Stephen Young is a financial veteran who has built products in the financial market for 20 years and recently moved into the cryptocurrency market as the cofounder and chief product officer at Coindirect.
He started his career in the UK as a software consultant, and since then has built software for large international banks, asset managers, and fintech startups.
He has worked in various roles in his career, which include software architecture, marketing, design, and a two-year stint at a fintech startup.
This experience, along with his long-time interest in Bitcoin, prepared him well for his role as chief product officer at Coindirect.
He now leads the design of the Coindirect platform, which makes it easy for people to buy, sell, and convert over 40 cryptocurrencies.
MyBroadband members recently had the opportunity to ask Stephen questions about cryptocurrencies, crypto exchanges, and blockchain technologies.
Here are the best questions and answers from this discussion.
If cryptocurrencies are this volatile, why then is it worth investing?
There are 2 ways to think about this question. As a trader or as an investor. As a trader there’s money to be made in volatile markets, traders are mostly concerned with taking advantage of price action (prices moving up and down). If you are a long-term investor and you’re looking to hold then you should be planning on a 5 to 10+ years investment. This means you shouldn’t really care about the short-term swings in the market.
Like so many other average South Africans, I am a newbie in this field; how do I choose a cryptocurrency and how do I know if that cryptocurrency is a good fit for me?
There’s a well-used phrase in the cryptocurrency industry: DYOR. It stands for: Do Your Own Research. This is absolutely imperative. There are too many stories of people who blindly listened to advice from their friends or some random person is a Telegram group.
In South Africa cryptocurrency is relatively new, how long do you think it will take before crypto currency will become an accepted form of payment at store not just online stores?
South Africa is not ahead or behind in the cryptocurrency revolution.
Everyone across the world has access to the technology and many people from many places are working together to take things forward. There are places where cryptocurrency is accepted as a form of payment; The Alexander Bar in Cape Town is one such example. There are others dotted through South Africa and the world.
No one can really say how long it will take to become a widely accepted form of payment but in my opinion, we need to see the crypto market grow to a significantly larger size (1 Trillion USD or more) before using cryptocurrency as a payment mechanism becomes practical. With the current size of the crypto market “whales” (High net worth individuals) have the ability to move the entire market.
Until we see more stability the complexity and risk for retailers to accept cryptocurrencies is still too high. On top of this we need to see major improvements in the user experience of buying, storing and spending cryptocurrencies for every day users.
What are your thoughts on cryptocurrency mining; both in being a miner or joining a mining company please?
Mining has become big business and there are significant advantages to economies of scale. This is one of the reasons we are seeing so much miner centralisation. If you want to take mining seriously you would need some serious network administration and data centre management skills. You also need access to very cheap electricity as the cost of power is the biggest expense for miners.
I feel that cryptocurrency is a bit too complicated for the average guy on the street to understand – is there any way one could explain it in easier terms?
This is absolutely the biggest problem right now – we need a better customer experience across the board. The industry is lacking great user interface design and simple methods to put fiat currency into crypto and get it back out. Coindirect.com is absolutely solving this problem and leading the industry right now.
In emerging markets, which industries will be most disrupted by the implementation of cryptos and how can the leaders in those industries take advantage of the disruption?
Blockchain technology is disrupting industries that extend far beyond just the emerging markets. Over the next 20-50 years we will see massive shifts in industries like banking, law, regulation, property and many, many others.
It’s tough to say exactly what the global reach of the technology will be, but it will be significant for certain.
Do you think there should be more regulation in the cryptocurrency market, especially in South Africa? Will increased regulation bring more trust to cryptocurrencies?
Yes – Regulations are indispensable to the proper functioning of economies and societies.
They underpin markets, protect the rights and safety of citizens and ensure the delivery of goods and services. Regulations creates certainty in the market which allows for adoption.
BUT, it has to be the right kind of regulation. Crypto assets do not fit in the structure of the old financial world. They need to be evaluated and regulated for their unique abilities which make them an asset. Crypto-assets need to be regulated as they are – a new paradigm shift in the financial industry, and not within the confines of existing legislation.