Andy Cheung is Head of Operations at OKEx, one of the industry’s leading crypto exchanges. With a storied career including stints at tech giants, Andy is now spearheading the exchange to the top of the crypto world just two years after launch.

We spoke to Andy about how he got into the industry, how OKEX distinguishes itself in the competitive crypto market, how Asian markets differ from those in the West, and the roadmap ahead for OKEx.

CryptoGlobe: How did you get into crypto?

Andy Cheung: I am always fascinated by revolutionary technologies or innovations, which gives me the passion to lead businesses to success. From past experience, it was always the new ideas that kept me working tirelessly.

I bought my first Bitcoin in 2013, because a lot of my tech-savvy friends introduced me to the world of cryptocurrency. At the very beginning, I thought it was just a kind of digital money, and the heavy workload when I was at previous company, didn’t really allow me to dig deeper into the technology.

Until one day, when I was alone at a café in Chicago, waiting for a conference to begin, a friend of mine sent me a copy of the Bitcoin white paper. Though I liked reading it, I wasn’t really nerdy enough to read white papers. Somehow, I decided to give it a go before the conference started. That’s when I got hooked on blockchain technology.

In 2017, with my experience in startups, I helped OKEx to get started. I won’t say I’m a tech person. I’m still learning more about the technology every day through conversations with our engineers and developers. I do have a lot to contribute in terms of management and the business development of the company. I’m proud of where we are at right now less than two years after launching.

CG: How does OKEx see its role? What are OKEx’s core values and beliefs?

AC: We are those who believe in a blockchain-empowered economy. We believe a fair and transparent financial ecosystem built on blockchain is our future.

By developing OKChain and fostering other related blockchain developments, we are promoting the growth of the industry and utilizing resources to foster a new economy built on blockchain technology, while promoting financial inclusion.

We are here to build a comprehensive and safe decentralized financial system that allows anyone in the world to access it. Nowadays the financial system is a silo, it’s clumsy and expensive.

Over 5 billion people, a large part of the global population, have no bank account or no access to financial services. Financial inclusion is crucial in helping people save money for an emergency, get loans to start businesses, and escape poverty.

Decentralized finance can substantially lower the operational costs and speed up settlement, which can better serve a mass audience to allow it to fully access to financial market. We want to achieve a robust decentralized digital asset marketplace by building a fully-fledged financial instrument using blockchain technology in order to reduce counterparty risk and increase efficiency.

CG: The exchange space is increasingly competitive, how does OKEx distinguish itself?

AC: First, innovation.

We continue to invest in developing blockchain technology. We develop products according to customers’ needs and suggestions to offer them the best trading experience available in the industry.

At OKEx, users can trade spot and derivatives at one place, which is not possible for the majority of exchanges out there. We offer diverse trading products to help users optimize their strategies, including the recent launch of perpetual swap trading. This sets us apart from other exchanges.

Second, security will always be our priority. We will continue to work tirelessly to provide a safe, reliable, and stable environment for digital asset trading on the web. With a comprehensive security system no major security issues, hacks, and asset losses have ever taken place on OKEx.

At OKEx, we will continue to push the industry standard and be an example for the industry, be ethical, transparent, and self-regulated so as to tackle the unique challenge in the crypto industry.

CG: How did the 2018 bear market affect OKEx?

AC: The market has fluctuated drastically since the creation of Bitcoin, but 2018 certainly was the longest crypto winter.

With one of the biggest futures trading volumes in the market, the 2018 bear run still left us as a vigorous platform that allowed users to continue following their investment strategy and hedge their positions.

OKEx has kept its leading position among other exchanges, with the reputation and credibility to sustain it at all times. In general, OKEx didn’t suffer hugely from the bear market.

CG: Do you think the boom-bust of 2017/18 was a net positive or negative for the industry?

AC: Looking at the performance throughout 2017/18, we have seen numerous booms and busts as time went by, however, taking a macro-view, the trend appears to be positive. For some time during the 2017, there were lots of projects popping up and as exchanges, we’re always acting as a gatekeeper that’s having to only launch the best of the best projects.

I think the industry gained massively in terms of market awareness.

CG: How do Asian crypto traders and users differ from those in the West?

AC: We have made our current expansion priority the European market as we have seen that Western countries have been quite open to adopting cryptocurrencies and setting up legal frameworks to either foster the use of this ever-evolving asset class.

Despite specific differences, we think crypto traders mostly possess an advanced adventurous and open-ended spirit when it comes to new technology.

CG: What is on OKEx’s roadmap for the rest of 2019 and beyond?

AC: There are always three main focuses–

  1. Promote technological breakthroughs in Blockchain, and support blockchain community in its growth
  2. Advance our product suite in order to build a comprehensive and safe decentralized financial system which enables better access for everyone globally
  3. Cultivate a fair and transparent trading market - helping it become self-regulated, and guiding the industry to operate in a more compliant way

You will hear more big announcements from us soon. Just stay tuned.