Where are we in Cryptocurrency now?
The buzz around cryptocurrency and its startups is far from being diminished. Instead, it seems that this digital asset trend may be picking up steam around the world, and even more prominently on home turf. Many industry gurus predict Singapore to be a Southeast Asian (SEA) pioneer of decentralized finance (DeFi) as local crypto startups are popping up like wild mushrooms. But what’s the crypto landscape truly like in the Merlion nation?
Being a crypto startup in Singapore
The Main Panel, From left : Tim Draper (Draper Assoc), Arthur Breitman (TEZOS Project), Yusho Liu (Coinhako). Source : gevme.com
The main challenge of new coin players in Singapore seems to be one of differentiation and blooming an understanding of what truly is crypto and how it works locally, as well as within the region. Pair that with the general reluctance of the fiat community to leave behind a “stable” currency they’ve known all their lives, and you have a struggling local, crypto startup that requires outside support for its technical and operational growth.
Based on the comments of mammoth crypto backer, Tim Draper, Singaporean crypto startups will do well if the governance unit widely acknowledges the local crypto terrain, as well as rope in the Central Bank to reinvent its financial structure to substantially include cryptocurrency into their existing mix of tenders.
But then, what about the organizational challenges of a local crypto startup?
Evolving a company and culture
According to Arthur Breitman, co-founder of TEZOS, a crypto coin project launched in 2018, starting a crypto firm and selecting a suitable partner and co-founder ultimately boiled down to having complementary skills. This was seconded by Yusho Liu, co-founder of the local coin exchange platform, Coinhako, who also added the necessity for the passion for the industry and concepts of cryptocurrency.
However, a downside of being a part of a startup is a tendency to bring on board a multitude of partners who fulfill the needs of the company. Most of the key figures in illustrious crypto startups agree that it’s more beneficial for a startup to have a smaller partner circle and operational team. This is not only cost-effective but having people who understand multiple facets of a business can boost creativity and innovation.
Growing a crypto startup from scratch also means having to evolve a culture that matches the various stages of progress of the organization. For a coin project, like TEZOS, it is essential that the team remain small yet stable. From the thoughts vocalized by co-founder, Breitman projects like this benefit from the flexibility and the pseudo-presence of a hierarchy.
For more formal setups, like cryptocoin exchange companies similar to Coinhako, it starts as a people-centric culture. But as teams grow and the business furthers outside the region, there is a need for conscious culture-building. This takes into account the diversity of the team, a varied set of skills, and regional differences. A fixed hierarchy and organization helps teams communicate and eases leadership by example.
Another thing to remember is that crypto is steeped in the concept of trust and freedom. For SEA-based startups, embracing this freedom in a generally rigid culture is a challenge. Building and backing a cryptocoin with no regulation and has its value determined by technology requires these startups to cultivate a culture of learning and evolution, contraire to the general business culture and practices of the region.
Now that there is a nascent culture, what skills would a local crypto startup team need?
Talents & expertise that a crypto startup needs
Crypto startups need people who can wear multiple hats at the same time. A wider range of skills is valuable to a budding business, which is still grappling with the basics of operation and its product. Especially with a project like TEZOS, building something from scratch often lacks a written process flow. Most of the experience is winging it, essentially being creative and innovative with operations, as well as coin development and diversification.
This is also a gem to have when transitioning from a startup to a more stable business structure. Cryptocurrency exchange units first start out like any other startup out there. But in time, there is a growing need for people who are passionate about the business, especially at the higher levels of management. Startups have to embrace a little bit of specificity, to add structured layers where operations is involved, by the books of Coinhako co-founder, Liu.
With such cultures and skills, what meaning does it bring to the future of cryptocurrency in Singapore?
What lies in the future?
For exchange platforms, it’s more of a matter of building the need for their business model. Another challenge, especially within the SEA network, is connecting people to the opportunities of crypto as well as introducing the Martian mindset of embracing trust and freedom that comes with it.
Crypto backers also wrestle with this, aiming to constantly spread the ideology of crypto and the trust and freedom it strings along. The fiat culture is ingrained into humanity, it is all that anyone knows. Introducing a brand new currency, built solely on technology and runs on bylaws and communal conventions, is definitely an uphill.
Nevertheless, DeFi pundits are positive that Singapore is poised to be a leader in cryptocurrency within the region. But before it reaches that stratum, there is considerable effort needed, both from the governance and local players. From familiarizing the people with the concept and its workings, right down to developing the next level of the very dynamism, wealth, and value that built Singapore, much toils and troubles are left to be faced.
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