Tokeneconomics: A Journey Towards Mainstream Adoption
Last week we wrapped up our ‘Your Money Matters’ series by looking at some of the coolest women-owned businesses. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty more in store for this year’s Women in Crypto campaign.
Today, we’re launching our newest series ‘Where are they now?’ where we’ll be taking a look back on last year’s campaign and getting some insights from the women on the shortlist of 2020’s Rising Women in Crypto Power List. Don’t forget, nominations for this year’s campaign are currently open until 29th October! Nominate yourself or somebody else here.
This week, Lucy Gazmararian explores the journey towards mainstream adoption and implementation of tokens and how the market has changed over the past year.
Tokeneconomics: A Journey Towards Mainstream Adoption
My crypto epiphany happened in the snowy mountains in Davos in early 2018 at the World Economic Forum. It was the height of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) craze and every huddled conversation in meetups along the Promenade centred around crypto and the promise of the new technology. At that point, I had barely heard of bitcoin, let alone participated in an ICO. Instead I had been siloed in my “Tradfi “world for the past 15 years. I was fascinated by all these intelligent, passionate people debating the merits of decentralised networks and the challenge they pose to governments and centralised authority. Crypto was apparently going to change the world and I wanted to be a part of it.
PWC’s Hong Kong Crypto Team
Fast forward a few weeks and I was hired into PwC’s dedicated crypto team in Hong Kong – the city I was born in and the place I call home. Senior management in Asia believed in the potential of the space and were prepared to invest time and resources in it despite the perceived risks such as bubbles and scams. In fact, it was estimated that over 80% of all ICOs in 2018 were scams so maybe not just a perception... nevertheless our team proceeded to set up a “one-stop-shop” to help support these nascent crypto companies and provide them with the professional support they needed in order to grow.
PwC Hong Kong was actually the first of the big four to audit a publicly listed crypto exchange and in 2017 they also accepted payment from clients in bitcoin.
Week one on the new job and I was declared the resident “tokeneconomics” expert given my finance background, and thrown down the proverbial crypto “rabbit hole”. Within no time I became a self-taught crypto convert and over the next few years I travelled around the world advising entrepreneurs, start-ups and financial institutions on their crypto and blockchain projects. I also worked with many of the world’s central banks and other regulatory bodies to help formulate their crypto asset policies. As thought leadership is essential for the healthy development of the ecosystem, I was proud to co-author PwC reports on Crypto Hedge Funds, Crypto M&A and Fundraising, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), Crypto Exchanges and the Blockchain Economy. My time at PwC was an incredible learning journey where I also built a diverse crypto network made up of individuals all contributing to the space and helping to drive the industry forwards.
Crypto in the Mainstream
Over that time, crypto emerged out of stealth mode and catapulted itself into mainstream consciousness. When I began my crypto journey, the market was defined by ICO scams and talk of money launderers and by the time I left PwC, PayPal was rolling out crypto services to its customers and bitcoin was going on the balance sheet of NASDAQ listed companies. Today, the US senate is debating how best to tax the crypto space rather than challenge its very existence and an entire country (El Salvador) has declared bitcoin legal tender. Financial services, social media, gaming, sport, art, you name it - crypto has the potential to transform all aspects of peoples’ lives. This technology is empowering the individual and giving us the tools to rethink corporate structures and to experiment with organising ourselves in different ways. It’s a truly transformational time and we are still only at the beginning.
Token Bay Capital
At the end of 2020 I left PwC to embark on my own entrepreneurial journey and launched Token Bay Capital – a Hong Kong based early-stage venture fund which invests in digital assets and blockchain companies with a focus on Asia Pacific. Token Bay Capital’s mission is to be the institutional investment gateway to the digital asset universe and new token economy. With my banking and asset management background, I’m able to bridge the old world with the new, a useful combination as the lines between traditional financial markets and crypto continue to blur and CeFi/DeFi collaboration grows.
The Fund held its initial close in July and capital has been deployed into a number of high potential investments across five key verticals; infrastructure, financial services, DeFi, NFTs and social media & e-commerce. My days are now dedicated to helping start-ups succeed by leveraging my knowledge and connections for strategic insights and introductions. I'm also an active contributor to mainstream media, helping to educate and inform others about the promise of the technology and I’ve been featured by CNBC, Fortune, Nikkei newspaper, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, CoinDesk, Forkast News amongst others.
Token Bay Capital supports outstanding entrepreneurs that are building innovative companies and laying down the building blocks of our future token economy. This technology is fundamentally changing the way financial markets operate and creating a new blueprint for the future of human cooperation; it’s an exciting time and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
Lucy is the Founder and Managing Partner of Token Bay Capital, a Hong Kong based early-stage venture fund that invests in digital assets and blockchain companies. She is also a Board Member of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong and Founder of Women in Crypto, Hong Kong.
Prior to founding Token Bay Capital, Lucy was a senior leader of PwC’s Global Crypto team where she advised entrepreneurs, start-ups and financial institutions on their crypto and blockchain projects. She also worked with many central banks and other regulatory bodies around the world to help formulate their crypto asset policies. Lucy was named a Top 10 Rising Women in Crypto in 2020 (FinTech Times and Wirex) and #22 Top 100 Women in FinTech in 2021 (FinTech Magazine).
Prior to working in FinTech, Lucy spent 16 years in banking with Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Schroders and Kleinwort Benson. She holds a Type 9 (asset management) license with the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and became a Chartered Wealth Manager in the UK in 2015. Born and raised in Hong Kong and educated in the UK, she graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Modern History.