Cover Vivien Khoo speaks on cryptocurrency, female leadership and Asian representation in Web3

Vivien Khoo talked about the current crypto winter, as well as female and Asian representation in Web3, on the second episode of Tatler TV: Meta Versed Season 2. The weekly online talk show invites visionaries and leaders in their respective fields to share their thoughts on NFTs, virtual worlds and cryptocurrency, and how they are reshaping our world

The current crypto winter seems to be all people can talk about when it comes to Web3. Should people cut their losses or buy the dip? What should they keep in mind when looking for projects to invest in? Financier-turned-crypto-trailblazer Vivien Khoo covered all these questions and more on July 14 for Meta Versed, the live-streaming series that has previously featured Yat Siu from Animoca Brands, NFT art collector Whale Shark, Sébastien Borget from The Sandbox, and Web3 entrepreneur and influencer Irene Zhao.

If you missed any of the episodes, you can now watch them here.

Tatler Hong Kong’s editor-in-chief and editorial director, Jacqueline Tsang, began by interviewing Khoo on the three crypto organisations that she had helped set up and run: the Asia Crypto Alliance, SatoshiWomen and Web 3 Women (W3W).

Khoo—who was also the July cover star for Tatler Hong Kong—had left her role as managing director at Goldman Sachs in 2019 to pursue a career in cryptocurrency, and is now an important name in Hong Kong’s crypto scene, primarily due to her work empowering and educating female and Asian communities.

She said that while she saw healthy programmes and policies for diversity at Goldman Sachs, “crypto is just a different industry”.

“By profession, most of them are tech coders, so I think the proportion of females is just low,” Khoo explained. She added that when she first came into the industry, she struggled to find another woman in a senior position, and she was glad that she now has the time and the requisite background to form a group with other women. W3W was specifically created to target female leadership within the space, although Khoo was keen to emphasise that her organisations were about empowering women, and not about being anti-men.  

“I felt that there was a lack of female participation in crypto in Asia [specifically],” she said. “It’s an area that’s interesting and that people want to know about, both in the traditional finance and crypto scene itself; there are emerging ladies who want to know what the crypto scene is about and how to go forward.”  

It’s this growing interest that Khoo also aimed to address with the other female-focused organisation that she helped found: SatoshiWomen.

“Satoshi Women is really about providing access and education to women of all walks of life,” Khoo said. “It started because we were talking to the partners of men who were in crypto, and they told us that when they asked their partner about crypto, they would just say ‘you’d never understand’. It was a little dismissive.” Together with co-founder Lyndaine Demetilla, Khoo organised a group that focused more on information sharing and networking; the topics covered would run the gamut from beginner sessions on what crypto and blockchain are, to crypto security and how to avoid getting hacked, and even to more industry-specific news like why and how Terra (Luna) crashed. 

It was when she started talking about the third organisation that she helped start up—the Asia Crypto Alliance (ACA)—that it was clear just how murky the crypto landscape is. “[Back then], I started looking to see if there was an association that could help me have a proper interface with the government and authorities. None of the available associations at the point dealt with crypto companies, it was a landscape where the regulations were unclear… I knew this was something that I wanted to do,” she said. “There are crypto nomads who [travel to different countries to] stay in hiding or under the radar but that’s not the sustainable way.”

ACA currently focuses on helping people understand the crypto scene in Hong Kong and Singapore. Khoo said that she wanted to look at regulations in other countries too but the plan was to focus on these two places first before expanding. 

“I would properly put Hong Kong and Singapore in one bucket and the rest [Thailand, India, Indonesia] in another, simply due to the nature of how developed the country or city is,” she said. She explained that the standards in Hong Kong and Singapore were largely similar but they focused on different things.

“In Singapore, what with Three Arrows Capital and other [companies] collapsing, they have been [sending a message to] the market that they’re taking a tougher stance,” she said. She added that while it’s quite difficult to get employment visas in Singapore, the country has been attracting a lot more companies since the pandemic due to its policies. “Both regions are working quite proactively to see what they can do to help develop the market, but each has its own challenges,” she pointed out. 

Meanwhile, India’s love for gaming has been instrumental in its adoption of crypto. “In India, gaming is very closely connected to crypto: the country has a huge population and they have an adoption rate of 30 per cent or perhaps even more—these are people who are into crypto,” she said. It’s the same for the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia; “It’s a more retail-driven market when it comes to those places,” she added. “People play with crypto. In the Philippines, you have this game called Axie Infinity where people play to earn tokens, and that’s the way… you understand how it all works.”

Khoo elaborated on Thailand’s crypto scene, saying that while there has been some back-and-forth on official regulations, some have been doing well from a “tokenised perspective”, referring to companies that have tokenised real estate and have seen success due to Thailand’s flexible property rules.

The talk ended with Khoo’s final thoughts on the current “crypto winter”, a term used to describe a sustained period of low cryptocurrency prices. Despite the depressing downturn of crypto, Khoo remains optimistic. 

“It’s always cyclical. Because of the volatility of crypto, you just see the scale of something going up and down in a very exaggerated way [compared to] a traditional market. It’s a matter of perspective. Anyone who wants to invest in the market has to… have to have a fairly long-term view,” she emphasised.

To those considering “buying the dip”—that is to say, investing in crypto now that the value and price are low, Khoo recommended doing some research and also a self-evaluation. “Within the crypto market, which are the ones with the biggest market cap that you believe will be around? What kind of token is it? Do they offer utility? Those would be the safer ones to look at, if you take the long-term view,” she said. As for buying the dip: “What’s your time horizon and what’s your risk tolerance level? How much pain can you still suffer if it goes down more? It’s a very distressed market now both for traditional markets and for crypto. If you go in now with multiple years on the time horizon and you can hold on to it, then it’s probably a good time. Unless you’re a legend, it’s going to be very hard to buy at the lowest point ever. If anyone tells you that they can consistently do that, there’s a question mark on credibility.”

She pointed out that it was important for one to clarify why they’re going into crypto investment. “Are you investing because you’re expecting financial return or because you want to dip your feet in the water and want to learn how crypto works, or is it because you want to get some exposure to digital-related projects like NFTs?” she asked. “If you’re looking at investment return then you need to do a bit of due diligence on historic track records; there is a whole range of considerations. It’s not that different from traditional finance.” 

You can watch the full episode here.

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