Bybit CEO talks challenges of building a derivatives exchange and why Singapore is the blockchain hub of Southeast Asia Bybit CEO talks challenges of building a derivatives exchange and why Singapore is the blockchain hub of Southeast Asia
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Bybit CEO talks challenges of building a derivatives exchange and why Singapore is the blockchain hub of Southeast Asia

CryptoSlate recently had the chance to interview Ben Zhou, the CEO and co-founder of Bybit, a crypto derivates exchange platform located in Singapore.

Bybit CEO talks challenges of building a derivatives exchange and why Singapore is the blockchain hub of Southeast Asia

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate


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CryptoSlate recently had the chance to interview Ben Zhou, the CEO and co-founder of Bybit, a crypto derivates exchange platform located in Singapore. In the interview, Ben shares how he got started in crypto, what led him to start Bybit and his crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond.

What is your professional background and how/when did you get into crypto?

Ben Zhou (BZ): I ran a forex brokerage for eight years before founding Bybit. My time there helped me develop a deeper insight into what traders expect from a trading platform. It was sometime in mid-2016, that I really started to take a keen interest in the budding and vibrant crypto scene. It was the limitless potential of the technology and the numerous possibilities for development and growth within the crypto space that truly caught my attention.

It was an industry in its relative infancy, that could potentially revolutionize how we distribute data, trade and transact in a way that was previously not thought possible. I actively read up and educated myself on blockchain and cryptocurrency. Eventually, I got so into it, that I even started a YouTube channel! I was a relatively small-time KOL with a following of about 20K, focusing on project analysis to bridge the knowledge gap between the Asian and Western markets, before starting Bybit in early 2018.

Tell us about why you decided to start Bybit?

BZ: Bybit’s genesis stemmed from how I perceived the crypto space in 2016/2017 — an intriguing, fast-growing scene, with boundless potential and possibilities! However, I did observe many glaring inefficiencies in the way crypto exchanges operate. Honestly, I saw so many gaps in the market and truly felt that traders deserved better than what they were getting at the time.

When my co-founders and I started Bybit in early 2018, our mission was to develop a streamlined trading environment for all traders whilst ensuring an overall better trading experience. The first problem I wanted to tackle was order execution or matching as there were far too many order rejections or overloads. When these exist, the clients’ basic trading needs are not fulfilled. We made it our priority to ensure that we had 99.99% platform availability and no overloads. 

Secondly, I found that most exchanges were perceived as cold and almost robotic in their eventual responses if any. Traders rarely got to connect with or interact with the people behind the exchange. They rarely got the human interactions that are the foundation of building relationships and trust. Coming from the forex industry, I knew all too well that clients were always the top priority. I wanted to make an exchange where clients could reach our customer support at any time of the day, 24/7-365. I also wanted our users to be able to reach out to me directly on Twitter or Telegram at any time to chat or even provide valued feedback. 

Where is your team located and why did you choose that jurisdiction?

BZ: We are headquartered in Singapore, now known popularly as the blockchain and crypto hub of Southeast Asia, with tech developers in China and local teams in Taiwan and the Philippines. Singapore is consistently ranked as the world’s best place to do business and it has witnessed a massive growth in the number of businesses using Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. It also helps that Singaporean authorities encourage innovation and are open to discussions on key industry issues by industry experts. I like that Singapore is well ahead of the game in contrast to other regulatory authorities globally and willing to embrace this new industry and technology.

What are some of Bybit’s notable achievements or milestones? 

BZ: Bybit’s biggest accomplishment is first and foremost our team, the heartbeat of our operation. We are blessed with an internationally diverse team that is highly adaptable and is constantly improving. Our amazing company culture is such all of our employees treat Bybit like their own and vice-versa. 

Another notable achievement was when our trading volume hit 1 billion and 2 billion USD on consecutive days in late June 2019 after being in operation as a platform for just over six months. And in September 2019, we hit the 4 billion trading volume mark in 24 hours.

What are the benefits of using Bybit as opposed to other derivatives trading platforms? 

BZ: In the current ecosystem, I believe we have many players but the standards have not yet been set. Traders overall are not getting the best trading experience compared to traditional markets. Our goal is to raise and set the industry standard for the best execution, most responsive customer support, and a simply great overall trading experience.

