The cryptocurrency sector never used to be this vibrant or stable. It used to be viewed with lots of suspicion and distrust due to its nature. From political leaders fearing what its popularity portends for the larger economy, to economists dismissing it with a wave of the hand, cryptocurrencies have come a long way.
It is not too early to say that cryptocurrencies have come to stay. Apart from being a major FinTech revolution, it is also a powerful potential game-changer in established centralised economies where it has been touted as a major disruptor.
At the heart of cryptocurrencies is cryptography, an encryption technique that helps secure digital assets. These assets are then used to make transactions, further widening the FinTech solutions options.
Although cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and are not issued by a central authority, they are digital currencies.
It was Bitcoin that led the breakthrough in 2009. As of March 2021, there were over 18.6 million bitcoins in circulation with a total value of around $927 billion. That gives you an idea of how far the crypto market has come.
At the engine room of the global cryptocurrency market, are some thought leaders who are driving this digital revolution. Let’s look at some of them:
1. Michael Pearl, COO, Kirobo
Kirobo, an Israeli blockchain technology company in Tel-Aviv, attracted Michael Pearl, who had spent over a decade in the tech industry, after its revolutionary products in the cryptocurrency ecosystem became noticeable. Before joining Kirobo, Pearl was Head of Content at Natural Intelligence where he managed the company’s Fintech issues.
Weeks after Kirobo raised $5M from Artificial intelligence company DigiMax, Pearl was picked for the role of Chief Operating Officer at Kirobo.
Michael Pearl has deep insider knowledge of the workings of the FinTech sector and was once Head of Intelligence at Finance Magnates.
Pearl’s wide range of experience is being brought to bear at Kirobo, where he is helping consolidate the groundbreaking products of the startup, which had already taken the industry by storm.
Michael is also an attorney, with an LL.B. and M.A. in International Relations.
2. Cathie Wood, Founder, ARK Invest
Cathie Wood is the founder of ARK Invest, which invests in revolutionary ideas like self-driving cars, genomics, and other disruptive innovations.
Created in 2014, ARK Invest solely focuses on Innovations and offers investment solutions to investors seeking long-term growth in the public markets.
The idea behind ARK is to package active stock portfolios in an ETF format.
Cathie Wood has over 40 years of experience in economics, portfolio management, and analysis.
In 2014, Cathie Wood left AllianceBernstein, a firm she joined in 2001, to found ARK-Invest after her idea of disruptive innovation-based management of funds was considered too risky. Disruptive innovation, which creates a new market and value network that eventually displaces established market-leading firms, was considered unsafe at a time when the global economy was still reeling from the effects of a meltdown.
Wood, bold in making predictions, forecasted that Bitcoin could hit a value of $500,000. Considered wild at that time, the steep rise of Bitcoin over the years has drawn a lot of attention to her predictions. She earlier predicted that Tesla shares could rise to a value of over $4,000. It looked unbelievable at that time, but her prediction did come true in January 2021.
3. Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares
Meltem Demirors, a cryptocurrency investor, advisor, and advocate is an expert in both traditional and blockchain-based finance as well as for cryptocurrencies.
Before settling in the cryptocurrencies sector, Ms. Demirors has worked with multinational finance corporations focusing mainly on financial risk management and capital efficiency.
Being one of the earliest professional entrants into the cryptocurrency ecosystem, her main focus at the beginning was portfolio management and network development.
With a BA in Mathematical Economics from Rice University and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School, Meltem Demirors served as Vice President of Development at Digital Currency Group.
In her role as VP, she managed an investment portfolio of 110 cryptocurrency companies and blockchain companies across 30 countries and advised some of the world’s largest financial institutions and corporations.
4. Gavin Wood, Founder, Parity Technologies, Web3 Foundation,
By market capitalization, Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency. Gavin Wood co-founded it.
When Bitcoin was launched in 2009, Gavin was already aware of the prospects of cryptocurrencies but was uninterested. That changed in 2013 when he met Vitalik Buterin.
His expertise in coding was all Buterin needed to help transform Ethereum from a white paper to a fully functional blockchain. By June 2014, Ethereum had been founded.
Gavin Wood had always been passionate about a decentralized web. As a developer of Blockchain technology, he founded Parity Technologies and Web3 Foundation. While Parity builds open-source for the Ethereum network, addressing issues including usability, performance, and privacy; Web3 advocates for a decentralized internet where users have more control over their identity and data.
In 2019, he launched Polkadot, which would create technology that would make web decentralization a reality, including allowing for a framework for individual blockchains.
Dr. Wood’s aims are to merge all these to actualize his vision of a world with a consensual Internet devoid of censorship and control by giant tech companies.
5. Sergey Nazarov, CEO, Chainlink
Sergey Nazarov is CEO of Chainlink, a blockchain middleware program used by leading technology firms like SWIFT, Google, Oracle. Sergey is also Co-Founder and CEO at SmartContract, and sits on the Board of Bring Me That.
Chainlink is one of the fastest-growing crypto projects, helping to bridge the digital and physical worlds through data.
Over the past years, Chainlink’s underlying oracle technology, which innovates a way of feeding external data into programmable smart contracts, has been integrated into over 300 projects.
Sergey Nazarov began his career at FirstMark Capital, building peer-to-peer marketplaces.
In 2011, he joined the cryptocurrency revolution and believes it can change society in the way it distributes wealth, enforce contracts, and the way critical information is shared. Chainlink’s native token, LINK, has grown to become one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.
The Chainlink network is unique in that it provides reliable tamper-proof inputs and outputs for complex smart contracts on any blockchain.