The rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has given birth to a new wave of entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders – Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) crypto leaders. With innovations and advancements in the crypto and blockchain space happening at breakneck speeds, AAPI crypto leaders are playing an essential role in shaping the future of the industry. Here are some of the AAPI crypto leaders to watch closely.
1. Brian Wong, CEO of Orbs
Brian Wong is the CEO of Orbs, a hybrid blockchain infrastructure designed for the needs of mainstream businesses, that provides a range of tools to help businesses use blockchain technology. Prior to founding Orbs, Wong was a founder of the mobile ad network Kiip, where his company developed software that found awards for users who reached specific milestones while using apps. Wong turned his attention to blockchain, and in less than a year, Orbs announced partnerships with Hyundai Motors and Kakao, a South Korean messaging app with over 50 million monthly active users. As a prominent figure in the blockchain industry, Wong serves on the board of directors of the Blockchain Association of America, where he advocates for blockchain policy and regulation.
2. Fanny Lakoubay, Co-Founder of Gane
Fanny Lakoubay is a co-founder of Gane, an inclusive decentralized platform that aims to empower freelancers and gig workers to earn a living wage. Lakoubay’s passion for social impact is what drives her work with Gane, as she believes that blockchain technology can provide the tools necessary to help freelancers and gig workers get access to fair wages without needing to rely on platforms like Uber or Airbnb, which take significant portions of their earnings. Lakoubay previously worked for Apple and Goldman Sachs before deciding to pursue blockchain full-time.
3. Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx
Jay Hao is the CEO of OKEx, one of the world’s leading crypto exchanges. Hao has been instrumental in driving the adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in Asia, as he believes that the technology has the potential to disrupt and evolve traditional financial systems. Under his leadership, OKEx has seen significant growth, with the exchange registering over $14 billion in daily trading volume and offering over 400 cryptocurrencies. Hao is also an advocate for blockchain policy change and co-signs letters to governments and regulators that seek to clarify the rules and regulations of the crypto space.
4. Joyce Kim, Founder of Stellar
Joyce Kim is the founder of Stellar, a non-profit organization that aims to increase financial inclusion by providing low-cost, borderless financial services to people all over the world. Stellar has emerged as one of the most promising blockchain projects in the world, with partnerships with several African countries and the development of stablecoins that help users avoid the volatility of traditional cryptocurrencies. Kim’s vision for Stellar is to create a system that is accessible, affordable, and secure, and her work has earned her a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Technology.
5. Timo Lehes, Founder of Swarm
Timo Lehes is the founder of Swarm, a blockchain infrastructure that builds DAOs and decentralized applications (dApps). Lehes has been a long-time contributor to blockchain technology, and his work with Swarm is focused on making it easy for businesses to use blockchain technology without needing to know the technical details. Swarm builds on the Ethereum blockchain, providing users with a fully-featured protocol stack that includes token issuance, reward distribution, and voting mechanisms. Lehes’ previous experience includes several startups, including an AI company that he helped to scale up.
In conclusion, the rise of Asian American and Pacific Islander crypto leaders is a testament to the diversity and inclusivity of the blockchain industry. The contributions of these leaders are driving the industry forward, helping to develop new technologies, create new businesses, and provide better financial services to people all over the world. As we move further into the future, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the AAPI voices that make blockchain technology a more inclusive and equitable space.
The topic of financial inclusion was prominently discussed at the recent Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Tech Summit in 2022. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander leaders in the crypto industry shared their perspectives and discussed their efforts towards building a more inclusive financial system. The panel discussed the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and their potential to foster financial inclusion. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that minority communities, such as Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics, were more likely to invest, trade or use cryptocurrencies than white adults.
Education and engagement were highlighted as key components of outreach to minority communities. The Blockchain Association in Washington, D.C., collaborated with APAICS on their Fall Tech Summit, continuing work over the past two years to connect with the AAPI community.
Dynamic crypto pioneers were celebrated as examples of the true meaning behind Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The panel highlighted several AAPI luminaries across the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector that included:
Linda Jeng, Head of Global Web3 Strategy, Crypto Council for Innovation and Forbes Contributor
Ruby G. Sekhon, Partner, Chief Legal Officer, and Chief Compliance Officer, Polychain Capital LP
Sulolit Raj Mukherjee, Global Head of Tax, ConsenSys
Shailee Adinolfi, Head of Business Development and Partnerships, XMTP.org
Jae Gnazzo, Policy Lead, OpenSea
Karen Hsu, SVP Mobile DevOps and Security Solutions at Appdome, Co-founder Blockchain by Women
Keiko Yoshino, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Puerto Rico Blockchain Trade Association
The diverse leadership in the Web3 and DeFi industry are working towards making the fintech industry more inclusive and accessible. Their efforts towards building a more open and equitable financial system are commendable and serve as an inspiration to others in the industry. As the crypto industry continues to evolve, it is vital to ensure that all communities have access to financial services and opportunities.