Ariel Ling, as the co-founder and COO of BitMax.io (BTMX.com), was invited to the interview by Fred Schebesta, the CEO of Crypto Finder (Finder.com). Ariel has 18-year progressive executive experience in strategic planning, business development, budgeting and financial analysis risk management, regulatory program implementation, and process improvement for operational efficiency. She has an in-depth understanding of capital market products (stocks, fixed income, foreign exchange) in financial services and the development of international banking strategic trends (M&A, market structure, regulatory reforms and their impact). Her lustrous career on Wall Street made this interview a popular link on YouTube.
F: Welcome Ariel
A: Thank you for having me.
F: A quick background that you guys can understand a long history of Wall Street. Ariel is the former American Head of the Liquidity and Investment Products of Deutsche Bank. She has a very lustrous career on Wall Street, and she is now the COO of BitMax.io exchange, a crypto-to-crypto exchange that serves non-US oversea users. Ariel, you guys had a successful token sale. And BitMax.io offers primary listing of tokens, market making for these tokens, mining of the native token, and obviously some investment products. Do you want to tell us a little about what you see at BitMax.io and what’s special about it?
A: I think BitMax.io is actually very special in this market, and our team is very proud of what we have built. First, as you mentioned, the 10 founding team members are all from Wall Street background. My partner, Dr. George Cao, and I, both of us are from a heavily equity trading environment. And my team, they are all quant team from buy-side and sell-side of the traditional finance. So one special thing about BitMax is that you could find very few exchanges in the crypto space that is built by the team with very much wall street mindset and trading background. That lends itself to the second point that is very unique about us, our technology platform. It is very much quant-driven. Because the guys were all from high frequency and quantitative systematic trading shops, when we designed the platform, we were really trying to make sure the platform was resilient and it can actually handle billions of volume, which actually came true when we launched the transaction mining. The first day, we actually had, within the first 24 hours, the trading volume of1.6 billion in notional; and our system didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, and didn’t shut down. This is very rare in any of today’s exchanges where you can frequently see the slowdown, the crash, and very bad user responses, especially with transaction mining exchange. Number three is what we are extremely proud of and all the users can see, the customer services. When people think about crypto exchanges, they think about, oh my god, either computers, or just “digital” or “binary”, right? But for us, customer service is really important. This is again, one main thing from Wall Street, all about the customer centric. So George, the CEO of this organization, actually stands behind the platform — almost 24*7 answering questions from the customers, seeking solutions for their issues, and basically being the best customer service for the entire crypto space. There was an article about him in Chinese with the title of that article of “the best customer service CEO”. That is also what he actually tells all of the team members, customer first. When you design a product, when you launch a system, and when you look at user needs, you look from their perspective, from how we can protect the users. When we look at primary listing, we only look after the high-quality projects because we want our users to have the best investment and trading experience. So №3 is absolutely the high quality customer service. So №1 it’s our background, our educational and professional experience; №2 is really our platform, resilient, high volume quantitative platform; and №3 is really about the quality customer-centric strategy.
F: Cool. Now it’s brutal market right now. Liqui Exchange in Ukraine just closed down. OKEx just removed 30 markets due to low liquidity. Now I guess the question is you guys have an interesting composition of your market and volume. Can you tell us about this mining and organic volume? Can you talk us through that?
A: Yes sure. I think this is tough market, and then, my background is actually a lot of trading management for the equity side as well as expanded later on into the fixed income side. So we come down to exchange that it’s all about liquidity; it’s all about volume. So if you look at the market right now, the volume is shrinking due to the market volatility; and from our perspective, that’s why we see the need for this particular transaction mining model to attract the liquidity, to initiate the customer acquisition, to rejuvenate the market with some liquidity provision program in place. So there was a huge amount when we launched the transaction mining. With the first day, like I said, we had 1.6 billion trading volume.
F: So that is one point six billion of volume?
