On January 14th, Kraken acquired Australia’s longest-running crypto service provider Bit Trade. Bit Trade offers a multi-cryptocurrency spot exchange as well as an over-the-counter (OTC) service that provides deep liquidity to professional institutions and traders.
With this acquisition, Kraken will focus on being the premier crypto service in Australia with the best AUD liquidity, trading experience and support for both institutional and retail clients. As part of the acquisition, Kraken brought onboard the entire Bit Trade team, led by Jonathon Miller, who is our first Managing Director for Australia.
We sat down with Jonathon to learn about his experience in crypto, the state of the industry in Australia and what to expect from him and his team moving forward.
Welcome Jonathon! How did you first get involved in crypto?
I was working in a co-working space in 2013 and the owner got really excited about Bitcoin. It quickly became a contagion throughout the office. At the same time, we were disappointed to find out how hard it was to obtain in Australia.
The country needed secure and intuitive on-ramps for investors. Fortunately, shortly thereafter I was approached by my co-founders to launch Bit Trade.
Why did you start Bit Trade? What are some of your key successes?
In 2013, it became apparent quickly that there was no strong, local market for cryptocurrency – the only option was to send cash offshore and deal with risky foreign exchanges. A lot of us were victimized by the collapse of Mt. Gox. We launched Bit Trade to make the process easier, safer and cheaper for investors and other interested parties.
As the industry grew around us, we evolved our offering to cater to the demands of more sophisticated cryptocurrency traders with a full service OTC offering and a multi-exchange price aggregation and execution service.
We are also incredibly proud to be founding members of the Australian industry body – the Blockchain Association of Australia – which has been instrumental in bringing awareness to regulatory bodies and government agencies in Australia.
It has been a wild journey, but it is fair to say that our crowning achievement is our most recent acquisition by Kraken, a brand and product we have long admired.
What do you find most compelling about the industry?
As a (recovering) software engineer and product consultant with a background in political economics and monetary history, Bitcoin was the Venn diagram of my interests and made complete sense. I found myself thrown into the deep end of an emergent industry, and its dynamic character is so exciting.
There is a particular energy that emerges when people try to make completely new things with completely new technology. It’s addictive!
How would you characterize the crypto market in Australia?
Cryptocurrency and blockchain are also well-known entities. This awareness doesn’t just come from the exciting price movements, but also a flagship project at the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), where it is adopting a blockchain backend for its new clearing and settlement system.
That said, we still maintain some conservative attitudes towards investment. Investing in property has been a cultural norm and high on the wishlist for most investors and institutions. However, younger people are changing this dynamic and are more aware of cryptocurrency. The broader market will come around with more education.
The adoption of cryptocurrency makes sense for the APAC region because you have a suite of countries heavily dependent on a remittance economy and populations that are quickly becoming mobile-first for everything from ordering food to banking.
It’s an exciting time for cryptocurrency and digital assets in the region.
Why was Kraken an ideal partner for you and your team?
Kraken has long held a position as one of the most trusted providers in the cryptocurrency industry with products that meet the financial expectations of sophisticated traders and new investors alike. The company also maintains a vibrant and informal energy befitting of the industry without compromising on security or consumer welfare.
This is a crucial point, as there remain several bad actors in the industry, and it is important to build trust among clients and regulators alike.
Bit Trade is a registered AUSTRAC Digital Currency Exchange and as I mentioned, a founding member of the Blockchain Association of Australia. It has a strong track record in promoting best practice in the industry in Australia. These are values that Bit Trade aspired to throughout our operation and it made the decision to join Kraken an easy one for all involved.
What are your expectations for the space in 2020?
The industry shows every sign of deeper adoption across institutional and traditional traders. We are also seeing the industry receive increased legitimacy in the eyes of regulators and governments.
Furthermore, behind the scenes there’s a continual stream of technical improvements to the underlying platforms, cryptocurrencies and applications built on blockchain that are entering the market. These will improve throughput and privacy without compromising on the core values of decentralization and equal access to all.
We are incredibly excited at the prospect of helping Kraken grow its presence in APAC and helping service the growing demand globally for institutional-grade cryptocurrency platforms and services.
Bit Trade is a member of the Crypto Fire Alliance, an initiative to raise cryptocurrency funds for donation towards selected charities and associations helping Australian’s impacted by bushfires. For more information visit https://cryptofirealliance.com.au/
Once again, welcome Jonathon!
The Kraken Team
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