Recap of Hacken Club’s First Fireside Chat with CoinGecko COO Bobby Ong

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Following our announcement of the establishment of Hacken Club, we have successfully held our first fireside chat event.

On 7 July 2020, we invited CoinGecko’s Co-Founder and COO Bobby Ong. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, CoinGecko is the world’s largest independent cryptocurrency price aggregator.

CoinGecko’s presence in the Hacken Club alongside Hacken Group CEO and Co-Founder Dyma Budorin led to a friendly and informative fireside chat, which also included a live Q&A session with the Hacken Club community.

CoinGecko’s Bobby Ong is the first guest that will visit the Hacken Club and we have many other guests lined up.

Stay tuned for more information that we will release soon!

Fireside Chat Transcript

We have compiled the fireside chat transcript with CoinGecko COO Bobby Ong. We hope you enjoy the transcript!

Introduction

We are very excited to have this first fireside chat with a leader who drives positive changes in our crypto industry.

For the last few years CoinGecko has built various analytical tools that have significantly improved industry maturity.

Today, it is much more difficult to fool us with fake volumes at exchanges and crypto projects with no user base.

It is always hard to make steps and progress in an uncertain space in this industry. Only thoughtful companies doing it.

That’s why I want to underline once again our appreciation that first fireside chat in Hacken Club is with Bobby Ong. COO of CoinGecko.

We will have four blocks of questions today.

1. Personal

2. Business

3. Future of crypto industry

4. Rewarded community Questions

BLOCK 1 — Personal questions

Hi Bobby!

Once again thank you for coming to the group today!

Where are you from?

What was your life before you started with CoinGecko?

It is an honor!

I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

University — I studied Economics in University College London. I had to return to Malaysia as I have a scholarship bond to serve in Malaysia. A large Malaysian conglomerate paid for my studies in UK and I was to work in the company after I graduated. Picked up some corporate skills in my few years at the company before working full-time at CoinGecko

How big is the crypto community in Malaysia?

It’s a small but very engaged community. I learnt a lot from the early mining community in Malaysia. There are some professionals involved as well — I remember meeting a PwC partner 6 years ago in Malaysia and we all learnt a lot about crypto from each other. Interesting fact — Etherscan is also from Malaysia!

I was also living/working in various different countries, but decided to come back to Ukraine

And build a company from home country that will work at the world market.

Have you considered living in the UK? I understand that you came back to Malaysia.

London was great and awesome but I didn’t want to stay on after graduating. I considered moving to Silicon Valley but decided I could also start a company from Malaysia. Always knew that I wanted to start a tech company — just wasn’t sure what and where specifically till later.

BLOCK 2 — Business

Can you tell something about your company? How many people work for CoinGecko currently?

We have 17 people right now. Our old office was 1000 square feet and there was no way we could fit more than 10 people. The new office is good for our future growth. We are bootstrapped so are being very selective and careful with our hiring plans. Only well vetted, strong credentialled people with the right attitude are hired.

How was crypto winter for CoinGecko?

We knew crypto winter was coming after 2017. We were being very careful with our funds. All the profits from the ICO boom days of 2017 we kept in the bank because we knew this winter will last for 3–4 years. It was very true. We are still slowly trying to get out of the winter. Hopefully by 2021 we will get into another bull cycle.

Can you share some numbers how CoinGecko is progressing in competing with other crypto aggregators?

Each month we are growing. How well we do is actually quite correlated with BTC price. But in terms of competing with other crypto aggregators, we are now the largest independent crypto data aggregator. We keep a neutral stand as there are no external investors in CoinGecko besides me and my co-founder. This allows us to be impartial in our data tracking’

What do you think about the Binance acquisition of one of your competitors (CoinMarketCap)?

Ever since the acquisition by Binance, nobody views CoinMarketCap as neutral as all the things they do are now no longer independent. They have a strong need to make their owners look good as how else can they justify the high price tag paid? Thus it is important for data aggregators like CoinGecko to stay neutral and not have any exchange as their investor as this will heavily influence decision-making in the company. Since the acquisition, many people on Twitter have said that they are now using CoinGecko. We are actively engaging the community and finding ways to grow.

We are a community-first company and have our ears on the ground constantly listening for ways to further improve. After the acquisitions, many other token projects and exchanges have also reached out to me looking for ways to collaborate and grow the industry further together

We have been using Trust Score to evaluate exchanges since May 2019 to give a holistic evaluation of exchanges — not using only one metric like web traffic

Previously we used trading volume to rank exchanges but we started noticing in early-2019 that many exchanges were manipulating their volume thus making the rank essentially useless. We needed to do something to improve things thus we came out with Trust Score.

