EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Ross Zhang, GM of Huobi Canada
Cryptovest.com was a media partner at EDCON 2018 in Toronto last week and we had a chance to catch up with Ross Zhang to discuss the future of Huobi.
Huobi is a multilingual international cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform. It is headquartered in Singapore with global offices in Hong Kong, Japan, United States, and Korea. At EDCON 2018, Huobi officially announced the launch of its first Canadian office, located in Toronto, with Ross Zhang at the helm in the role of General Manager. Ross has an extensive background in IT and Finance as he previously worked at Oracle, CIBC, OTPP, and CPP all in the Toronto area.
CV: Hi. I'm here at EDCON 2018 with Ross, GM of Huobi Canada. Ross, how are you doing today?
Ross Zhang: Good. Hello everyone. This is Ross Zhang, General Manager of Huobi, Canada.
CV: Okay, so Ross, why don't you tell us a bit about your background, how you got involved with Huobi, and how you ended up in the role of GM?
Ross Zhang: Yeah, so I started my career as a developer, as many of the developers here at EDCON [have]. Then after I got my Master's Degree in Computer Science, I worked for different companies in the financial industry, from development to business and from sell side to buy side. So that gave me tons of exposure, not only on the technology side but also on the financial business side. I saw tons of innovation in the financial industry and in the technology area as well, for example how financial engineering enables the capital [to] flow to capital markets and how technology improves the efficiency for those applications.
However, none of them look[ed] disruptive to me. Then I look at the blockchain and I think, this is it. I think this is the disruptive force not only for the financial industry but for other industries as well. Actually, I’d already seen some applications in other industries so that’s why I decided to join Huobi and to promote their Canadian business and of course I have worked in Toronto for almost ten years and I have strong feelings about Canada.
I think the Huobi Group is a fantastic company to work for. It's not only the exchange, but [Huobi is] also expanding globally and expanding to different areas of business. That's why I think this is perfect timing in terms of the industry, the company, and the geolocation, that's why I decided to join Huobi.
CV: So why don't you tell me a bit about what Huobi has planned for the rest of 2018 and what sort of challenges are you facing?
Ross Zhang: Right. So this industry is changing every day. We have lots of revisions in our plans but our strategic goal is the same. We are doing the global expansion right now and the Canadian market is a serious business that we want to put long term investment in. So for the rest of the year, we will work with top law firms, accounting firms, and also the regulators to make it compliant for the Huobi business in Canada.
CV: That's good, so what's one of the major challenges you are facing with the expansion?
Ross Zhang: Well, it's almost the same as other international companies, right? You have the group and you have many teams around the globe, like in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, [the United] States, and of course Canada, so that's a challenge. To run an international business where you have people standing on different perspectives, that's one of the challenges I deal with and I spend a lot of effort on communicating with the headquarters; communicating with them on how the Canadian market looks and the strengths for the Canadian market, like the strong community [and] strong ecosystem. It is not only a financial hub but also the tech hub as well. So the communication is definitely a challenge.
Another challenge is definitely how Huobi perceives this business. It's a sustainable business. That's why we want to work with regulators, lawyers, and accounting firms to be compliant, not like other companies or like other exchanges that you may know [where] they kind of go the other direction. What we think is it’s a sustainable business and it's a very exciting industry that needs the regulations. I'm from the investment background, I know how regulations play a role in the investment or financial industry and I have some deep background with the institutional investors as well, I know their concern is the regulation. That is why we want to build a stronger and more robust ecosystem, not only in Canada but around the globe. That’s why we think regulation is very important.
CV: Since you feel regulation is important, do you see Huobi ever doing fiat to crypto exchanges instead of just crypto to crypto?
Ross Zhang: That's definitely in our plan but that requires a lot of effort so I don't have a set timeline for it, but it's definitely in our roadmap.
CV: So one thing I wanted to ask you was with the influx of decentralized exchanges now, Omise is working on a DEX project, Kyber Network just came out with a DEX, how do you think that centralized exchanges like Huobi will be able to compete with decentralized exchanges?
Ross Zhang: I think decentralized is a relative term, so I think at a certain point it needs to ... well it probably [will] have a center that I may not be aware of, I mean decentralized right now is still in the initial phase so I cannot tell how it goes and how it will compete with the existing exchange but that's something [to think about]. We're actually looking at different technologies or products or industries, I think we may consider putting a prototype or something for a decentralized exchange but I don't have specific details, so when it comes down to how DEX will compete with a centralized exchange, I think both of the business models have pros and cons, for example the central exchange it has the pros that it's more regulation-friendly and it's more risk-friendly...the risk control and risk governance is easier to do on the central exchange but for a decentralized one, I don't know the details so I cannot comment on that.
CV: What's one piece of advice that you would give to, whether it would be a trader, a developer, a coder, somebody who's trying to get involved in this space? Just based on your own past successes and failures, what's one piece of advice that you would give them before they start exploring?
Ross Zhang: Okay. I think one [piece of] advice is like don’t be evil - don't be speculative, it depends on who you talk to, right? For developers, you can probably start with something like a small contract prototype, just [to] get a sense of what it looks like. And for traders, they want to do the trade, but don't put like too much in the first trade, don't leverage too much. I think this market needs more long-term investment and probably you can put a small amount of money by just go to Huobi and do some trades and see how it goes, and then you can decide whether you want to put more money in it or [if] you want to know more about the underlying blockchain technologies before you make any investment decisions. That's my personal experience.
CV: I mean it's obvious that a lot of the people in this space all have their own crypto portfolios, so what's a few of the top holdings in your own portfolio or a few projects that you are really high on?
Ross Zhang: Right. Personally, my portfolio, I cannot tell you the exact asset allocation but I do have allocations in Bitcoin and also Ethereum. Of course a small portion of my asset allocation will be in some other tokens but for the details I cannot [tell you] ... I don't think that's relevant to the public, so I'll pass on that.
CV: I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to Cryptovest and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day at EDCON.
Ross Zhang: Thank you for the interview.