In tough times, embattled industries tend to transform themselves around new realities.
Dr. Yan Zhang, CEO of full-stack cryptocurrency payments provider Airswift, told PYMNTS’ CEO Karen Webster during a recent discussion that he sees right now as one of those pivotal moments for crypto and Web3 industries more broadly.
“It’s definitely the right time to rebuild the community and the impression the general public has,” he said. “If you look back, the crypto industry has gone through worse. 75% of the market disappeared with the Mt. Gox collapse — so while the general public might see a lot of bad news about the industry, the people inside of it see new innovations happening every day. And as an industry, we are used to rebuilding from scratch. Each time it makes us better and stronger, more practical.”
If you don’t cheat or are a scammer, he added, you have nothing to worry about.
“If you go back through the history the entire industry, there have been a lot of issues, right? But they are all human related. If you take humans out of the picture and make everything transparent, automated, you don’t have a problem,” he said.
The short history of crypto has repeatedly proven the failure of unregulated and centralized platforms catering to the industry’s global consumer base.
“I think within a year or two you will see a completely different crypto,” Zhang said. “Whenever there’s a big setback like an FTX, it really helps the public to draw their own conclusions about who can survive and why, what it takes. And what people are seeing now is that true decentralized financial systems can survive the challenges that brought down FTX, because they are determined by smart contracts and not humans.”
The Airswift CEO added that as things relate to the human part, once crypto is put under effective regulation, the industry will move forward.
After all, the crypto sector already has a groundswell of support among younger generations that may act like a silver bullet in socializing the digital asset industry’s adoption as a key payment method.
“For a lot of the younger generations, crypto is a part of their life,” Zhang said. “If you talk to younger kids, what kind of Christmas gift do they want, it’s Roblox points, those kind of things — and so unsurprisingly, when we talk to merchants, they really want to use crypto as a payment to attract those younger generations and win a greater share of their future spend.”
Zhang emphasized that Airswift is hyper-focused on leveraging Web3 tools to create something that can impact consumers’ daily lives, which is the company is focused on enabling crypto payments.
Still, he admits there are hurdles.
“The wallet is complicated,” he said, “You have to remember the private key, which is a nightmare for all the consumers.”
Beyond that, as it relates to companies operating within the crypto space, some pureplay crypto-native people, so said Zhang, struggle to move beyond peer-to-peer payment experiences to create payment gateways that can appropriately handle all the anomalies that can happen in the still-emergent industry.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “the three key things [around crypto payments] are accessibility, security, and convenience.”
He added that accessibility has mostly been resolved, but there is still work to be done around security and convenience.
“For merchants, security is the number one concern because payment rails hold money and have large cash flows,” Zhang said. “But for consumers, convenience is the greatest concern.”
Zhang said you have to deliver value to the general public.
“People still think Web3 is speculative, that the industry cannot last long, and they move their focus to a different industry — tomorrow it’s AI that is hot. But from my perspective, I see a lot of fellow projects working on building the fundamental infrastructure of Web3 and that makes me feel very comfortable talking about the promise of the industry. Just take for example the internet, Web 2.0, going through the dot.com bubble, then through mobile when iPhone really changed the landscape of the industry.”
It takes time for things to harmonize, he adds. And that future harmony is what he is looking forward to most.