Recession, a more favorable regulatory view, a better understanding of the technology, and traditional investors turning to crypto – are all aspects that are bringing adoption to crypto, according to Julian Sawyer, Gemini’s Managing Director (MD) for Europe.
Unlike previous recessions, this one has had an impact across the whole ecosystem of the economy – across generations, jobs, classes, skill levels – even the ‘jobs for life’ have been affected, the MD of the crypto exchange told Cryptonews.com. Yet, it may potentially benefit crypto. Sawyer gave two possible scenarios that are going to play out in people’s effort to protect themselves, having witnessed the risks of unemployment and doubting the government’s support:
- people will save more;
- people will want to own their financial lives, instead of relying solely on their employer and government, which will lead to more investing – and this is where some will look into crypto assets as part of their investment strategy, whether that’s from an institutional, regulator, or individual perspective.
“I can see this being a turning point in terms of people’s attitude to money and thinking about money,” said Sawyer, adding that Gemini wants to play a role in this change.
There’s a couple of other major, correlated points leading crypto and blockchain onto the mainstream path as noted by Sawyer.
While just a couple of years ago, regulators and local authorities would be very suspicious, challenging, or cynical of this industry, things have “changed tremendously in terms of them and other players in the market.” Now, “institutions have understood and are understanding of the [blockchain] technology” and it’s “well accepted across financial services, not just in the cryptocurrency market, but in financial services,” as a possible solution to a number of problems.
When it comes to crypto, the regulators across Europe and across many major financial services markets “are understanding what this means, they understand the risks and are understanding of what the criteria are for supervision of regulated companies.” There is a general understanding now that ‘this is going to happen,’ so the question they ask isn’t ‘should we do this,’ but ‘how do we do this,’ said Sawyer.
Another point leading to the blockchain / crypto adoption is people switching from the traditional to this new industry, thus creating a bridge between the two worlds. Gemini has hired people from banking, financial services, fintech, payments, etc., including Sawyer himself, and those type of hires are “helping to legitimize this product.” Before joining the crypto exchange, Sawyer was Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at one of the UK’s largest mobile banks — Starling Bank.
Thinking global, acting local
As for Gemini in Europe, the Managing Director said that, since crypto is a 24/7 global market, they won’t be creating a ‘European exchange,’ but a global exchange with a local presence. They have a single exchange with all of the tech run out of New York, and are in the process of getting their regulatory permissions in Europe. They applied last year, establishing “a very engaging relationship” with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. “We see regulation as absolutely critical in this industry. When we’re going into a market, we get regulated first, and then we launch,” he said, adding: “I am hoping that it isn’t going to be too long, because we’re ready to go.”
Sawyer added that Gemini’s "effectively got our three offices in the US, with New York as our biggest office, and this [UK-based one] is our first overseas office. So that shows the importance of Europe in our strategy and outcomes.”
As for the differences between these two markets, the MD named the onboarding process, particularly the customer verification process, the know-your-customer (KYC) within the anti-money laundering (AML) process, while there may potentially be different products available down the line, depending on the demand of local customers.
As reported in May, major investment bank JPMorgan Chase welcomed Gemini and Coinbase as their first crypto clients.
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