Following the FTX fall out, and with crypto currency under more scrutiny than ever, we spoke to industry expert Katharine Wooller of crypto exchange Dacxi.
We got to discuss the importance of making crypto credible, the industry’s “bad players”, and Katharine’s advice for women and non-binary people who want to break into the industry.
Can you tell us a bit about Dacxi and your role there?
So Dacxi is a crypto exchange, where you can change your pounds or euros into crypto. We’re a bit different from other exchanges for a few reasons. Firstly, because we don’t help traders, we help people who want to hold, so it’s much more catered for wealth builders. Secondly, the majority of exchanges will use what they hold on your behalf to lend, very similar to banks. But at Dacxi, we hold 98% of your crypto offline, and it’s insured. We’re also committed to building credible crypto. Lots of exchanges have hundreds of coins, but we don’t. We have about 15 which we support and think are genuinely credible.
And what about your role?
I’ve been there for nearly three years, and I was hire number 2 – so that means I’m responsible for anything in Europe – commercials, sales, marketing, regulation, compliance, operations… I sit on the board of the UK business and I sit on the global management team. So it’s been quite a wild ride actually.
What were the biggest challenges and surprises in your career journey to this point?
I’m 20 years into my career now, and I came from a traditional finance background. But I’ve always been interested in disruptive startups, because in my opinion, they’re the most interesting to work in. They move quicker, they’re changing the world for a better place, they fail fast and hard…
And I came from property into finance, worked with a lot of hedge funds and asset managers and old school banks and I found the pace of change positively glacial. I needed something quicker. Crypto, and Dacxi gives me all of that.
We’re seeing a lot of adverse press on crypto at the moment, how do you feel about the current news regarding FTX?
FTX has a number of inherent problems, there are bad players in every industry, and the answer to preventing that is regulation.
A lot of hardcore crypto fans are saying part of it’s decentralisation means no government interference – but that’s not right, it needs to be regulated to hold a stable value. If you want your crypto to be considered a reliable worth, regulation is key. There’s over 2,000 coins on the market at the moment and they’re not all credible. We need consolidation, and regulation in the industry.
We’re still in the very early stages of crypto at the moment, and there’s a lot of growing pains. Crypto isn’t going to come in and replace everything, it needs to complement and dove-tail what is already in place for payments and I’ve been saying that for about 4 years.
What do you see as the future of crypto-currency, what are the biggest opportunities in this space?
I really do believe there’s no industry that won’t be touched by blockchain in the next ten years. A bit like when your grandma says “computers won’t be a thing” it might feel new now, but it’s going to be part of our everyday lives in the future.
Crypto specifically might feel too risky for a lot of people right now, especially with the news we’re seeing, but fast forward five years, if we have a highly regulated and credible crypto offer, people might feel very differently.
Crypto is moving so quickly, and I think it’s only a matter of time before it becomes significantly more mainstream. Every major bank has crypto in their vaults, Amazon, Uber, Twitter – day in day out more people are coming on board.
Are there any specific use cases you think people will benefit from most?
Absolutely. I was in Abu Dhabi 10 days ago, I had some Dollars leftover that I wanted to change back to Sterling and then change into Dirham… and I was so busy I had to do it at the airport, and I got absolutely stiffed on the rate (and I also got stiffed on the credit card transactions I did over there!).
So the argument of crypto is that it will be a global currency, it will end the hegemony of the Dollar, and it will be a quicker faster more efficient way of moving value. And it’s probably more democratic – all you need is a smartphone to have access to crypto.
We’re championing the value of public speaking and publicity more broadly. Do you have an interview or an event you spoke at that was really valuable to you and Dacxi? What was it, and what did it do for you?
The first one you do is always so nerve wracking. So I’ve been on BBC News and BBC World News, and I was very proud to spread the message of credible crypto, especially in an environment that’s very “all or nothing” like crypto. I’m always thrilled to be asked about matters of crypto as an expert, and I’m really proud to be able to do that.
And finally, how do you feel about diversity in the industry?
When it comes to D&I I think it’s our responsibility to give back. Senior women in fintech are rare, but in Crypto it’s barely heard of, so any opportunity I get to give back and show people that women can get into crypto and be successful, I will do it. It strengthens the crowd and strengthens the industry.
If you’re privileged enough to have done well, you need to give back in my opinion. We cannot be what we cannot see. There’s a lot that can be done to move the needle, and not just with gender diversity. I think businesses are happy to talk about their diversity efforts, and tell a good story, but I want to know what are you doing to support women having children, what are your maternity and paternity leave policies, what’s your flexible working policy, what are you actually doing to help.
And finally, do you have any tips for women and non-binary people looking to get in crypto?
Just get educated, there’s huge amounts of free education that you can access. If you’re early in your journey it’s a great time to get into it and learn more from some of the resources available online. Reach out and ask for those favours and those introductions. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
*You can start your research journey at Dacxi LEARN, the custom-built education platform where you can find the resources you need to help build your Crypto Wealth confidently.