FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.8-Sep 7): Institutionalization of Crypto, China’s Ban and the Potential of Blockchain Decentralization with Juwan Lee, Founder and CEO of NexChange

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NCFA Canada | Sep 7, 2018

Ep8-Sep 7:  Institutionalization of Crypto, China's Ban and the Potential of Blockchain Decentralization

About this episode: On this episode, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Juwan Lee the founder and CEO of NexChange. They talked about institutions investing in crypto, some the up and coming players in the market and China being pro blockchain. Enjoy!

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest: Juwan Lee, Founder and CEO, NexChange

Bio:  Juwan Lee is an entrepreneur, VC, blockchain and finte professional with three decades of investment industry portfolios and organizations on behalf of multi-billion dollar hedge funds, proprietary trading desks, asset management and venture capital firms.  He is the Founder and CEO  of NexChange, a venture innovation platform, CEO  of Arrakis Ventures and co-Founder and Director of the Blockchain Centre of Hong Kong. He is a co-founder of tokenScale, a blockchain accelerator created in partnership with brinc. Along with Cyberport, he co-created the Fintech O2O brand. His firm,  NexChange, created the Block O2O brand connecting the global blockchain sector and the Healthtech O2O brand for the healthtech community.  Mr Lee was formerly the CIO of the largest Shanghai-based asset management firm. He spent numerous years at JP Morgan in a variety of roles from principal investments to heading equity within the asset management division. As an early pioneer in managing technology portfolios he worked with SAC  Capital, Osprey, Rothschilds and Montgomery. He funded many star companies in Silicon Valley (including Netscape, Yahoo and Eidos - Tomb Raider), Taiwan's Hsinchu Science Park, Bangalore India, Korea and Israel.

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Transcription of Interview

Manseeb Khan : Hey everybody, Manseeb Khan here and you are tuning in to the NCFA's newest podcast series Fintech Fridays. Today I have an absolutely incredible guest with me. He's an incredibly busy man. You may have seen some of the stuff online because he's very big in the block chain, crypto space. Today I have Juwan Lee. Thank you so much for making it today. With all the delays everything you still made it. I'm very thankful.

Juwan Lee: Well Manseeb, thank you so much for having me. I'm so glad to be here.

Manseeb Khan : No absolutely. So, for the audience, for the I'm pretty sure three or four people that have no idea who you are. Could you just for a minute give us a little bit of your background and a little bit more of who you are and what your company does?

Juwan Lee: Yes sure. Well my background originally stems from investing. I spent many years in the Silicon Valley. venture capital and late stage investments and then did money management and hedge funds asset management. So, my background is mostly in investments. The company that I started about four and a half years ago is called NexChange and we are ecosystem as a service and people always ask me what does that mean. Well we're in the innovation space and we do a number of things we either market invest or create innovative products

Manseeb Khan : Awesome. So, I guess going through some of your past successes you've been you've been a very early Yahoo. And Netscape guy so could you. And being very much in the Crypto and blockchain space could you give us a little bit more insight of where you see the market going when it comes towards crypto?

Juwan Lee: Well I think the first thing I would say is that it's very early stages of crypto. It's really if you look at the size of it. I mean the price of Ethereum the price of Bitcoin has come down dramatically. So, the size is about 200 billion. So, when you compare that to the size of capital markets which is based on our estimates over five hundred trillion. I mean this is tiny and where we've seen is a kind of the normal growth pattern that you see in any form of technology. We saw Bitcoin have come down precipitously in price. I think it was driven by a number of things. You know ICO prices have come down dramatically. The use case Tokens have come into question. And you know just sheerly the idea of building community with entrepreneurs that have very little experience. So, a lot of things have in the short term come into question. However, this is a viable industry. We're in the early stages and either I'm very excited about the bright future for cryptocurrency and the decentralization world of blockchain.

Manseeb Khan: That was 500 trillion you said?

Juwan Lee: 5 trillion is the size of capital markets when you include real estate, gold, bonds you know equity as a very large market this is not cryptocurrency. This is our current capital markets and other assets.

Manseeb Khan: I guess speaking of current assets and current capital markets how you see institutions being part of this new wave is that a very much evolve and die situation. Or how do you see them play a role. And if a factor in the new space.

Juwan Lee: Lot of people been talking about the institutionalization of the ICO market, but I think even more fundamental than that is the institutionalization of the crypto fund industry. We've seen a rapid increase in the number of funds. I think it's now over 400 U.S. is still the largest. Institutions are getting them all like traditional VCs setting up their own crypto funds. Some VC's are ear marking their assets for crypto projects. So, what we're seeing is a lot more interest from institutions to get into this space was appealing for them. Is this is a uncorrelated asset highly inefficient still. There's a lot of opportunity for Alpha and a new investable asset class so definitely we see evolution not a die situation.

Manseeb Khan: So, you are based out in China. So, could you just talk about a little bit more of we hear about in the news about the Chinese developments, Chinese regulations. I guess what that really means for North America.

