Crypto Exchange ZB.com’s Omar Chen: How Online Crypto Trading Altered The Market Forever
(Photo : Omar Chen)

While the concept of cryptocurrency has been around since 1983, it's experienced most of its growth in the past 5-10 years alone. The idea of money that only existed online was a huge novelty when it first showed up on the market. Similar to the logic behind casino chips, people had to use real cash to buy crypto, but they could then use it to purchase online products or services. The difference here was that these funds were literally untraceable by any government or issuing bank. This was peak internet era thinking at play.

So successful was cryptocurrency over time that as of April 5th, 2021 the crypto market was sitting at around USD$2 trillion. Added to that was that this market was split into over 1,800 cryptocurrency specifications all over the world.

One of the big players in the space is ZB.com. A crypto exchange platform with over 10 million users worldwide, services in 12 languages, and over $160 billion dollars in trading since its inception in 2013. We sat down with CEO Omar Chen to talk about what makes ZB.com such a key player to keep an eye on, and what his thoughts are on how crypto has changed the financial investing market forever. 

Hi Omar, it's great to finally meet you! After all the research we did to prep for this interview, it feels like you're an old friend by now.

It's my pleasure! And I'm glad to be able to add one more friendly face to my workdays. Relationship building is important in business.

I couldn't agree more! Let's jump right into it. You've been in the investment and marketing industries for almost 15 years now, and also hold a master's degree in Computer Applications. With all that experience and knowledge, what do you think are the most important learnings you were able to apply when it came to creating ZB.com?

Before founding ZB Group I worked for about 10 years at Huawei. They're a multinational technology company that's been around since 1987, so they know what they're doing. As a company, the Huawei culture is very customer-centric, and employee dedication levels is a close second in importance for them.

While I was there I worked within the Marketing department as part of the management team. One of my favorite aspects during my time there was being able to work in several of the overseas locations. I was lucky enough to be a part of the European, Middle Eastern, North African, and Southeast Asian teams.

Not only did I get to experience how Huawei's culture impacted the company directly, but I also got to see how the nuances and differences of each country I visited added to the overall system. The takeaways from that are probably the most important learnings I continue to apply today while running ZB.com.

As an example, we offer 24/7 customer service since we know the crypto industry never sleeps. Our employees are also incredibly passionate about the company, which makes a huge difference in how they interact with customers. Our engineers have been known to work through the night in order to launch new features on time and to ensure a fast response when it comes to helping the front-line team.

ZB.com is almost 10 years old and has never had any type of fund security accident. This is an extremely important aspect when it comes to people choosing what platform to invest with. What helped you create this level of airtight safety for your customers?

I really do believe it's all thanks to the team in charge of that aspect of the company. Without them, things would probably be quite less efficient. They're on duty 24hrs a day and have an incredibly strict control process.

From a more technical point of view, more than 80% of our user funds are encrypted via AES-256 and through split redundancy (which basically means we break it down into small pieces, and store all of those separately so if something does happen not everything ends up being affected). They're also saved offline and physically isolated from the main network, which greatly improves the fund's security levels.

To top it all off, and since you can never be too safe, we also have a security system installed equipped with an alarm system and real-time monitoring to alert us of any strange movements. 

Your company is clearly very in tune with your customer's needs. You offer applicable free transaction fees and VIP rates for API users. What other things set ZB.com apart when it comes to being customer-focused?

I think nowadays, customers are a lot savvier when it comes to knowing what they want from a company like ours. While we already support Visa, Mastercard, and Apple Pay as payment methods we've also recently launched a zero rate currency purchase option in partnership with Banxa. It's important for us to remove any barriers our users might encounter when trading.

We also understand the value of responding to what people are asking for and keeping communication lines open with our clients. A big difference between the ZB.com app and other trading apps is that we have incorporated a community chat function to meet users' needs. Given how much the market can change on the daily, this allows us to stay in tune with what people want. At the moment we have over 6500 community boards linked to each token which are checked regularly by our team.

Because of that, for example, we discovered that diversification of currencies had been a hot topic for people. So, we launched several MEME coins like Sdog, Akita, and Shib to name a few.

Both Coinbase and Greyscale are huge crypto asset manager platforms that have taken a big chunk out of the market. With over $223 billion and $40.3 billion in assets respectively, these companies are top of their game. What do you think makes them so successful?

In my humble opinion, Coinbase's success has a lot to do with the foresight of its management team. They were the first in their industry to receive an official Bitcoin exchange license in 2015, which opened the door for cryptocurrency to be officially recognized in the US. They clearly understood that this legal recognition would be necessary in order to expand the impact of digital currencies within North America. Today, the cryptocurrency market is thriving because of the work Coinbase did back then to bring Bitcoin onto the main stage of the trading world.

Greyscale, on the other hand, became successful because they made the concept of crypto trading something anyone could be a part of. Many ordinary users in the US choose to buy Grayscale's cryptocurrency products because they can be purchased through traditional brokers and retirement accounts. The level of convenience they could provide was unparalleled. They also had some pretty cool side benefits in terms of taxing each exchange, asset custody, and fund transferability.

Some of the projects ZB.com has listed have been reviewed and favored by both Grayscale and Coinbase. In your opinion, what made ZB.com's offerings catch their eye?

The crypto market is still in an overall state of constant development. It's a very new niche within the trading industry and there's not a ton of previous knowledge that people or companies can reference. Because of this, both good and bad projects tend to go hand and hand, since it's still hard to tell them apart.

Big names like Greyscale and Coinbase tend to go where the buzz is. And this year, as I talked about a bit above, at ZB.com we really focused on following where the wind was taking us. I think at this point, the industry is incredibly demand-driven, and because we went where the demand was that put us on the big boy's radar.

Touching a bit more on Coinbase and Greyscale, they've obviously infected the market and impacted it immensely. What do you think are the biggest legacies their imprint has left when it comes to financial investing?

They're absolutely the fathers of crypto investing if you ask me. Coinbase as a successful pioneer in terms of legal compliance, and Grayscale in terms of opening up cryptocurrency investment products to ordinary investors. If there is a lesson here for late-coming companies in this field, it's to really look at the long-term view of the market, consider the needs of their investors, and lower the threshold for investing in digital currencies.

As an investment management platform, ZB.com clearly follows the mainstream trends shown in the crypto space. How do you see these trends changing within the next little while?

As more countries open up to the idea of Bitcoin-based Index Funds and more and more trust funds allocate BTC as a stored value asset, I think Crypto and Blockchain's global acceptance will continue to climb. BTC trading quadrupled in just the past year alone, and its overall market price has fluctuated between USD$30K and USD$40K during the same time.

I'm pretty sure BTC is likely to reach another price height of USD$200K in the next three years or so. Crypto still has a lot of potentials, but it's also important to remember that it does fluctuate a lot and so it carries with it a lot of risks still.

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