FinTech, People

Chat with Fintechs: Chris Long Founder of Cryptotrader Singapore

August 24, 2017

A Former DCM Banker and his views on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

Just recently, my partner wrote an article on Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and ICO: the digital age or another digital bubble in the making? Like many others, he is skeptical of the likes of Bitcoins, Ethereum and ICOs, and perhaps rightly so, as he and many others have no clear idea about the mechanics and market dynamics of such digital currencies. We had the chance to speak to Chris Long, a former DCM (Debt Capital Markets) banker, who founded Cryptotrader.sg and I’m eager to hear and learn about the subject from a first-hand professional.

Chris Long was a former DCM banker, working on average 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. The work was rewarding with many opportunities to meet super smart people and he worked on many large and high profile deals, but that exciting time came at the expense of sacrificing family time and relationships.

After a particularly draining month, where I worked for 30 days non-stop, I realize that it wasn’t for me. I am willing to work hard, but not at the expense of sacrificing family time and relationship.” Chris revealed, the former DCM banker now runs Cryptotrader.sg, one of the first firms providing training for cryptocurrency investments.

And that was what motivated Chris to “search hard to alternatives” and research into bitcoin and other cryptocurrency investments.

After months of research, he became convinced of the potential and decided to invest in cryptocurrencies together with a few close friends. Chris managed to get a good return from his investments, and his friends convinced him that more people need to be educated on cryptocurrency investments.

With the support of his friends, Chris then decided to start cryptotrader.sg, with the vision of helping every man better understand bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and sharing knowledge about how to invest in them. His personal view is that even though “markets are a little overheated now”, in the long run there will be greater adoption of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, and it would “make sense that citizens in countries whose currency experience hyper-inflation shift from fiat to cryptocurrencies.”

On the topic of risk in investing in cryptocurrencies, he believes in “only investing in what you can afford to lose”.

The biggest risk in cryptocurrencies investments is allocating too much capital to this particular vehicle,” he adds. “And especially so if you do not fully understand what it is.

That is why Chris hopes to educate more people before they invest in the cryptocurrencies.

However, Chris admits his journey of starting Cryptotrader.sg is not an easy one, as there are still many uncertainties. In a start-up, “you never know when and where your next paycheck is coming”. Even so, “despite the lack of a stable paycheck, I’m loving the adventure,” he says.

Read the full transcript of our interview with Chris Long below.cryptocurrencies

Chat with Cryptotrader.sg: Chris Long, Founder 

TFAGeeks: Hi Chris, thanks for taking time to grant us a short interview. You were previously working as a DCM (Debt Capital Markets) banker in Investment Banking before you started Cryptotrader.sg. Could you share with us how you got started in cryptocurrencies, and what prompted you to start Cryptotrader.sg?

Chris: Hi Dick, it’s my pleasure! Yes I was previously in bond origination and working significantly long hours. Work hours would span between 14 – 18 hours per day, and I’d be in the office at least 6-7 days per week. After a particularly draining month, where I worked for 30 days non-stop, I realize that it wasn’t for me. I am willing to work hard, but not at the expense of sacrificing family time and relationship. That was what prompted me to search hard to alternatives and I chanced upon a Bitcoin article on CNBC. I remembered it being $1 when I first heard of it, and knowing it grew to more than $1000 (at that time), I got curious

After much research, I’m convinced of its potential and invested. I shared the details with a few of my closer friends and they invested along with me. Needless to say, we managed to get a very good return, and my friends convinced me that there was a need for more people to be educated in Cryptocurrency investments. That’s how Cryptotrader.sg got started

TFAGeeks: You run courses on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies for Cryptotrader.sg. What will you say is the main differentiating factor between Cryptotrader.sg offerings and your competitors? And could you share with us more about what you will cover in your trainings, and any future plans for Cryptotrader.sg?

Chris: It’s difficult to say what’s different between my competitors and I, namely because I do not know of many competitors. I believe I am one of the first few trainers in Singapore, and maybe even in South East Asia, providing training for Cryptocurrency investments. My niche is the ability to teaching something complex and making it easy to understand and fun for my clients! There will be games integrated in the training, to help anyone better understand what Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are, and how to go about investing in them.

The vision of Cryptotrader is to help every man on the street understand what Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are, and also to empower/educate our clients to benefit from them.

TFAGeeks: I guess you had read my Partner’s post on Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoins and ICOs, and like many others he remains skeptical about them. In recent months, Bitcoin, Ethereum and lately bitcoin cash have made huge gains in the markets. What are your views on the recent craze in cryptocurrencies? Do you think that digital currency will replace the major fiat currencies or is this just another digital bubble in the making?

Chris: Haha, what exactly is a “digital bubble”? I find this question hard to answer. When Bitcoin grew from $1 – $100, some called it a bubble. It happened again when it went from $100 – $500, and then again it was $500, $1,000, $2,000 and now above $4000! My personal view though, is that the markets are a little overheated with too much media coverage, so I expect corrections to come. However in the long run (1-2 years or more), I do anticipate more adoption of the block chain technology and Cryptocurrencies. It would make sense that citizens, in countries whose currency experience hyper-inflation, to shift from fiat to cryptocurrencies.

TFAGeeks: Since you are in the Cryptocurrency camp, do you think it will be legal tender in Singapore anytime soon? If not, what are the challenges that you foresee and how would you promote its acceptance?

Chris: The loose definition of Cryptocurrency is “a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.”

Based on that definition, I believe Cryptocurrencies will not be legal tender since it operates “independently of a central bank”. However I understand that Singapore is developing something called Project Ubin, with the eventual goal of developing simpler to use and more efficient alternatives to today’s systems based on digital central bank issued tokens.

TFAGeeks: There are currently over 900 alternative coins in the Internet, and the danger of scams is real. What are the major risks that an investor should look out for if he wants to invest in cryptocurrencies?

Chris: Worst case scenario. Only invest what you can afford to lose, since cryptocurrencies still fall under alternative investments. Also, only invest if you understand what you are investing in. Broadly speaking, I believe the biggest risk in cryptocurrencies investments, is allocating too much capital to this particular vehicle, and especially so if you do not fully understand what it is.

TFAGeeks: Various governments are starting to take notice of cryptocurrencies and are stepping up their game in cryptocurrency regulations. Do you think the trend of increasing regulations will negatively affect usage of cryptocurrencies?

Chris: I actually think regulation would help, especially in ICOs. Some form of regulation should be done, to prevent scams from happening, however I believe that something as fluid as cryptocurrencies would be difficult to regulate as there are many ways to go around the “system”. For example, how would one regulate the Internet? Unless governments behave like China, and produce a “great firewall”. Even so, we read and hear about ways to go around this.

TFAGeeks: Do you have any advice for aspirants who wish to join a startup? What are the qualities apart from the technical hard skills that he/she should possess?

Chris: Passion, Faith and Grit. It’s pretty uncertain, as you never know when and where your next paycheck is coming. I’m very fortunate to have met great mentors, and amazing people during the start of my journey. And so far, despite the lack of a stable paycheck, I’m loving the adventure.

about author

Lee is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Finance at INSEAD. Prior to his Master’s, he has worked for about five years in the treasury and accounting space. He graduated from SMU with a double degree in Accountancy and Finance, and is also a Chartered Accountant (Singapore). Other than building Excel spreadsheets and poring through annual reports, he spends his time reading and watching sci-fi movies.