You have introduced a cool gamification element (in CoinGecko) — candies, can you tell us what is that all about?

Yeah, sometimes people take things too seriously in crypto that we need to have some fun sometimes too. Candy is a fun way to reward our users for their loyalty in using CoinGecko and loyal users can redeem our freebies,

NFTs and many more interesting stuff coming soon :)

BLOCK 3 — Future of our industry

What are the biggest problems of the crypto industry today? Why are people afraid of it?

I think the biggest issue is security of user funds. Without this security, everything falls apart. An exchange may have the best customer support, best matching engine etc. but if it keeps getting hacked, then everything will fall apart. The same can be said for DEX or any DeFi applications — the most important element is smart contract security. There is no way for hacker to drain the funds

I think user funds security lies not only in cybersecurity but also in transparency of crypto exchange assets and liabilities. Only when user funds are secure do we start to look at the other parts.

That’s why for us at CoinGecko, it is very important to work with a partner like Hacken to evaluate exchanges cybersecurity

Do you see exchanges getting hacked, and said exchanges not reporting things (keeping things under the rug)?

Hacks below 1 million usually are not public. Exchanges often are hacked at user level.

When people use the same password at all his various accounts then he is at risk of this attack. Hackers get access to a user’s email which they will try to login at various exchanges. There are so many cases when they succeed and then drain all deposits. That’s why we have to several elements of our CSS score — server security and user security

Most exchanges have compulsory 2FA these days to prevent it right? But some still don’t have it I suppose.

2FA can be often reset with an email that was registered

How do we fight with scam and fraud in crypto and what do you think about crypto regulation? Some people say that regulation should improve matters.

I think more countries will start issuing licenses to regulate crypto. For example, Malaysia has legalized crypto and there are now 3 licensed exchanges operating here. Many of the fiat-fiat exchanges will move offshore into jurisdictions like BVI, Cayman, Panama and will try to stay that way away from regulations for as long as they can. I think eventually we will reach a situation where there are 2 types of large exchanges — regulated and non-regulated exchanges serving this market Also it will be interesting to see how DEX teams build out their exchanges with automated market makers built into their protocols. That will be much harder to regulate!

What about your plans? Do you think some exchanges/tokens should be removed from CoinGecko, or marked somehow?

Scam exchanges where users cannot withdraw funds will be removed after we have verified things. Tokens that are reported by any financial regulator as a scam will also be marked and delisted.

BLOCK 4 — Community questions.

Community Questions:

My question has to do with fake volumes. This is a big problem plaguing the industry. Have you thought of any crazy moonshot ideas?

Actually we do measure this. We look at two measures: bid/ask spread and order book depth at 2% level.

When we introduced Trust Score in May 2019, this was one of the metrics which we rolled out. We were shocked at seeing some exchanges reporting over $150m in daily trading volume but the bid/ask spread was 70%! It was impossible to trade there.

With the 2% order book depth, we can see how much the depth is available for each pair. For example, for liquid exchange, we can see that their BTC/USD trading pair may have $2m in depth. This means you can buy or sell $2m worth of BTC while suffering only 2% slippage.

We are adding more depth levels at 1% and 5% soon. Also we may try to calculate the other way round and see how much slippage will occur if you try to sell $X amount of crypto at a particular exchange.

What are the most interesting features of your project that encourage everyone to start using CoinGecko?

CoinGecko is much better in many respects. Here are some reasons why CoinGecko is better:

- CoinGecko is independent — we have no external investors or shareholders. That way we can maintain our data neutrality.

- CoinGecko has the most comprehensive cryptocurrency database, tracking more than 7,000 tokens from over 400 exchanges.

- CoinGecko tracks the cryptocurrency derivatives market and has one of the most comprehensive sections amongst data aggregators.

- CoinGecko uses our Trust Score algorithm to sort exchanges and overcome the rampant wash trading issue. Trust Score looks into exchanges’ bid/ask spread, ±2% orderbook depth, web traffic estimates, and other factors.

- CoinGecko has a free API that is used by many large crypto companies such as Etherscan, Trust Wallet, MyEtherWallet, Metamask, and many more.

- CoinGecko also publishes in-depth cryptocurrency reports each quarter. We just published our Q2 2020 report , go check it out!

IMPORTANT DOWNLOAD LINKS:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.coingecko.coingeckoapp

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hackenai.hackenaiapp

IOS: https://apps.apple.com/nl/app/hackenai/id1501384789

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