects and token economics. Similar to Internet in 1990s, blockchain technology projects are still at the early stage of development and looking for meaningful and applicable use cases to bring real economic benefit from the economics and business model perspective, so it becomes very difficult to apply traditional finance valuation and assess the real intrinsic value of those projects. Recent market crash has brought many of those tokens down to near zero value. So the investment in those tokens are extremely high risk and everyone should be really careful and prudent in the evaluation of any specific projects for the decision-making and risk protection.
What is the story behind BitMax? Who are the foundefounders? When it was founded?
Q1 2018, Dr. George Cao and I founded Global Digital Mercantile (GDM), global operator of digital asset platforms, including BitMax.io based on Singapore for overseas markets and North America’s trading platform aiming for the first half of 2019. BitMax.io started public beta testing mid July, 2018, and was officially launched later mid August. On November 18th , we launched our mining mechanism, the industry very first transaction-mining & reverse-mining mechanism, which has made us the industry leading third-generation cryptocurrency exchange — after first generation of traditional exchanges like Binance, Gemini, Coinbase, etc. and 2nd generation of transaction-mining ones like FCoin, Bitthumb, etc.
Just a quick introduction of my partner. Dr. Cao studied Computer Science in the University of Science and Technology of China, and earned his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. Dr. Cao was the Founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Delpha Capital Management, LLC., New York, specializing in trading equity, ETFs and commodity future products in all major exchanges across the globe. He is also the founder and managing partner of Whitestone Investment Group, a New York based venture fund that invests in a large variety of startup companies that are in the high tech, fintech, big data and medical area. Before founding Delpha Capital, Mr. Cao worked at the Equity Division of Barclays Capital in both the New York and London offices. During that period, he oversaw equity electronic trading in the U.S., European and Asian markets. Prior to Barclays, he researched and traded U.S. equity as a Portfolio Manager at Knight Capital Group.
For me, I have built more than 18-year extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, financial risk management and regulatory implementation across major trading asset classes (Equity, FX, and Fixed Income) at several top global banks. Previous to jumping into digital asset trading, I ran USD liquidity and investment product for top financial institutions and corporate clients at tier-one global investment bank. Before that, I ran US Broker Dealer as COO and head of Business Development for Germany 2nd largest bank. Earlier from 2007 to 2012, I was global equity trading COO across Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, building out trading franchise and market making businesses globally. I have four degrees — graduated top of class from Nankai University with two Bachelor degrees in Finance and English Literature and got my MBA from NYU and Master of Mass Communication from University of Georgia.
Where is Bitmax located? Are you a distributed team or do you have an office to work together? How many people work for Bitmax?
Our global team of 50 members are based off two main location — New York with 20 members, including all the founding members, and Beijing with 30 members.
Would you be so kind to introduce briefly the core team members?
Both George and I are very proud of our 10-member founding team. Similar to us, they are all from Wall Street top firms like Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and top high-frequency hedge funds with deep experience in the fields of financial engineering research and development of large-scale quant trading infrastructure. Our educational background span across multiple prestigious institutions including Columbia University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University in the United States, as well as Peking University and Tsinghua University in China. So one special thing about BitMax.io is that very few exchanges in the crypto trading space are built by solid team like ours with strong traditional finance mindset and trading background.
You’ve started BitMax during market downtrend in pretty competitive environment. What is your value proposition? Why traders should switch to BitMax?
I think BitMax.io is actually very special in this market, and our team is very proud of what we have built in the short period of six months. There are at least three reasons I think traders should chooseBitMax.io:
Second, our quant-driven tech platform. Our development members were all from high frequency and quantitative systematic trading shops. They definitely make sure the platform was resilient and it can actually handle billions of volume during the design and build. The platform resilience and scalability were fully being tested when we launched the transaction mining and reverse-mining. The first day, we actually had, within the first 24 hours, the trading volume of 1.6 billion in notional; and our system didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, and didn’t shut down. This is very rare in any of today’s exchanges where you can frequently see the slowdown, the crash, and very slow user responses, especially with transaction mining exchanges.
Third, what we are extremely proud of and all the users can see, is our 24/7 customer services built upon the core Wall Street client-centric concept. Besides our customer support team who never sleep, George actually stands behind the platform almost 24/7 answering questions from the customers, seeking solutions for their issues, and providing the most responsive customer service for the entire crypto trading space.
BitMax CEO, George Cao, is often seen in official Telegram group answering different questions.
