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Every employee at our exchange is also its user: Interview with Bitget CEO Gracy Chen

In a one-on-one interview with Cryptopolitan, Gracy Chen, the newly appointed CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Bitget, shared insights into her new role, the secrets behind Bitget’s success, and her goals for the year that she intends to achieve in the new role. 

Also read: Bitget crypto exchange Wallet witnesses 300% growth in MENA with Egypt and KSA leading.

Gracy Chen is the CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitget. She joined the company in 2022 and has since quadrupled its user base. Gracy is also a delegate to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women and an advocate for industry inclusivity.

Gracy Chen – Challenges and motivation

You have been the managing director at Bitget for two years. Looking back, what major challenges have you encountered as the managing director at Bitget?

I joined Bitget in April 2022, and we publicly announced my role in June. My early days at Bitget were quite turbulent, marked by the collapses of Luna/Terra, Celsius, and Three Arrows Capital (3AC) in early 2022. While our company did incur some losses due to the investment in 3AC, our well-balanced operational and investment strategy mitigated the impact significantly. 

Then, there was a more challenging event: FTX’s downfall. On November 8, 2022, as I was at the airport about to fly to London for Token2049, my phone beeped with a new notification: “BINANCE ACQUIRES FTX.” 

Shocked, I quickly skimmed through Twitter posts by SBF and CZ, noticing that their statements seemed at odds. It became evident that given SBF’s willingness to engage with CZ — who was partly responsible for initiating this tumultuous saga — FTX’s problems were likely more severe than publicly perceived. I immediately shared our perspective on Twitter. 

Every employee at our exchange is also its user: Interview with Bitget CEO Gracy Chen
Gracy Chen’s tweet
Every employee at our exchange is also its user: Interview with Bitget CEO Gracy Chen
Gracy Chen’s tweet

I then messaged my team, “Please monitor this situation closely.” The six-hour flight had no WiFi. I was supposed to rest as I had a full day of events and meetings upon landing. However, I was too anxious, reflecting on two crucial questions: If FTX collapsed, what would be the future of the cryptocurrency industry? And as a centralized exchange, what steps should we take to rebuild user trust?

Amidst uncertainty, we committed to transparency by publicly pledging to publish Bitget’s reserve proof within a month, which we fulfilled in December 2022 with a detailed breakdown. 

Additionally, we established our Protection Fund, already at $200 million, and we boosted it to $300 million, pledging to keep it at that level for at least three years. Finally, we established a Builders Fund to support those affected by the FTX collapse. These proactive steps rebuilt user trust and confidence, demonstrating our commitment to advancing the industry, even in challenging times. Instead of losing users, our market share tripled from Q1 2022 to 9.00% in Q3 2023 after FTX collapsed.

Like how we handled FTX, Bitget has consistently turned threats into opportunities. Over the past two years, we’ve expanded significantly, growing from a team of fewer than 1,000 people to 1,500. We’ve expanded our business from a centralized exchange to encompass decentralized wallets, investment media enterprises, and incubators. Another challenging aspect was our globalization effort. From being an East Asia-focused team, we’ve grown to serve more than 25 million users in over 100 countries, navigating diverse regional needs and preferences.

What motivates you to keep building in the cryptocurrency space? Is there a particular event that inspired you to join crypto?

At 18, I received a scholarship to study Applied Mathematics in Singapore, which eventually led to a role as a TV host for a Finance and Technology show. In 2015, some friends and interviewees suggested I check out crypto when Bitcoin was only around $300! Today, it has surpassed $71,000.

After reading the Bitcoin white paper, I was hooked. As a mathematician, I loved its mathematical elegance. I was thrilled by its democratic nature and how it introduced a new decentralized ledger that complemented traditional finance. While I wouldn’t call myself a rebel, I’ve always preferred creating my path rather than following established norms. This was a chance to be part of something innovative. I bought BTC, ETH, and XRP and invested in some crypto startups, including BitKeep, now Bitget Wallet. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder: Why didn’t I buy more!?

