With blockchain and crypto continuing to dominate the headlines throughout the year, FCS West decided to take a deep dive to help our members and industry colleagues learn more. Staging a breakfast in San Francisco back on March 19, we invited four experienced marketers to serve as panelists and, frankly, teachers. They were:
- Hunter Horsley, Co-Founder & CEO, Bitwise Asset Management
- Austin Trombley, Vice President, Franklin Templeton Investments
- David Bickford, Managing Director, CoinDesk
To moderate the panel, we invited Matthew De Silva, a reporter for Quartz, to join us well.
Here are key takeaways from the discussion:
- Austin Trombley’s point of view is that not all innovation in the crypto space is good – but the growing adoption is a really good sign overall for the industry.
- Hunter Horsley stressed that crypto is very relevant to every investor. He also expressed that as things stand now, there really is too much detail and too much nuance in the investment opportunities for the average retail investor, so the value of an intermediary that understands the industry is important. The panel responded that many intermediaries aren’t even allowed to discuss cryptocurrencies as an investment opportunity for their client, but they all agreed that it’s generally best to consult with someone rather than just jumping in.
- “It's important to stress how early we are. We're 10 years in with this technology, and it will probably take another 10+ years to see the results in its effectiveness,” said David Bickford. Thinking about the time it took after the initial dot com bubble bursting to today’s economy driven by companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, it’s going to take time for both blockchain and crypto to be broadly seen as more mainstream.
- As the industry currently expands and grows, Trombley said, “I think it will get more complex to invest in crypto and you will need more advice to do so. Bitcoin alone has 50 different types – from Bitcoin red to Bitcoin blue. A novice investor will have no idea what the difference is between them.” “Every blockchain is different – they all have different rules, they have different strategies and they have different players,” agreed Bickford.
- Matthew De Silva asked “How does regulation influence the current crypto market in terms of taxation?” One perspective, from Bickford, is that throughout history, regulation follows innovation. In this case, regulation is happening in the space (like with ICOs), though it is slow as the government is trying to be careful as to not classify these technologies in the wrong bucket.
- A question from the audience posed to the panel: “What are the necessary steps to get to the mass adoption of crypto?” Trombley weighed in that it will take some form of insurance and a large retail name that is able to scale it and provide clarity to the broader audience as the two things needed for crypto to grow. There have to be mechanisms in place for more broader investors to feel secure. Additionally, the panel felt that the mass adoption would actually come from outside the US as there are billions of people on the planet who are potentially un-banked, or at least under-banked, and cryptocurrencies (accessed via ubiquitous mobile devices, rather than brick and mortar banks) represent a massive opportunity to reach these customers.
PHOTO BELOW (l to r): DeSilva, Horsley, Trombley, Bickford.