Markets down, energy up @TOKEN2049
Over 7000 attendees from 2000 companies packed the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore this week for Asia's premier crypto and Web3 conference, TOKEN2049. The conference was buzzing with energy after a two year hiatus because of the pandemic. Singapore was also sparkling in the lead up to this weekend’s Grand Prix.
A number of recurrent themes returned in panel sessions and conversations with participants across the industry:
Bear markets are a time to build.
The need for regulatory clarity to encourage adoption.
Asia’s outsized role in incubating crypto projects and companies.
In a panel on the macro narrative, Jordi Alexander, Chief Investment Officer at Selini Capital, noted that crypto has become a leading indicator for markets on the way up and the way down. In his view, crypto is closer to bottoming than traditional markets because deleveraging has already happened.
Zaheer Ebtikar from LedgerPrime noted that the No. 1 driver for institutional adoption is regulation:
Institutions are not sure about what they’re not sure about. The industry needs to change the narrative. We are working very closely with regulators. A robust and clear regulatory framework is important for maturation of the asset class.
In a panel on Crypto Market Structure, Thomas Uhm, Head of Crypto Institutional Sales and Trading at Jane Street, observed that:
regulators are not trying to protect you, they’re trying to protect your parents or grandparents or people you’ve unsuccessfully tried to convince to understand cryptocurrency.
Commenting on the MAS’s recent plans to curb cryptocurrency speculation, Uhm noted that "speculation is part of the innovation cycle". It incentivizes innovation and adoption:
Speculation is a bet on whether we can build a better model or a better world.
Joining a number of crypto-exchange peers on a panel on institutional adoption, Alexander Hoptner, CEO at Bitmex, noted that consolidation in the exchange space is coming, but the timing is unclear.
Tim McCourt at CME Group spoke of CME's positive long term outlook for the space in light of advances in computer science. He added that regulatory clarity would increase the speed of innovation by giving the industry confidence to build.
In a panel on Regulatory Advances in Crypto, Ari Redbord, Head of Legal and Government Affairs at TRM Labs, noted that it is still early days in the regulatory evolution of the space. A comprehensive regulatory framework is the ultimate goal. Regulatory clarity is required for business.
FTX’s COO, Constance Wang, commented that people often ask why FTX spend so much time on regulation, observing that we need support of regulators otherwise traditional money and mass retail won’t come in.
After two years of pandemic, TOKEN2049 was a great opportunity to connect with new and old friends again in person. That pent up desire to meet in person and exchange ideas at TOKEN2049 revealed a continued optimism across the industry as builders continue to build while navigating crypto winter and a changing regulatory landscape.