This year has seen Bitcoin skyrocket in value. Last week’s news that the cryptocurrency was up 900 percent came amid increasing speculation that mainstream investors may be on the cusp of embracing it. But the problem still remains: how do we create a bridge between the thus far counterculture of the crypto markets and established financial institutions? We at Disruptive Live spoke to fintech firm Xena Exchange, who are leading the way by launching a second-generation cryptocurrency exchange.
CEO Anton Kravchenko dialled in from Slush, a world-leading start-up event in Helsinki, to tell us about his team’s pioneering work. His view of Bitcoin is unexpected; he calls it “a bit of a hype right now”, and expects a degree of correction and cooling to occur. This doesn’t seem to worry him, however, as his focus is on the technology behind blockchain, rather than on the temporary buzz.
“One of the hallmarks of blockchain is that it can create trust in a network without the need for an intermediary,” says Kravchenko. “…One can transfer money with a trusted network without having to go to a bank, or take out insurance on their car without the involvement of an insurance company, and still be sure that it will pay out when time comes. Secure, frictionless, and instant transactions are like the future of economical interactions.”
The Xena Exchange team is based in London and Moscow, and boasts impressive backgrounds in investment banking – experience which they hope will expedite and support their plans to integrate seamlessly with financial institutions. For those looking to gain price exposure to blockchain tokens, such as Bitcoin, Xena Exchange’s role will be to facilitate access to cryptocurrencies and more than 100 tokens of the blockchain projects, whilst also closing the gap between traditional and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Are cryptocurrencies really compatible with mainstream banking?
With industry experts, like Ruben Galindo Steckel, co-founder of AirTM, suggesting that cryptocurrencies have taken off because ‘many have lost faith in the banking system’, it begs the question as to whether these two fundamentally disparate arms of the fintech landscape can truly align. But with the world economy facing big questions, like the management of inflation rates in developing countries, and the huge behavioural shift towards e-commerce in more developed nations, there is hope that platforms that allow cryptocurrencies to be exchanged on a larger scale will allow banks to move towards a more secure and transparent system, and regain some of that lost trust.
The hype, confusion and uncertainty that still cloaks Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies might mean there is still a long way to go before the old-guard embraces them fully, but the conversation has begun, and with businesses now looking to facilitate that relationship, perhaps we could be closer to streamlining the two than we think.