Decentralized finance (DeFi) is fulfilling the services of traditional finance (or TradFi), in a completely permissionless, global and transparent manner. And on the forefront of the DeFi revolution, Linear Finance ($LINA) is bringing out a cheap, quick, and transparent synthetic asset exchange platform.
With Linear, users can essentially make their own portfolio exposures and manage them on their own. In months, Linear has completed its first cross-chain integration with Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and a mainnet launch of its products, gaining traction with a fast-growing user base. At the time of writing (18 Mar), Linear’s token $LINA is going to be listed on Binance’s Innovation Zone.
But, besides all of that, who is behind the scenes of the promising platform?
Recently we spoke with Kevin Tai, Linear’s co-founder and CEO. We talked about how he jumped from Standard Chartered, BNP, Credit Suisse, to the cryptosphere, and what is the future of DeFi, from a TradFi-turned-DeFi entrepreneur.
Linear’s DeFi Hong Kong Element
Tai began his time in the financial sphere after he obtained an MBA degree in Corporate Finance and Real Estate in Harvard Business School. From Standard Chartered Bank, BNP Paribas, to Credit Suisse, Tai spent a decade in the financial industry, focusing on securitized debt and other instruments. Before founding Linear, he was the APAC Head of Private Debt of Mirae Asset Global Investments based in Hong Kong.
“In 2017, I started mining Bitcoin, helping other miners build FPGA bitstreams to mine small altcoins. Then I started investing into projects, and that’s my foray into crypto and eventually into DeFi.”
With the talents of its core team, Linear is combining the best of two worlds – TradFi and Tech & East and West. Tai joins hands with another co-founder and CTO Drey Ng (a graduate of HKU), who was previously CPO of Hong Kong-based STO platform Liquefy. Also, Jonathan Lei, a graduate from HK Polytechnic University (PolyU), leads the blockchain development of Linear.
“I Don’t Have Development Experience.”
“I wish I took more computer science classes if I could go back to university time,” said Tai, who was a graduate of UC Berkeley, studying Corporate Finance and Accounting. Speaking from a TradFi’s background, Tai suggests anyone who wants to work in DeFi to study Solidity, Ethereum’s programming language, to learn how to build smart contracts – the fundamental building block of DeFi.
Would that be a standard requirement for talents Linear looking to hire? “I’ll be honest with you, right now we look for people with TradFi backgrounds, (that they can) build out products and portfolios, and with a general understanding of tech.”
Linear’s talent strategy strengthens the platform’s focus on bridging out a growing list of assets to Linear, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, as well as traditional assets like gold and silver.
“Our users can come onto our protocol, essentially stake their Linear tokens and generate a stablecoin, which they can use to purchase synthetic assets and trade synthetic assets,” said Tai. “So we have Liquid Bitcoin, Liquid ETH, Liquid Gold, Liquid Silver, and two large-cap crypto indicee products.”
On TradFi Bankers: “God Bless Them.”
DeFi applications, such as synthetic assets, could be at the verge of challenging traditional finance actors on various fronts. “DeFi is essentially intermediating… I wouldn’t say getting rid of, but taking the place of large financial institutions.”
With the vision of a new financial system, working in DeFi is the new cool: “Five years ago, it was hip to be an investment banker, or hip to be a consultant,” he said. “This time, it’s not, it is hip to be an entrepreneur, right? And it seems it was the dotcom days.”
What’s the biggest takeaway from Tai’s journey from a TradFi veteran to a DeFi entrepreneur?
“I think in traditional finance, you really have a set role and you really wear one hat. People can tell you, hey, I work at Goldman or Morgan, I run a team and it’s very entrepreneurial – I think that’s really bullshit. God bless them in terms of what they want to do and their current role in the financial space, but running a project, particularly running a crypto project is absolutely 180 from that… And crypto itself is just crazy in general.”
By that he refers to 24/7, all-around communication with users, and the considerably more responsibility he has to the team and the community.
Watch the full interview:
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