OKCoin CEO Tim Byun on Crypto Markets, Institutional Investment, and OKCoin Future

The OKCoin exchange, recently having launched OKCoin Premier, an exclusive program aimed at high-volume crypto traders, is a leading fiat-focused exchange.
We interviewed OKCoin’s CEO, Tim Byun, for his thoughts on the many developments that have happened since the start of the year. Byun had previously spoken to IIB about what could end the bear market. Coincidentally, this particular interview comes at a time when the bear market is seemingly over, with the prospects of the market looking better than ever.
1. Do you agree with people like Tom Lee, who said a “fair price” of Bitcoin would be about $14,000? What, in your opinion, is the fair price of Bitcoin?
As we can tell from price activity over the last couple of years, it’s difficult to credibly state what Bitcoin’s fair price is. OKCoin is bullish on the long-term price, but it’s dependent on a lot of progress being made by the entire ecosystem. There are a lot of very smart people working on innovative solutions using blockchain technology, and we believe that the potential for the space, in general, has a tremendous upside.
2. There have been reports recently about exchanges misrepresenting trading volumes. Why would exchanges do that knowing it harms their reputation in the long run?
As a fiat-to-token trading platform, OKCoin works with regulated financial institutions to settle fiat transactions. We know our volume is material, as there are material amounts of US dollars (and soon Euros) being settled and executed through the banking system. We also work with a number of government bodies and regulators around the world to bring the highest level of safety and protection to our traders. Furthermore, reputation is very important to us and our reputation is being tested/exhibited every day as we meet the needs of our customers.
OKCoin has no comment on other exchanges.
3. Do you believe that the institutional investors will get into crypto via OTC and stablecoins?
Our sense is that institutional investors are still studying their needs and risk profile. Convertible virtual currencies should be viewed as an alternative asset class. We hope that Bitcoin will become a currency as common as the US dollar, Euro, Korean Won or Japanese Yen, but presently, it’s more of a digital asset or digital good. One day, institutional investors will see it as such, or similar to gold, and will conclude their own needs of this exciting asset.
4. Many people predict another recession might soon occur as the stocks regularly reach new all-time highs and the US debt rises at an alarming rate. Do you think people will try to hedge in Bitcoin or is it more likely the majority will turn to gold and other commodities?
While some may decide a hedge into gold or other commodities is sound for an upcoming recession, I believe that Bitcoin is a hedge in global crises (economic, social, or political) or other unknowns (such as a recession that occurs unexpectedly or rapidly). I also believe Bitcoin is a good substitute for gold; however, both are good against high inflation.
5. Ripple’s CEO commented on the 2,000 crypto projects we have now in the space: “Most of them, the vast vast majority [of cryptocurrencies] are going to go away, and it’s because a lot of them were created with either an unclear use case or a use case that hasn’t proven out. And you already see that to some degree because there is no liquidity. Ultimately in the digital asset space, liquidity is critical to success.” Do you agree that a crypto purge is yet to come?
I think the purge has occurred in 2018 and there will be more as the projects are like small businesses that have a high propensity to fail, though some or a few will do very well. Another good example of this occurred in the dotcom era with e-commerce startups. I would accept the quote above if the term “liquidity” represents traction, which will be evident when the projects deliver value or good uses.
6. What spurred the team to create OKCoin Premier and who is OKCoin’s biggest competitor in this particular field?
One common complaint from traders of all sizes was they couldn’t communicate with real people at the exchanges they traded on. We thought it would be an extremely valuable differentiator if we granted highly active traders access to individual account support, along with unique market benefits such as a 90-minute payment processing guarantee.
In terms of competition, since we are a fiat-to-token exchange, our competitors are BitFinex, BitStamp, Kraken, Coinbase Pro, and similar exchanges.
7. How is 2019 shaping up for OKCoin? What are your major goals for the year?
This year has gone quite well so far. We’ve seen a noticeable uptick in trading activity and active participants on the exchange. We continue to acquire money transmitter licenses, and we continue to refine our product to make it enjoyable for new and old users. Our main goals include further improvements to our product offering to customers of all kinds.
8. Can you reveal some interesting numbers or facts that occurred on your exchange around the recent spike from $4k to $5.6k? For example, have many old accounts been reactivated or was there a significant number of new signups?
We don’t comment on the specific number of users gained or lost during any trading period, but as you can see by publicly available data, our trading platform activity grew along with that of the market, and in fact, exceeded the general market. For that reason, we continue to be optimistic about the direction we’ve chosen.