Interview with Irene Wong, CEO of ixFintech

As part of the Hong Kong FinTech Week, we interviewed Ms. Irene Wong, Founder and CEO of ixFintech.

As part of the Hong Kong FinTech Week, we interviewed Ms. Irene Wong, Founder and CEO of ixFintech.

Oriol Caudevilla: What is the ixCrypto Index (IXCI) and what makes it different from other similar indexes?

Irene Wong: The ixCrypto Index has 8 constituents with highest weight on Bitcoin followed by Ethereum, and it aims to be a good tradable and benchmark index of the cryptocurrency universe.

Single index weight is capped at 40% to provide risk diversification.  The ixCrypto index as at 3Q2020 index review covers 80.31% of the total crypto market capitalization and 46.43% of the total market volume, being a good representation of the market.

The index is being run very solidly by IX Asia Indexes Company Limited (“ix-index”), which provides full transparency of the methodology and daily bulletins and quarterly review reports to the market.

To ensure the professionality and impartiality of the index methodologies and operations, ixAsia has established its index advisory committee, which has representation from different industries, including fund management, exchanges, brokerage, financial blockchain experts, crypto service providers, etc. Our Index Committee consists of three ex senior management of the Hong Kong Exchanges (HKEX) and Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, the ex-Vice Finance Minister of Thailand and head of global futures of one of the top China brokerage house, so I would say it is very well run, properly and professionally, with a top standard.

Oriol Caudevilla: Coinciding with the Hong Kong FinTech Week, you have just announced  that IXCI will be disseminated via Nasdaq Global Index Data Service (GIDS). What does it mean in practice?

Irene Wong: To ensure that institutional investors and retail investors can get access of our index level, we partner with Nasdaq in the index dissemination by using their Global Data Services (GIDS), a proven global dissemination channel monitored by Nasdaq’s technology and support team; reaching over 700 firms including all major information vendors, television media, financial web portals, banks and both buy and sell side firms. In Hong Kong, we can provide to those who have not got a Nasdaq data feed connected directly from our dissemination services, also with night desk monitoring.

In short, we provide a proven, first class dissemination services to ensure a stable data dissemination of the ixCrypto index. Investors around the world can get easy access to our index.

Oriol Caudevilla: Earlier this week, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced that Hong Kong will regulate all cryptocurrency trading platforms operating in the financial hub, changing its previous “opt in” approach. What do you think of that?

Irene Wong: We welcome this approach to tidy up the current uncertainties in the market. This will put everyone in a level playing field and will give investors a safety net, which I personally think should help the digital asset market to grow in the long run by giving investors more confidence of this new asset class.

Oriol Caudevilla: Even though many banks and key players seemed to be reluctant to talk about cryptos, the situation seems to be changing. Last week, we learnt that a digital currency exchange listing four top crypto currencies (Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash) and backed by Singapore´s largest lender, DBS Bank is in the works, even though the bank is still in process of seeking regulatory approval. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think many more traditional and virtual banks will embrace digital assets in the near future?

Irene Wong: Our index team has been monitoring the growth trend of cryptos since we launched our ixCrypto index in 2018, we think the grow of cryptocurrencies and digital assets is an irreversible trend. So, the behaviour of the market is just reflecting this fact.

The global annual turnover of cryptocurrency market in 2017 was USD 700B of which 48% was bitcoin, in 2019 this figure was closer to USD18 trillion, showing a rise in almost 25x. The derivatives exchanges saw a continued increase in volume over spot exchanges at almost 6x when comparing the ten largest. Some of the major established crypto brokers in Asia return profits in the region of USD800m-USD1B for 2018.  An average of over $2 million per day. And this year we also saw significant more adoption on DEFI and digital assets lending activities, making the ecosystem more developed.

From these figures, I think definitely more banks will step into digital assets in the future while I think this is more likely for virtual banks than traditional, which have more operational burdens to handle. Regulatory approval is just a matter of time to moving towards a more comprehensive and developed approach. The speed is also accelerated by different countries announcing their country digital currencies development (Central Bank Digital Currencies, CBDCs), like China, Sweden, Singapore and Thailand etc.

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