A: Oh by the way, we launched on November 18th. I guess what happened subsequently was that Bitcoin had a bit of issue with their price crash. And then with the volatility, the liquidity actually vaporized quite a bit. So from the volume perspective, the liquidity perspective, we worked really hard from a customer perspective, from a listing project perspective. And we saw the dip in our volume, including transaction mining in the beginning of December. However, with all the primary listing schedule we’ve got, it’s like IPO — you list a stock, you list a token on exchange. We got the volume back. So in the month of January, when I looked at the trading volume, it was basically around approximation of 500 million per day, which was very good for this market. And we are not complacent about it. Like you said, I look at the composition of our volume, the driver of our volume, we are very much cognizant: one is about transaction mining which we can get into a bit more about how that works; second is about what is called organic, meaning the regular trading. So when you look at the performance metrics, the transaction mining aspect of it which has actually exponential growth, because of all the listing activities and all the incentives in terms of the programs that we have; and there’s the regular trading. So I would think the regular trading, no transaction mining just like any exchange, it’s like 5% of the total volume, which is still very good for the exchange which was launched in August, and running right into the bear market. We are extremely proud of that.
A: So I think you’ve asked a bit about the transaction mining and our token economics, right?
A: So, here’s what I want to explain. You know the team is coming from a traditional finance side, right? People always ask about what is so special about your token versus so many other tokens, right?
A: I have come up with a very interesting chart. Like I always explain to people, there is a traditional finance way, and there is the new way which is a more crypto way. But I always look at it from traditional finance way. So here is the chart we prepared.
A: This is actually the key slide that I presented in the World Digital Asset Conference in San Francisco just about a month and half ago. It is, from a traditional finance perspective, how we look at the token economics. It is a balance act between the business model and exchange market force. What I mean is, to think about token just like any stock IPO, there is the economic valuation behind it. Does this project make money? For exchange, our exchange business model is very simple. We are exchange; and we ask people to trade on our exchange, so we can make money from transaction fees.
A: So what we do is that the tokens actually really align the interests between the people who trade on exchange and the exchange. And we give them incentive to trade with us, to trade more. And there’s the second part of liquidity in terms of token. Where does the token come from? How does the token work? For transaction mining, it’s quite simple. Just like what the name says, the more you trade, the more you mine the token. This means, for every single trade you pay transaction fee. So instead of paying transaction fee, what you get is our token — if you have to pay 10-dollar transaction fee with the mining mode of trading, you actually get 10 dollar worth of our own utility token back.
A: First of all, you don’t have to pay the transaction fee, so it’s incentive for you to trade more; second, you also get the platform token, which is the utility token. And then this goes back again to my second point about how do you use the consumption model of your token, right?
A: It’s on the exchange. You pay the transaction fee, and now you’re getting the token. You have to use it. What’s the use of the token? You can use the token to pay for the further transaction fees; you can use token to actually get special benefits from a project listing. For example, we are launching margin product in about a week. As you know, when you trade margin, you have to pay interest as a risk management mechanism. So you can use our token to pay the interest. But again, BitMax.io is currently only for oversea users, not US residents.
F: Oh so you can use your token?
A: Yes! Actually you can get discount because you are using the platform token. And there’s also the membership. There are various ways to incentivize our users. I think just like any big exchanges that have those called Tiering Programs. If you are a big VIP, then your transaction fee gets discounted. So in our platform, you can use your platform token to get special membership to lower your transaction fee. And by the way, we are not giving away every single transaction fee we’ve got; so trading not every single pair is eligible for transaction mining. Again, we take it from a customer service perspective. We are looking at what people are scared of those days. Volatility, right? So, the trading pairs that are eligible for mining, are actually all related to stable coins. So, you can feel very safe to transact, to get the platform token, and to use your platform token to pay for your transaction fees that you have to pay on other trading pairs. It’s about ecosystem. It’s very healthy. So go back to this token. There’s an economic value, right? And there’s also the intrinsic value, the sustainability of your token which we just talked about, the ecosystem. And then, where the market force comes in, is really about the liquidity and depth.
F: Okay. So in terms of the supply and demand?
A: It’s where and why you use it. Where you use your token for, right? How do you get it and what you use it for. Intrinsic value goes back to your business model. Exchange is about liquidity. And then, the liquidity and market depth are very common terminologies in trading. So when you want to trade a stock, you want to trade a stock that has deep liquidity. In this particular case, it means there has to be enough of trading in terms of the token. It’s not only about my token or our token, but also about every single token that has listed on BitMax.io. We have a separate entity that looks after the market making, the liquidity of that. It’s the similar model like New York Stock Exchange. They have Designated Market Makers; what their jobs do is actually to provide liquidity to maintain a fair and orderly market.