2021 Outlook: Hu Liang, Omniex
Hu Liang is Founder & CEO of Omniex Holdings, which operates a trading platform for digital assets.
How did your business scale across the financial services landscape in 2020?
2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. I don’t think any of us could have predicted this scale of institutional adoption of crypto and digital assets. As the COVID pandemic hit the world, en masse, in March, it was difficult to say for certain at that time whether the market was going to benefit or be setback by it. Initially, it seemed the effort needed to fight COVID could detract many institutional investors from investing in crypto and its infrastructure. It’s now clear that there are more believers in crypto than detractors.
In the last three years, institutional investors and participants have embraced the learning curve on crypto. They have learned both the value propositions of the asset class as well as the technologies behind it. As a result, we have seen institutional investors, global banks, global fintech firms and corporations in general embrace crypto assets and begin large scale rollout.
As a company, Omniex is proud to play an important role in the crypto industry’s growth this year by closing a $14 million series A funding round led by Swiss securities giant SIX Group. We continue to grow our user base and trading infrastructure for buy-side asset management and trading firms. At the same time, we are leveraging our core technology platform to provide additional services for intermediaries, services providers and sell-side firms. As we end 2020, it’s clear that the institutional crypto adoption theme will continue at an even more impressive pace in 2021.
What are the core trends you see coming to fruition in the institutional crypto marketplace for 2021?
We see three large themes as we move into 2021. First being the continued rollout of large ecosystem deployments that will enable larger institutions to enter the market. We have seen the likes of Square and PayPal offer crypto platforms for retail consumers. In 2021 we will see prominent names in the institutional finance world offer similarly comprehensive and regulated platforms for institutional investors.
Second, we will see more regulatory clarity that will provide greater confidence to institutional participants. This is critical to unlock the first point. With what we’ve seen so far in the US this year as well as global efforts around CDBCs (central bank digital currencies) and other initiatives, I believe we will make great strides in increasing regulatory clarity worldwide.
Finally, we will see the intersection of DeFi (decentralized finance) and CeFi (centralized finance) become more clearly understood. We need to recognize that DeFi and CeFi are not mutually exclusive; they can coexist and support both individuals and institutions. I think 2021 will show us new models that allow traditional finance and decentralized finance to function side by side and reveal many real world use cases.
Looking back on the last year, how did your industry pivot for success, and how will it continue to build on this momentum?
As we wrap up 2020 and head into 2021, with hindsight, we can confidently say that the global pandemic actually accelerated digital asset adoption in a number of ways over the last 12 months. While the dollar will continue to play its current global role as a reserve currency in the foreseeable future, global quantitative easing is foretelling a story of inflationary pressure that is highlighting a clear value proposition for crypto assets such as Bitcoin. Furthermore, the network creation effect of Ethereum and similar Layer 1 blockchain networks are starting to show results, proving that decentralized ecosystems can provide recognizable utility value.
So I would say that the digital and crypto market did not have to “pivot” for success. On the contrary, I think one of the most important value propositions of crypto assets, as an uncorrelated and inflation protected asset, is shining through and being recognized by institutional investors and providers. The result of this momentum is larger real world use cases beyond just prototypes and proof of concepts. The three trends I mentioned earlier will all support the continued maturation and adoption of crypto into “everyday” finance, both consumer and institutional. It’s truly exciting to be participating in this industry now and we will only see the momentum accelerating going forward.
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