2021 Outlook: George Zarya, Bequant
George Zarya is CEO of Bequant, a prime brokerage for digital-asset investors and institutions.
What were the key theme(s) for your business in 2020?
As a prime broker, our aim is to bring efficiency to the the market and add value for our clients. The key needs they share with us on a consistent basis are: access to liquidity; capital efficiency; and minimising counterparty risk. The launch of our Bequant PRO offering this year enabled us to connect to clients to large liquidity pools, both on exchange and off (through OTC deks), and also brought with it the ability to reduce risk exposure through centralized custody, cross-margining and increased access to hedging products all under the same umbrella as a smart order router, securities lending and cap intro functions. We are currently the only full service prime broker currently operating in the digital asset space and are proud to have set the bar for institutional-class service providers in the space.
What was the highlight of 2020?
Clearly, the end of the year has brought a lot of positive news and an influx of institutional money to the digital asset markets. This has partly moved all sides of the digital space ecosystem development. The infrastructure to meet the needs of these clients has been in development for some time, and we are finally starting to see the demand materialize.
What surprised you in 2020?
Regulators’ resistance to the Facebook Libra project has been a surprise but, at the same time, served as an affirmation of the power and disruption that the largest brands using blockchain can achieve. Another surprise is the speed at which adoption has occurred in the institutional space – yes, it has been a long time coming, but I’m not sure anyone saw billions of dollars flowing into digital assets from all corners incl;uding hedge funds, corporate treasuries and even governments increasingly embracing the idea of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), which increasingly appear to be the future of money.
What are your expectations for 2021?
I would expect the markets to rapidly mature as regulatory clarity comes from the US and elsewhere, So far, authorities have covered a number of market structure aspects, but more guidance is needed, and should come soon. Once that occurs, we will see even more engagement from the institutional community. Looking further into the future, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see all parts of the financial markets digitize and, perhaps, even tokenize.
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