We constantly remind our team: customer first. When we design a product, when we launch a system, and when we look at user needs, we all look from customers’ perspective, from how we can protect the users. When we look at primary listing, we only select the high-quality projects because we want our users to have the best investment and trading experience on BitMax.io.
Are you satisfied with the current results of BitMax? Is transaction mining model giving expected volume? What is the % of traders using this model?
We are very pleased with current business development and delivery results from client acquisition and trading perspectives.
On the business development side, we completed the global setup for both 50-member team organization and comprehensive legal entity structure from Asia to North Americas in 2018, which laid down foundation and paved way for 2019 business expansion especially with US.
Since our platform launch in mid Aug, we successfully started Industry FIRST transaction mining and reverse-mining exchange and built out the most active global communities and users within four months in the bear market, with registered users more than 95k; average daily active traders more than quadrupled since the start of transaction mining; average daily trading volume of $465mm through the month of January and February in 2019. Those are extremely promising under this tough market condition.
From the composition of trading volumes, there are two parts — transaction mining which grows exponentially; second is organic, the regular trading which has experienced healthy increase as well because of all the listing activities and all the incentives we have. The regular trading takes about 5% of total trading volume, which is very good for an exchange which was launched in August and running right into the bear market.
What are the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin?
From traditional finance /investment view token economics is really a balance act between business / economic model and exchange market force, driven by three factors: intrinsic value and sustainability, supply and demand, and liquidity and depth.
First, from a traditional finance perspective, we need to look at the intrinsic value, the economic valuation behind a project. How does this project make money? Do they really have fundamentals? Do they really have a viable business model? Do they really have a solid user base for future growth? For example, our exchange business model is very simple. We are exchange; People trade on our platform. The more they trade, the more transaction fee the exchange collect — the revenue source. The exchange will last when people keep trading on the platform and the transaction revenue generated covers the operating cost of running an exchange.
Second, it is the supply and demand of token on the market — who will buy and for what purpose; who will sell and under what scenarios. For major currency coins like Bitcoin, people might buy and sell for potential investment or use in actual payment processing. For other types of token, it is more driven by short-term trading pattern and profit taking. So it is extremely important to set up certain token mechanism to support the equilibrium of supply and demand like how Central Banks manage the supply of currency in circulation through monetary policies.
Third, when the market force comes in, it comes down to the liquidity and depth. Exchange is about liquidity and market depth. That means there has to be enough of trading volumes at each pricing level for each token. For BitMax.io, we have very sophisticated market making model that is similar to Designated Market Maker model of New York Stock Exchange. We focus on providing liquidity and maintaining a fair and orderly market for those token listings who agree to engage our market making services.
Every exchange is looking for good projects in order to become a premiere market for this new asset. Can you name some projects that impressed you recently (even if you are not discussing possible listing with them)?
BitMax.io has strict listing requirements in order to identify high-quality projects for our users. Very proud that we have listed five industry star projects in the last several weeks, with more in the pipeline. All of them have the following attributes that made them successful — viable and profitable business model, growing user bases, strong community support, and comprehensive funding sources.
One of the shining examples is European project named LTO Network listed mid Jan. Its price has been steadily rising since then, as more and more people get to know their business model and more project support comes into the market place to buy the tokens — It uses blockchain technology to streamline a lot of legal processing for one of EU governments, which is very easy to understand its economic value from a revenue perspective. This is simply what people need to see eventually, clean and clear from business economic model perspective.
Let’s imagine a crypto market in 5 or 10 years. Can you make any prediction what the market will look like? What customers will expect from exchange in 5–10 years?
Based off my long-time experience in traditional trading, especially how equity market evolved last twenty years, I would imagine maturing market structure and entrance of institutional investors are key mandatory and healthy development of digital asset market.
First, As the market develops and expands globally, traditional institution participation is a must, in order to upgrade and strengthen the overall market structure and maturity, making it more transparent and resilient, and most importantly enabling the real broad-base adoption of digital assets. Most institutional investors, such as mutual fund, pension fund and other financial institutions, hold the majority of world investment assets, not individual retail investors. Only when those big guys join the market, will there be real revolutionary improvement and expansion of the digital asset just like any other financial markets.
Second, I would expect the market to become more structured with major building blocks for transparent trade life cycle processing and separate risk analytics supporting services. Current crypto trading market is very fragmented with exchanges taking on different roles of trading, wallet management, custodian, etc. Also the lack of clear and consistence regulation on market structure has led to many aspects of market inefficiency — inconsistent liquidity and depth, wide spread, high transaction cost, high volatility, speculation, etc. This definitely hampers the broader adoption of digital assets from institutional investors.