I soon left TV and co-founded two startups in FinTech and virtual reality. This diverse experience as a serial entrepreneur was invaluable, teaching me how to manage different businesses, understand various market dynamics, and address the changing environment. I firmly believe you can’t be an effective leader in any business without firsthand experience in investment and startups. Serial entrepreneurship teaches you to take risks with your money and learn from your failures. Wanting to expand my knowledge and skills further, I pursued an MBA at MIT as a lifelong learner.

In spring 2022, a friend told me Bitget was seeking a Managing Director. I was already familiar with the company, but joining an exchange was a big step. After speaking with the Bitget management team, I was impressed by their capability, motivation, and high ethical standards. Despite the competition from well-established exchanges, their sincerity and reliability convinced me to take on the challenge.

Improving user experience

As the newly appointed CEO of Bitget, what is your focus going forward? What do you intend to change?

At the beginning of 2024, I outlined three focal points for Bitget: compliance, emerging markets, and Web3. Half a year in, we’ve made significant progress in all these areas. For instance, our non-custody Web3 wallet, Bitget Wallet, recently launched the BWB token. According to its new product blueprint, Bitget Wallet will serve as Bitget’s on-chain layer, integrating native Modular Feature-DApps (MFDs) through collaborations with builders and contributors.

Beyond these strategic focuses, we have bigger dreams for Bitget’s role as crypto goes mainstream. Firstly, we are strengthening the Bitget Ecosystem. Following the launch of the Bitget Web3 Fund and EmpowerX Fund last year, we’re expanding beyond just a centralized exchange by enriching our ecosystem through investments. This will remain a key long-term focus.

Every employee at our exchange is also its user: Interview with Bitget CEO Gracy Chen
Gracy Chen CEO Bitget crypto exchange

We also aim to link traditional finance and crypto. With spot crypto ETFs getting approvals in major markets like the US and Hong Kong, we expect more institutions and retail users to add crypto to their portfolios. We are committed to supporting this trend in the long term.

Finally, while Bitget is primarily known as a derivatives exchange, I want to highlight our growing spot market offerings. Our team has diligently searched for the latest potential tokens and increased liquidity through partnerships with market-making firms. We’ve also collaborated with major projects like TONcoin and Ethena to boost awareness and engagement. 

As a team with an extensive technical background, how do you put yourselves in the shoes of people/users with no technical background? 

Every employee at our exchange is also its user. We all spend a significant amount of time using and testing our products and features, always keeping the needs of various user groups in mind. Putting developers in the shoes of people with no technical background can be extremely difficult, so we try to engage our employees at every level — whether they are marketing specialists, customer service representatives, or operational managers.

At the same time, engaging in active user research is essential since the most important feedback usually comes from the end users. Conducting interviews, surveys, and usability testing with diverse groups of users and listening to their pain points are the most reliable strategies to stay in touch with our existing users. We also pay a lot of attention to communicating with users, and gathering their feedback through forums and social media is crucial.

How does your team reach a consensus on what is “user-friendly”? Is there a process? 

It’s not solely up to our team to determine what is user-friendly; it largely depends on feedback from our user research. We have a structured process to uncover what truly meets user needs; the final decision always comes from our users.

First, we gather insights from our target users and create detailed personas from various backgrounds to guide the design and development process. Our team then conducts usability testing and iterates on the design based on the feedback. This cycle continues for multiple rounds until the user feedback is unanimously positive.

However, as I mentioned, product development always continues. Listening to your users extends far beyond the testing groups and continues throughout the product’s life.

In your opinion, what is the one thing that crypto exchanges can do to fasten the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies? 

In the long run, we aim to integrate cryptocurrencies into day-to-day events, making them a daily currency.

We launched the Bitget Card in late 2023, a crypto-backed credit card usable wherever Visa is accepted. This innovation helps make crypto a part of everyday life, beyond just an investment. We are also developing more services to support this integration.

Also read: Innovative MPC wallet by Bitget elevates crypto security with majority key authorization.