What makes us stand out from our competitors in the current market is our iron resolve to stand by our principle of putting the trader first and providing a trusted platform to suit their needs. As I mentioned earlier, the constant overloads on exchanges are definitely not ideal when you want to make a quick trade especially considering how volatile the crypto markets are. That is why we made it a priority from the get-go to equip our platform with the capability of handling 100,000 TPS, with a match taking just 10 microseconds. 

Secondly, we provide unparalleled 24/7 live customer service in four languages, which is another thing that our competitors do not provide. Feedback of our traders is valued and helps us tremendously in improving the trading experience on our platform and implementing new features.

A recent example of a feature introduced based on feedback would be “Coin Swap”, which allows our traders to convert supported cryptocurrencies on our platform seamlessly – for example BTC to ETH – all with just a few clicks. This allows our traders to take advantage if there are any quick price changes in the market, or to stock up on another cryptocurrency if they wish.  

What can you tell us about the Bybit product roadmap? What upcoming features are you most excited about rolling out? 

BZ: Our much anticipated Bybit app is currently being tested by a specially selected pool of our users and the official release is expected to be announced very soon. We will also be offering a stablecoin solution as well as linear contract settlements within the stablecoin. This is yet another feature that our traders have been requesting for quite frequently, and it’s something our developers have been hard at work on for the past few months.

We have a host of other new features in the pipeline that I won’t go into too much detail about, but our users can expect features such as portfolio margin, hedging of positions, a host of educational content and even a trollbox for traders to chat with each other on our platform.  

We also have the Bybit Games – BTC Brawl 2019, a very exciting global team trading competition that will be kicking off really soon. We threw a launch party recently in Las Vegas that was a knockout success and I can’t wait to see what happens once the competition begins. Be sure to look out for details and updates on our social media channels!

What are the biggest challenges of building a crypto derivatives trading platform for crypto users? 

BZ: In light of the unfortunate trend of exchange hacking that shrouded the industry in 2018, I feel that trust has become the biggest issue that trading platforms face. Traders have trust issues due to either fund safety issues or conflicts of interest with the exchange they trade on. As with anything unregulated, we know that it is a huge challenge to earn the trust of our clients if we are not transparent and accessible to our clients all the time.

Another notable challenge for Bybit or any other exchange is the unpredictability and volatility of the crypto industry. That is why we spend a huge amount of resources on building up our platform with the necessary security features whilst remaining reliable and free of overloads in times of a sudden market crash or boom.

What other projects and/or blockchain developments are you most excited about?

BZ: I am really excited about the prospect of major financial institutions releasing their own crypto wallets. It may happen overnight, but I see JP Morgan’s recent announcement of their very own e-wallet that integrates their services into the digital commerce world, as a huge step in the right direction. This is especially so since their eventual goal is to make the service readily accessible to retail users. This means that cryptocurrencies could possibly be included in the future. Such a development would be a major game-changer as other major banks are bound to follow suit and launch their own version of such e-wallets. Having major banks develop blockchain-based e-wallets would really help ease the trust issues that mainstream adopters have with our industry.

Do you have any blockchain and/or crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond?

BZ: The blockchain and crypto markets are very closely interlinked and with the growing acceptance from both the regulatory bodies and the masses, I foresee both getting bigger and bigger in the not-too-distant future. Blockchain technology has affected my life in a way I never predicted, especially with the rapid growth of Bybit. Some might not see or realize it yet, but it’s positively affecting all our lives. The widespread application of blockchain technology has led to improved development and advancement across industries ranging from energy, financial services, and healthcare.

This trend shows no sign of slowing down and I am certain it will only accelerate in the next few years. As always, crypto remains a highly competitive market. I enjoy the constant competition as it reminds us to never rest on our laurels. However, we do not want to get too wrapped up in competing that we lose sight of our own goals. As Edward de Bono once said:

“Companies that solely focus on competition will die. Those that focus on value creation will thrive.” 

What are the biggest obstacles for the mainstream adoption of crypto?

BZ: I feel that the regulatory uncertainties and market volatility are two of the biggest obstacles that are hindering mainstream adoption. A significant number of large financial institutions are still wary with some even lobbying against digital currencies as they remain firm believers in traditional fiat currencies that are regulated. We still have governments clamping down on exchanges and ICO projects which hinders progression and instills further doubt and uncertainty among the masses. I believe that blockchain/crypto firms should collaborate to educate and inform the masses about the benefits and infinite possibilities of cryptocurrency.

Disclosure: Bybit is an advertiser on CryptoSlate but this is not a sponsored story.