Forward looking, multi-tier structure under some level of regulatory framework with clear guidance is required for future maturing market. Similar to security market, there should be at least three layers of different and independent roles: the role of broker dealer to handle the client relationship with good KYC/ AML processes, retail clients, other financial institutions, blockchain players and to take client order as agent or dealer; the role of exchange to focus on listing and trading — liquidity provision and order matching; the role of clearing house to provide clearing and settlement and custodian on custody of assets with proper control and independence. It is very clean and clear with good check and balance in place.
What are the key challenges for 2019?
During our 2018 business planning, we clearly view 2019 to continue being full of challenges with market uncertainty from both asset price and valuation as well as regulatory development globally. In prep for that and further growth of our platform, we have laid out the following four main strategic objectives and they are all well underway:
With current market crash or correction, there are two possibilities from trading perspective — recovery depending on whether this is a V down or U curve. The U curve occurs when the market collapses, it takes a longer time for market to find the bottom and struggle to rise up. The V down is like a quick collapse — dropping down very fast and reaching the bottom, and then, with some catalyst event, either catalyst from market structure, or catalyst from the market expansion itself, suddenly it gives a boost and bounces right back up.
For market recovery, besides all the investment and economics elements I’ve discussed above, I believe one critical factor is the regulatory development especially clear guidance from key regulatory bodies of those major financial markets such as US, UK, EU, etc. on those key building blocks I mentioned in the maturing market structure. Once those in place, more traditional institutional investors will be ready to get in and hence boost the liquidity and valuation of the digital assets. That is the new beginning of digital assets being accepted as part of Main Street investment globally.
I've been getting several messages lately inquiring about my old post from which I borrowed $30k to buy ETH back in May: https://np.reddit.com/ethtradecomments/68oshw/just_borrowed_30k_to_buy_eth_stay_tuned_for_the/
I started typing a long response to someone who asked me whether he thinks there's gonna be another opportunity like ETH in the future (from which I made over 100X returns, buying most between $10 and $100, and cashing out 90% at $1000-$1200)...and I realized I typed so much info that it could be worthwhile to share it with the community.
Before I start my rant though... about the loan I had taken out at the time: don't ever invest in more than you're willing to lose.
Opportunities will always come, in one way or another. Today is crypto, yesterday was flipping houses, before that was penny and internet stocks. But from a crypto standpoint, opportunities in this field are gonna be more rare. Bitcoin, ETH, and other large caps coins are probably done for for a while -- they'll go up in the long run but I don't think we'll see another new parabolic rise of 1000+% gains for a long while. People switched to ICOs after seeing some of the 3-10X gains, but the wild west of unregulated ICOs is starting to lose steam, mostly due to regulatory barriers.
Identifying Fundamental Disruptions
I invested in ETH first at $10 and buying all the way up to $100 (the $30k loan got me ETH at $80 each), and while others were selling for 2x flips, I was able to hold it all the way to $1000+. I think this is important to mention in the context of this post because of the necessity to realize the long-term disruption that lays ahead. At the time, I realized that ETH was about to give altcoins/tokens the ability to be speculated on due to their direct utility association in a tech startup's main business mechanism. I firmly believed that ETH should be worth at nearly as much as, if not at least, BTC in market cap because of this. Prior to ETH, it was just Bitcoins and then all clones/shitcoins. ETH gave rise to ICOs and speculative coins that could be assigned potential business value to it, thereby making crypto markets what it is today. Frankly, the entire crypto market owes ETH, and respectfully BTC of course, for what is today. Note though: I rolled the dice big for ETH, but even my $30k investment at the time was only about a quarter of my savings at the time. So again, don't invest in more than you are willing to lose or sleep soundly at night.
The Future: Increasing Regulation
Anyway, turning to the future. Here's what I think is going to happen. SEC is going shutdown alot of ICOs; they are really cracking down on ICOs claiming to be utilities, even if disguised through airdrops or SAFTs. In fact, just today's WSJ news said SEC issued subpoenas to multiple ICOs and have taken interest in SAFTs for so-called utility tokens. Just like the dot-com bubble, 90%+ of these previous ICOs are gonna tank and fail. We're gonna see a massive correction probably later in 2018, when roadmaps with major expected milestones start missing their deadlines, and a domino effect happens when SEC starts really flexing their muscle and forcing exchanges to go into delisting mode (we already are starting to see this with Bittrex).
