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Apr 25, 2024
Ecosystem Spotlight
Ecosystem Spotlight: Inside George Cao’s Vision to Bring CeFi and DeFi Closer with AscendEX
by Orderly Network
Ecosystem Spotlight: Inside George Cao’s Vision to Bring CeFi and DeFi Closer with AscendEX

AscendEX, a global CEX with over 5M+ retail and institutional traders is charting a new course in the crypto ecosystem, building out a DEX option for users who prefer the privacy, transparency, and self-custody of DeFi.

At the helm is George Cao, co-founder & CEO of AscendEX, and a seasoned finance expert with a wealth of experience.

We sat with George to get a feel of who he is, his experience, and the driving force behind his motivation to blur the line between CeFi and DeFi.

George, firstly, welcome to the Orderly Ecosystem. Who is George Cao –the guy, not the CEO?

Thanks for the warm welcome! I've been immersed in the global financial markets for quite a while now. Prior to Ascendex, I founded Delpha Capital Management, LLC and served as its Chief Investment Officer, and I'm also a co-founder of Whitestone Investment Group.

Could you give us some background on your journey into the crypto industry?

Certainly! My journey into the crypto industry began with a strong background in computer science. After completing my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Science and Technology of China, I pursued further studies and earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Chicago.

Following my academic pursuits, I entered the financial industry, where I gained valuable experience in quantitative trading, risk management, and product development. My interest in technology and finance naturally led me to explore the emerging field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

You’ve positioned AscendEX to operate at the nexus of CeFi & DeFi. Why do you think this is important to the growth of the ecosystem?

Firstly, it's all about providing our users with the best of both worlds. By bridging CeFi and DeFi, we're able to offer our users access to a diverse range of liquidity pools, combining the convenience and efficiency of centralized exchanges with the autonomy and innovation of decentralized platforms.

Secondly, it's about giving our users flexibility and choice. We understand that different traders have different preferences and priorities when it comes to trading. Some may prefer the reliability and familiarity of centralized exchanges, while others are drawn to the transparency and control offered by decentralized platforms. By offering both options, we empower our users to trade in the way that suits them best.

Moreover, bridging CeFi and DeFi allows us to help our users diversify their risk exposure. By providing access to both centralized and decentralized services, we enable our users to spread their assets across different platforms and protocols, reducing their overall risk and increasing their resilience.

Furthermore, this bridge fosters collaboration and innovation within the ecosystem. By bringing together the strengths of both CeFi and DeFi, we're able to drive forward the development of interoperability solutions, cross-chain communication protocols, and new financial products that benefit everyone in the ecosystem.

Lastly, operating at the nexus of CeFi and DeFi allows us to navigate regulatory requirements more effectively. By offering compliant centralized services alongside decentralized options, we're able to ensure regulatory compliance while still providing our users with access to the cutting-edge innovations of DeFi.

In essence, bridging between CeFi and DeFi is not just important—it's essential for the continued growth, innovation, and inclusivity of the crypto ecosystem, and it's something we're fully committed to here at AscendEX.

At Orderly, we are seeing more CEX-based projects building-out DEX options. What do you think is responsible for this shift?

I believe it is the development of on-chain technology that has brought about these changes. Providing a smooth trading experience and low transaction fees were once the advantages of centralized exchanges, but with the development of Layer 2s, these advantages will be reduced.

Although, I still believe decentralized exchanges need to lower barriers to entry, such as enabling email logins (abstract wallets, MPC wallets, etc.), and providing withdrawal and deposit methods more familiar to Web2 users. The existing user base of Web3 is limited, so reducing the migration costs for Web2 users and centralized exchange users is a key factor for the future growth of decentralized exchanges.

How do you see the crypto landscape evolving over the next few years, particularly in terms of the balance between CeFi & DeFi trading?

Over the next few years, I foresee the crypto landscape continuing to evolve, particularly in terms of the balance between CeFi and DeFi trading. I believe they will continue to coexist rather than one overtaking the other.

Firstly, both CeFi and DeFi offer distinct advantages and serve different user needs. CeFi provides liquidity, convenience, and regulatory compliance, making it particularly attractive to institutions and large-scale traders. On the other hand, DeFi offers users greater asset control, lower transaction fees, and a wider range of financial products and services. Due to these advantages, both CeFi and DeFi will continue to attract different types of users and play complementary roles in the crypto ecosystem.

Finally, what advice will you give to new founders navigating the ever-dynamic crypto landscape?

Navigating the dynamic crypto landscape as a new founder can be both exhilarating and challenging. Here are some pieces of advice that I would offer:

  1. Stay Focused on the Long-Term Vision: In the midst of market volatility and rapidly changing trends, it's crucial to stay focused on your long-term vision and goals for your project. Keep sight of the problem you're solving and the value you're providing to your users.

  2. Embrace Innovation and Adaptability: The crypto industry evolves rapidly, with new technologies and trends emerging frequently. Embrace innovation and be adaptable to changes in the market. Stay informed about the latest developments and be ready to pivot when necessary.

  3. Prioritize Security and Compliance: Security and compliance are paramount in the crypto industry. Prioritize the security of your platform and the protection of your users' assets. Stay updated on regulatory developments and ensure that your project complies with relevant regulations.

  4. Build a Strong Community: Community support is essential for the success of any crypto project. Cultivate a strong and engaged community around your project by fostering open communication, soliciting feedback, and providing value to your users.

  5. Focus on User Experience: User experience is key to driving adoption and retention. Prioritize building a user-friendly interface, seamless onboarding process, and responsive customer support to enhance the overall user experience.

  6. Seek Strategic Partnerships: Collaborate with other projects, companies, and stakeholders in the crypto ecosystem to leverage synergies, expand your reach, and accelerate your growth. Strategic partnerships can open up new opportunities and help you overcome challenges more effectively.

  7. Stay Resilient and Persevere: Building a successful crypto project requires resilience and perseverance. Expect setbacks and challenges along the way, but remain determined and persistent in pursuing your goals.

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