Interview with Former Chief Financial Officer of Binance, Now CEO of Coins.ph – Wei Zhou

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Last year former Binance Chief Financial Officer Wei Zhou bought Coins.ph, a mobile wallet and digital currency exchange, from Indonesian technology company Gojek. Coins.ph, also called the Coinbase of Southeast Asia, was founded in 2014 and was one of the earliest crypto wallets and exchanges in the Philippines. It later shifted its focus to providing broader financial services.

Zhou had previously left Binance for personal reasons. He had worked there for three years.

BCN: How do you feel about governments trying to regulate crypto platforms, which seems to be the trend over the last few years? Do you think there is a real threat of misuse and money laundering practices of unregulated platforms?

Wei Zhou: “I’m all for regulations. The consequences of a lack of regulations can be dire and last year, the crypto industry got a stark reminder of this. FTX is the best example of why we need regulations; being an offshore company, the company wasn’t under the jurisdiction of regulators in most countries it operated in. 

At Coins, we have been working with regulators throughout our nine years of existence. We were the first Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) to hold both the Virtual Currency and Electronic Money Issuer licenses from BSP. We continue to work with the central bank and other regulators and are constantly audited to protect our users.”

BCN: You posted a YouTube video about trust (In which you talk about the FTX collapse and people losing trust in the man behind the company Sam Bankman-Fried), so I think this subject could be important to you.

Do you think trust is the most important thing in this industry, or are other key factors such as high inflation, rising interest rates and war are more important key factors in the success crypto is expected to have in 2023?

Wei Zhou: “Restoring trust in crypto is critical, but it’s by no means the only factor that will determine the success of crypto this year and in the future. While inflation, interest rates and the political climate will play a big role, I believe that smart regulations will be the biggest factor in restoring trust in crypto. 

I’ve been in the Asian crypto market for several years and Philippines regulators adopt a growth mindset when it comes to crypto regulations. Due to the popularity of Play to Earn games, crypto has a net positive case for Filipinos, as it opens opportunities to earn additional income.”

BCN: Can you tell us more about your company Coins.ph, a mobile wallet and digital currency exchange? You bought the company last year, right at a time when the crypto market was still in reasonable shape. What has changed for your company and what are the prospects for 2023?

Wei Zhou: “While the crypto market has seen a downturn amid the collapse of some global giants, our focus at Coins hasn’t changed. I took over this exchange with the vision of bringing financial liberation to hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia, starting in the Philippines.

This year, our aim is to become the Web3 gateway of choice for the region. With play-to-earn gaming being so massive here, we recently launched Coins Arcade to leverage this interest. Our revamped Coins Pro is Bangko Sentral of the Philippines regulated and licensed, and it offers the best rates in the region for PHP to crypto traders. Additionally, our QR PH integration was launched to provide additional utility and use case for users to scan and pay for their daily purchases with thousands of offline merchants across the country.” 

BCN: Are you expected to make any changes within your company in 2023? What are your long-term plans and expectations?

Wei Zhou: “Coins envision a new way for users to live and earn online and to live and spend offline and in the real world. In 2023, we aim to develop services for Filipinos to experience Play to Earn gaming and to enable low-cost Pesos remittance transfers via blockchain technology. 

In order for Coins to bridge this gateway into crypto and to facilitate these payments, Coins needs to collaborate with partners to provide deep liquidity in Pesos. Hence, we are looking for long-term partners interested in building Pesos remittance rails.

We are also looking to further expand our product into new markets beyond the Philippines.”

BCN: In general, do you believe in a positive future for crypto and why?

Wei Zhou: “I believe that we’re still very early in the growth and adoption of cryptocurrencies. 

To fully appreciate just how much room for growth crypto has, I think one just needs to observe the Southeast Asian region. While the West has focused on speculation with crypto, this region is leveraging crypto for remittances, cutting down the costs and time taken to receive their funds drastically. The Philippines is the world’s fourth largest recipient of remittances, and with platforms like Coins, millions of Filipinos can now receive funds from overseas in seconds and for a fraction of the cost they have paid for ages.

Southeast Asia is also the world’s play-to-earn gaming trailblazer. Axie Infinity showed the power of P2E gaming and millions of Filipinos were able to feed their families through the game. Axie and other games still continue to see millions of users for this region despite the overall market downturn, proving that crypto’s biggest market lies in real-life applications that deliver value to their users, not just speculation.”

BCN: Thank you for your time. Good luck with your endeavours!

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