But a Hidden Opportunity
So about looking for another crypto pump opportunity.... When the culling happens, the survivors are gonna be as follows. Look for US-based ICOs that have been SEC-compliant from the outset, or at least making a strong effort to do so. Having a legal advisor or team member will be big this year. Don't be afraid of lockups or holding periods if it's for the purpose of being SEC compliant (signs are mentions of Reg CF, Reg D, Reg S, and Reg A+ offerings... you could google these keywords with their company name to see if they have a filing record in SEC's database). See if these ICOs and team leaders had a successful and profitable business in the past, or at least spun out of a profitable company. Also, there's way too much bullshit with partnerships, many which are fake or with useless no/name companies. Next, a lot of these open ecosystem platforms rely on partner companies to attract customers -- but why would companies join when there are no customers, and vice versa. It's all bullshit and often pump and dump shilling. What you want is a closed ecosystem (think Apple iOS) to help consumers navigate the business model. An open ecosystem where customers have to attach their own crypto wallet, blah blah blah, yay decentralization, yeah... well that's all never gonna see mass adoption (think Linux... some hardcore advocates exist, but what layperson actually wants to operate command lines or deep menus all day long and accidentally break their system with one wrong syntax). Look how successful Coinbase has become by simplifying crap. Too much shit is focused on the crypto side and it's like a foreign language to mainstream customers who won't touch it with a ten foot pole. Look for ICOs that are consumer focused rather just have solely an ICO page. It's particularly appealing if they have a self-directing strategy in the form of a tangible product they can sell to generate data or transactions in their ecosystem, which would naturally attract additional customers/companies into their platform.
These companies with revolutionary ideas, who are making an effort to be legally compliant and also have a tangible product, are the ones that are gonna survive the mass culling of alts and ICOs later this year. If we ever get our first ICO unicorn (from revenue, not pumped market cap of their token), then it will bring truly mainstream recognition of the crypto markets that will give the traditional stock markets a serious run for their money. I'm not talking about less than 1% of the $70 trillion stock market value of the world -- I'm talking like double digit levels of the entire global stock market. And I bet you it will happen. This is the sorting-out phase of the future -- a shift from old world Wall Street-type money to Silicon Valley. Crypto allows direct investments into technology startups, and tokenization of the actual business transaction mechanism cuts down all the traditional valuation crap dealing with public relations and whatever meta valuation factors. If the business is making sales, then the token is worth something, and that's all that matters. If the business is losing sales, then the token is worth less. Straightforward.
- https://www.epigencare.com/ico - Selling a 23andMe-like skincare test to generate skincare profiles, then seeing how product ingredients affect the profiles. Then skincare companies can target their products to customer profiles through their recommendation engine, and present them as personalized solutions in the customer's test report.
- https://holo.host/ico/ - Creating a new blockchain 3.0 that allows you store full websites and databases directly on the blockchain (instead of just transaction data), in order to allow decentralized hosting via peer-to-peer internet. They're selling small server boxes or software so you get paid crypto for cloud hosting (and apps and sites needing hosting pay the hosts).
When All The Puzzle Pieces Fit Together
Two more things to note. First: If ETH successfully pulls off scaling through sharding/raiden and drastically reduces gas fees through proof of stake, then it will be fit for enterprise use. ETH's stress tested blockchain with upgrades will facilitate real world adoption (Most of these ERC20 platforms are currently not fit for real adoption due to high gas fees and low TPS). Otherwise, consider hedging into alternative smart contract-, high volume-, low cost-capable platforms with implementation documentation (e.g., Stellar) to potentially get some good gains. Second: A lot of these current crypto exchanges are not registered ATS's (alternative trading systems) that are permitted to trade securities by the SEC, so they can only trade utilities. But SEC is cracking down on these fake-utilities and are deeming them all securities... that's gonna leave these exchanges in the dust. So we're seeing big companies entering this space, Overstock building tZero, Circle/Goldman Sachs acquiring Polo, Cobinhood, etc. They are prepping for ATS compliance, and when legal tokenized securities become tradeable, they will be traded on these platforms... not hot messes like Binance. And they will be user friendly -- gateways for mainstream to invest directly in the tokenized assets of a company's core business model. It's all culminating to the survival of legit companies, mainstream adoption, and these are your clues. Enjoy trading shitcoins while they last, but don't get caught with your pants down bagholding them.
TL;DR Look for coins based on fundamentals and legal compliance so they will survive the massive culling in late 2018 when roadmaps don't meet milestone deadlines
Edit: Grammar, and Readability
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