Zane Tackett is the Manager of International Operations at OKCoin – the largest China-based cryptocurrency exchange and the largest exchange in the world by transaction volume.
Given the current climate of uncertainty in the country, Cointelegraph had the pleasure of interviewing Zane to clear up some of the smoke around Bitcoin in China and catch up on what’s been happening at OKCoin.
Cointelegraph: First, how did you get involved in Bitcoin and in China nonetheless? Why did you decide to work for China’s biggest exchange?
Zane Tackett: I saw Silk Road mentioned on reddit and so I looked into it and thought it was interesting, but it was Bitcoin that really caught my eye and so I started reading everything I could about it. Shortly thereafter I dropped out of college (I was attending University of Colorado at the time) and moved back to China (I had already lived here for a year and half at that point) to pursue my dreams of working in the Bitcoin industry. I met Jake Smith, a Bitcoin evangelist in Beijing, and became heavily involved in the Beijing Bitcoin scene. Jake later introduced me to OKCoin, after meeting them the choice was clear and I’ve been happily working at the best job in the world ever since.
CT: About a month ago, you explained how OKCoin wanted to license its technology to help rebuild Mt Gox. Has any progress been made towards this goal since?
ZT: This is a plan by BitOcean to rebuild Mt. Gox. In their plan they will be licensing technology and services from OKCoin to run the rebuilt Gox. This is not a plan by OKCoin. Right now progress is limited to how fast the Japanese courts move forward. It is out of our hands.
CT: Back in May, China’s biggest exchanges including OKCoin withdrew their attendance from the Chinese Bitcoin Summit. Could you explain the reason for this decision and will we see OKCoin at future BTC events on China’s mainland?
ZT: This was part of an agreement made by the major exchanges. In the future we will need to monitor the situation and decide if at that time it is something we would like to do or not.
CT: Your Company was the first exchange to roll out some sophisticated algorithmic tools for Bitcoin trading such as trigger orders and TWAP. How much demand are you seeing for these institutional trading tools and do you see Bitcoin exchanges competing with traditional financial exchanges in the future?
ZT: We’re extremely pleased with the response we’ve had. Two weeks in and the demand has surpassed our expectations. I think Bitcoin is still in its infancy as has a long way to go before it can be seen as a competitor to traditional financial exchanges. I do, however, believe Bitcoin has a bright future and that anything is possible.
CT: China prohibited financial institutions and third-party payment services providers from dealing with bitcoin businesses. The recharge code method from third-party payment services providers was also banned. How has your exchange been able to workaround these roadblocks?
ZT: We use an agent for our recharge service and this system has worked extremely well for us.
CT: Many analysts seem to agree that the PBOC is taking a softer stance toward the currency than it seemed to adopt back in December. Do you agree with this point of view and can we expect Beijing to lax its stance on Bitcoin in the future?
ZT: The only stance that the PBOC has taken is that which was laid out in the December notice, which is the only official notice that has been made, everything else is rumors. I don’t know what the future holds in regards to their stance.
CT: How is Bitcoin perceived in mainland China in general? In comparison with Hong Kong?
ZT: I’ll quote our CTO on the perception of Bitcoin here:
"People get it here. They understand the principles behind it, know the value of the blockchain, etc. There are speculators of course, but there are plenty of people who truly believe in bitcoins. Then there is the Chinese culture. It's a saver culture. Chinese people have more savings accounts than most other countries. Chinese people love to store things of value. That's why gold is so popular. Bitcoin is better than gold in many ways."