How FTX is Bridging the Crypto Knowledge Gap – Juwon
In this interview, Adebayo Juwon, Business Development Manager (Africa) at FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency / digital assets exchanges, speaks with BusinessDay’s Opeyemi Kalejaiye about how FTX is educating people on cryptocurrency in Africa, what it takes to run a trading platform in Africa, the challenges involved and ways to better create a crypto-friendly environment.
What is your Campus ambassador program about?
The campus ambassador program is an initiative that has been going on for about 2 years now. The program was launched to bring the best of blockchain and cryptocurrency education to students in Africa. Primarily, the aim is to enable them to understand what these concepts and technology are all about, what can be learnt from them, their advantages and the job opportunities available in the space. We are all aware that learning happens on campuses but so far, no African college/University has deemed it fit to include blockchain or crypto education into their curriculum. We intend to reach out to as many campuses as possible because we truly believe that it’s in the best interest of young people and students to understand this technology, its application and use cases before they move into the real world.
What platforms are used to educate students about cryptocurrency?
We have successfully organised both physical and virtual events for this purpose. We start by educating the students about the basics because it can get really technical as you advance in the learning process. We mention the key points and topics that students need to familiarise themselves with. After all these which happens physically, we then provide some mentorship for those present so we can follow up on their progress and development regarding what was taught, and provide some sort of guidance. This happens primarily online and is a continuous process.
What challenges do you face with carrying out operations in Africa?
There are quite a few, but I think the lack of a clear regulatory framework about the cryptocurrency industry / how cryptos should work tops that list. But as an organisation, we are confident and will continue to liaise with stakeholders in order to move this space forward. It is important to note that FTX is the most regulated crypto exchange in the world, with the most licenses across the global market. We are the most regulatory compliant exchange so we try as much as possible to follow the rules and regulations of each country we operate in.
What are your expansion plans for the next 5 years?
There is a lot on the table which we have mapped out. But I think what’s key for us within this time frame is for Africa to be more regulatory and cryptocurrency-friendly. We intend to have some clear guidelines on how the cryptocurrency industry is going to operate and we are willing and ready to work with regulators to make this happen. Hopefully, this is going to be a reality sooner than later. We believe that this would help not just FTX but the whole crypto industry reach out to as many Africans as possible who would benefit from what crypto and blockchain technology provides. and also help them move their funds around the exchange with their local currency
What would you say is the reach of FTX in Africa?
FTX is less than three years old and in its first two years, we operated organically with no marketing activities. Today, we are amongst the top three exchanges in the world by volume. We also rank very high in the share of voice and media list among global competitors within the African market. And we wouldn’t be here without the African market. In our region in particular, the past year has seen us grow our community from nothing to over tens of thousands thousand across social media. Our users and customers, team members and brand assets have also grown significantly.
What can Nigeria/Africa do to be more crypto-friendly and also meet the global trend in developed countries?
It starts with those at the helm of affairs. The government has to be more responsive and open to new ideas, and understand how things work, have open-ended communication with the service providers in the crypto space. They also need to work with these service providers to make crypto investments safe for those willing to participate in them. As soon as this is cleared up, a lot of people would be more confident to explore this space.
What country case studies are there that Nigeria can learn from to better regulate crypto in such a way that it does not stifle the players?
We have some countries adopting the crypto economy in order to boost their current financial situations. El Savador has been quite open about crypto adoption. The Bahamas where FTX is headquartered is also becoming a crypto haven and a perfect example of a nation taking a front seat in mapping out a clear regulatory framework for digital assets. Recently, we’ve also had the Central African Republic and a few other African nations tilting more towards crypto adoption. It’s a good sign because the CAR crypto news is the first move we’ve had towards positive crypto regulation on the continent. Nigeria with the largest population in Africa can also take a cue from some of these countries. It’s simply a matter of being open to financial evolution and development. We can’t stick our foot on the ground and just expect growth. The government should keep an open hand and be ready to learn and make adjustments towards crypto and also lead to it being regulated to fit the Nigerian economy.
How has the use case for FTX evolved over time and why is the company so appealing to traders at this time?
FTX has been existing for 3 years now. Everyone in crypto pretty much know what FTX is all about at this point. There are multiple use cases and also lots of products on FTX.com, and all these drive users to FTX. For a start, we have the most friendly liquidation engine and also a friendly user interface. We have a very responsive customer service and hundreds of tradable crypto assets. We also have tokenised stocks, which really was the first in the industry. FTX is the most innovative crypto platform out there. We have developed tons of products which have later got widely accepted in the space, tokenised stocks being part of it, move contracts, and so many others. The NFT Industry has been booming with FTX US been at the forefront of incorporating an NFT Marketplace into our platform. This has also been a major driving force for tons of people to use the FTX platform, not just to trade cryptos but also to be active in NFTs either as artists or collectors.