BitFlyer COO on Crypto: The Next Few Years Will Define the Next Few Decades

Bartek Ringwelski on the crypto industry and bitFlyer's plans for global expansion.

This is an excerpt and the second in a series. To hear the full interview, click the Soundcloud or Youtube links. To read the first excerpt, click here

Over the past several months, bitFlyer has stepped up its global expansion game, making headlines in the process. After extending its operations into the United States, bitFlyer successfully landed a payment license to operate in the EU at the end of January.

Time to buy the dip?

At press time, bitFlyer was the twelfth-largest crypto exchange in the world, with $155 million worth of BTC in trading volume over the last 24 hours. For perspective, $118 million worth of BTC had been traded on GDAX over the same time period.


Recently, Finance Magnates spoke to bitFlyer USA’s COO Bartek Ringwelski about the exchange’s plans for expansion, security measures, and how he got started in the crypto industry.

A ‘Greenfield’ Opportunity

Bartek explained that his interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain came primarily because of its innovative nature. “What was interesting to me about the cryptocurrency space is that it’s a both an intersection of finance and technology as well as a marketplace, and it’s also incredibly innovative. It’s rare to see something that comes along and defines its own category,” he said.

He went on to say that “when I was working at Lending Club (which is a company that does peer-to-peer lending), finding innovation in a space like lending is actually kind of difficult, because the concept of lending has been around for 3000 years, and a lot of things have already been tried.”

“In the virtual currency space, it’s such a greenfield opportunity that there will be a lot of things that don’t work, but there will also be a handful of things formed in the first few years that end up defining the entire industry for the next several decades,” he explained.

Security on BitFlyer

When asked about the security measures enacted on bitFlyer, Bartek said that he would “have to give a bit of a vague answer to this because our security measures are proprietary, and sharing too much information about those will potentially compromise some of those.”

“What I would share to give comfort,” he continued, “is that the way we’re able to get licensures (like the virtual currency license in Japan)…in the US, and especially in New York… all of those licensure processes require a really in-depth security review. So we disclose our security measures to regulators, and those have made them comfortable.”

Bartek said that “security for us is always top-of-mind, especially given the nature of the industry that we’re in. What happened in a scenario like Coincheck is that people get worried, and I think it increases focus on security. I think that’s always a good thing for the industry.”

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Plans for global expansion

When it comes to bitFlyer’s goals of becoming a truly global cryptocurrency exchange, Bartek explained that “the [addition of the] US was sort of the first foray into international expansion. Close after that came Europe. Between Europe, Asia, and the US, we think we have a really solid sort of triad of offices from which we can start creating what’s really a global trading platform.”

“The idea is that by linking those together, you can start linking people to trade with each other who are in very different geographic parts of the world. One thing we’re working on now for release in the near-term is to have the ability for US-based bitFlyer users to trade with bitFlyer users in Japan. Down the road, that’ll often be the case for Europe and Japan and Europe and the USA.”

“The way that we think about numbers and activity is from a global perspective, because all of those boards will ultimately be linked together,” said Bartek.

Internal expansion: more user-friendly tools, more trading pairs

Bartek said that in the near future, bitFlyer will be adding new currency pairs to its Lightning Platform. “Lightning is our professional product,” Bartek explained. Right now, Lightning only offers BTC/USD and BTC/EUR trading pairs.

“We’re also going to be adding more consumer-oriented features, because what we found is that while we provide a professional platform, a lot of people who are joining are not quite there yet from a ‘hardcore trader’ perspective, and they’re looking to dip their toes into sort of the overall virtual currency space.

For these users, in particular, bitFlyer is planning on “providing features that allow users to buy and sell virtual currencies in addition to Bitcoin in a way that’s easier than a traditional order book perspective.”

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