Additionally, providing users with accessible and comprehensive resources about using cryptocurrencies, creating a streamlined experience for users to go on/off-ramp, and the potential benefits and risks can accelerate the mainstream adoption of digital assets. Exchanges should invest in educational initiatives, protection measures, and community engagement to build trust and knowledge among potential users.

It is well known that digital transformations (a much-needed process in our industry) are impossible for an organization without closing the gap between the leadership and the technologists (tech people). What is the communication style between these two critical parties at Bitget?

Our core values are result-oriented, embodying a “wolf-like tenacity” and prioritizing user needs. We look for value alignment in our recruits, emphasizing results over formalities. At Bitget, we foster a culture of open communication and collaboration between leadership and our technical teams. 

Regular meetings, collaborative feedback channels, and an inclusive company culture ensure that both sides are aligned on goals and expectations. We emphasize transparency and encourage feedback to bridge gaps and ensure our technological advancements align with our strategic objectives. I feel fortunate to work with some of the best in the industry! And everyone has a straightforward working relationship and is united to work hard and deliver results.

Keeping up with evolving crypto trends

Does your team ever have a different view on the future evolution of crypto? 

Yes, absolutely. We always welcome this dynamic in a team. Differences in views are only a sign of a healthy environment. 

We encourage open discussions and debates to explore various scenarios and possibilities. This diversity of thought helps us prepare for various potential futures and ensures that our strategies are well-rounded and resilient.

At Bitget, we embrace a results-driven approach, steering clear of a rigid top-down structure where everyone must follow the same point of view. We encourage our team to bring forward new ideas and find innovative ways to boost efficiency. By appointing leaders in various functions and granting them the freedom to implement their strategies, we cultivate an environment where performance is paramount and diverse perspectives drive us beyond our limits.

In the eyes of the community, crypto has always been about empowering individuals through decentralized finance. But, at the same time, there’s another camp of crypto believers that see institutional involvement and mass adoption as key to achieving the maximum potential of crypto. Where does your opinion on this stand?  

Both perspectives are crucial for the future of crypto. Empowering individuals through decentralized finance is fundamental to the ethos of the cryptocurrency movement. However, institutional involvement and mass adoption are also essential for achieving scale, stability, and wider acceptance. 

Empowering individuals through decentralized finance and achieving mass adoption via institutional involvement are not mutually exclusive goals but complementary paths to crypto’s maximum potential.

At Bitget, we strive to balance these two aspects by promoting decentralization while engaging with institutions and regulators to foster a more inclusive and robust ecosystem.

Multiple jurisdictions have remained reluctant to embrace cryptocurrencies. What measures or efforts are you using at Bitget to address regulatory concerns and enhance the security and reliability of your platform?

Compliance is crucial for us. Over the past two years, we’ve obtained security certifications and licenses in parts of Europe and are actively pursuing regulatory approvals in Asia and Europe. 

We enforce strict KYC policies and use tools like Chainalysis and Sumsub for on-chain monitoring to detect and prevent suspicious activities and deepfake AI fraud. Compliance will continue to be a core focus in 2024.

In the age of rising deepfake scams, as AI tech becomes increasingly sophisticated, we have recently upgraded our partnership with Sumsub, a full-cycle KYC verification provider. 

Additionally, we see educating our users about best practices and potential risks as an equal measure to Bitget’s cybersecurity. Having launched multiple education programs on using crypto for various demographics, we also plan on providing resources and support to understand regulatory requirements and comply with the relevant laws.

What plans should Bitget users be excited about?

Our priorities for 2024 include Web3’s strategic layout, emerging market development, and compliance considerations. 

Each department focuses on its priorities, but the key is coordination and collaboration across teams to achieve our targets. Eventually, my goal is to elevate Bitget to become a global top-three exchange.

At Bitget, we’re always looking out for our users. In the future, you can expect even more Launchpad, Launchpool, and earnings/staking tokens to be added to the platform, truly benefiting users and token holders. Our team is dedicated to developing products from the user’s perspective, ensuring we offer opportunities that align with your needs and interests. We’re committed to bringing you the best and most innovative ways to trade smarter.

 

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Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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