Juwan Lee: Sure. So, I'm based in Hong Kong but just a stone's throw away from China recently. I was planning a trip to China and that same very day was the announcement that was made that all up crypto events were banned. Now you can imagine that if this happened in North America. The execution of that will be very difficult. But in China they were able to execute it very quickly. What does this mean. I believe that the prices of cryptocurrency coming down. I believe that just the amount of fraud and scams that put a lot of alert to China in terms of putting a stop to a lot of this.

Juwan Lee: But also, there's a dynamic to China that is very different than say in North America which is capital outflow. They want to control capital outflow, crypto currency something that they cannot control. This is something that's very important to them. What does this mean for North America. I believe in the very near future we'll start to see really more thought process and comments made about what can and cannot be done in the cryptos space and over the next that's you know one year or so we'll start to see a lot more what I call firmer a firm regulations that are at least self-regulating bodies creating guidelines that are much easier to follow for what is the best practices for cryptocurrency.

Manseeb Khan: No, I totally agree with you the execution of banning all crypto events in North America that just pulling that off in and of itself would be. Wow. I’d be very much impressive being.

Juwan Lee:  Well I mean that happened. Literally almost overnight. So, you can imagine the level of execution the government literally sent out a notice to all the hotels and public places where you can have events and it was done very quickly.

Manseeb Khan: I assume the crypto events managers was not too happy about that.

Juwan Lee: Well it's a bit like prohibition right. I mean people are still doing it and they're doing it in other venues and all of these activities that are being banned only provide you know other creative ways of finding out how to meet. And because you cannot stop the movement of crypto. you can just put roadblocks in place and oftentimes that creates more of demand than actual squashing of it.

Manseeb Khan: Right so they're just adding fuel to the flame that has crypto right? like they're just going to find new different ventures and opportunities to grow and expand because this is a never like a snowball. You can't really stop.

Juwan Lee: It's definitely a snowball.

Manseeb Khan: Do you see I guess China coming back probably in the future?

Juwan Lee: Well I think it's important to know that China is very pro block chain and the technology they promote that. is just crypto currency they're trying to control and ICO your market right. So, this is very important delineation. So, if you see the activity and the development of block chain and looking GitHub Shanghai and Beijing isn't the top you know four or five in the world in terms of the actual development. So that part has never slowed down in terms of their evolution and what they want to do with regulation. It was a surprise to many that he got even more strict and oftentimes before anything changes you you'll see a lot more stricter regulation until they figure out what they want to do. at this point. I don't have a real opinion about what the next steps will be. I am a firm believer that you know several years from now we will be able to coexist in China out with cryptocurrency and block chain.

Manseeb Khan : What institutional or hedge fund interest is there, and we do like kind of roping back to what I asked before right. And if there is any truly moving the needle right what is needed to ramp up interest or just are there any couple of examples that you can come up with. Are there any current players that you're kind of keeping an eye on or do you see any up and coming game changers in the space?

Juwan Lee: Well institutions are getting involved. But for them to get more involved you really need proper investment strategies that can scale. I already highlighted how small this space is in terms of overall size. proper risk management and also the volatility is way too high. So there's not much liquidity there's not the proper back office operation but I think what I think the single most important reason why more institutions have not gotten involved in the crypto space and investing in crypto funds is due to the problems of custody, the security behind it, the institutionalization right now is an experiment that most of the crypto funds are conducting. And you know large institutions cannot deploy assets into an asset class where they don't feel comfortable where the money is being held in terms of the number of players that are coming into the market. I think that this is an industry ripe for to I guess traditional managers to come in. One is the hedge fund managers have already started to come in and there some of the larger players that are in the market some of the former hedge fund managers and wealthy VCs coming in in the form of either setting up their own fund or carving out a piece from their own portfolio some of the more prominent names. I think if you look at the some of the largest crypto funds you see Pantera, Dan Morehead the CEO is a former Tiger Management hedge fund alum. And you know we've seen other hedge fund managers like Michael Novogratz from Galaxy. So, this is really a space that combines a couple of skills one skill is the ability to trade and understand the macro environment what's happening in the crypto space and the other one is finding early stage ideas whether venture capital have an advantage. So, if you have both of those backgrounds I see a lot of those kind of managers coming into this space in the future.

Manseeb Khan : What would be your golden nuggets for either up and coming crypto and blockchain companies. something that it could be something that  you got when you started on your early to the Silicon Valley and brought it over to Hong Kong . I guess what is your golden nugget that stood the test of time.

Juwan Lee: Well I think most importantly when we look at projects and we look at the execution and the actual outcome of what they become the most important thing is not the product is actually the timing of the product and also the management team. These are the things that are important. We all know that the beginning of a product and where eventually ends up will be vastly different. So, a management team has to be able to be flexible and execute according to the changes that take place. I believe that you know what we're seeing is a much higher-level management team coming in the ICO market and I also see that happening in the fund space as well. So, it's very promising.

Manseeb Khan : Yes, very excited to see the new movers and shakers the space and kind of see where it's what's going to happen in the next 18 to 24 months. Juwan, thank you so much for sitting down with me today. I know you have a crazy hectic schedule being one of the forerunners in the blockchain community. so, thanks so much for sitting down today. I had an incredible time and I am very excited to have you again.

Juwan Lee: Thank you very much and I love to come back again.

 

End of Podcast

 

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