Nathan Smale, Emfarsis, [PH 2019 Crypto & Blockchain Year in Review]

Nathan Smale: I think the Philippines over-indexes in its ability and desire to learn, yet is still largely undervalued in many regions. But I think that is going to change, I think the world is about to take notice.

January 7, 2020 – Depending on who you ask, 2019 is another turbulent year for the crypto and blockchain industries. Globally, we’ve seen companies refocus their efforts or merge with others to survive. In the Philippines, we’ve read about more pending regulations, developments in the space, and more education drive. BitPinas sought the opinion of people who work in the blockchain and crypto industry in the Philippines, including leaders and influencers here and abroad on what they think about 2019 in general and what they look forward to in 2020.

Nathan Smale is the Principal Consultant at Emfarsis, working with organisations to drive international business development activities including launching, growth and expansion, and strategic partnerships.

What are or what are some of your biggest accomplishments this year?

2019 was a big year of change for us at Emfarsis but it has allowed us to determine what is most important, where the biggest opportunities are, and put our plans in place for 2020. The watershed moment for us was the decision to double down on our focus in Asia, especially the Philippines and establishing a real base in Pampanga. The next 5-10 years in Clark (and the Philippines as a whole) will be a very exciting time and 2019 saw us make the commitment to be actively involved in this time of change.

Please share a personal highlight for you this year in the crypto and blockchain community

One of our first clients was a Canadian businessman named Ronald M. Tucker, who established his crypto career in Australia. Ron is the founder of Bit Trade, Australia’s first bitcoin exchange, as well as the founder and former President of the Australian Digital Commerce Association (recently merged with Blockchain Australia). Many BitPinas readers will know Ron due to his work in the Philippines, where he has been based for some years and has been involved in local initiatives such as ABACA and CEZA.

In May, Ron and his business partner Anson Zeall from ACCESS Singapore, engaged Emfarsis to help launch the inaugural V20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Held in parallel to the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the V20 Summit was a chance for the crypto industry to discuss a new set of global recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), designed to prevent money-launderers and terrorists using crypto to conduct financial crime.

In attendance at the V20 were executives from crypto exchanges from around the world such as Kraken, Huobi, BitMex, BitFlyer, Circle, Coinbase, Coincheck, Bitfinex, OKCoin and our very own Ron Hose from, just to name a few. Legal and compliance experts attended too, including the Philippines’ Rory Lambino-Torres. It was brilliant to see so many industry heavyweights together in Osaka having a constructive conversation for the common good.

Most people wouldn’t be aware that the Philippines played such a critical role in making the V20 happen: 4 of the 5 event organisers are based here. In addition to myself and my business partner, Leah Callon-Butler, who live and work here in Pampanga, Ronald Tucker is based in Manila, and so is Philippe Le Saux from GMI Post, who led the fundraising effort for the V20.

The V20 was a very important moment for the future of the crypto industry and my personal highlight for the year.

What do you think is the most important blockchain and/or crypto development in the Philippines/Globally in 2019?

As explained above, one of the biggest developments for crypto in 2019 was the FATF’s Recommendations for Virtual Asset service Providers (VASPs) and how they must operate moving forward, in order to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

The FATF are a very influential intergovernmental body. G20 member countries are required to implement FATF’s guidance, making it law within their local jurisdiction. Those who do not comply risk getting blackballed by the rest of the global economy.

It was the FATF guidance regarding VASPs that prompted the V20 Summit; and it is also what allowed us to bring the world’s leading crypto exchanges together to collaborate toward a common goal. We will hear a lot more about the FATF’s new rules in 2020 and this regulatory development will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the crypto industry.

What is your company/project/group looking forward to this 2020 in this space?

2020 is shaping up to be a really exciting year for Emfarsis and for our clients. We have some who are in the process of raising funds; others looking to position themselves and their organisations as thought leaders throughout APAC; and another assessing the feasibility of expanding their business into Asia.

We also have the V20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of the G20 in November 2020 that we have already started planning for.

What do you personally look forward to in this space?

Personally, I am looking forward to being actively involved in more financial inclusion projects here in the Philippines. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to advise or deploy projects that are making a real difference to people who are currently being left behind or excluded by the existing systems. This is the reason I got into blockchain.

Also, selfishly, these projects mean that I will get to spend more time travelling around the 7,200+ islands of the Philippines!

What do you see for the Philippines in 2020 in this space?

I see 2020 as the year where the Philippines really stands up to be recognised as a hub for FinTech/Crypto/Blockchain activity. I think there is a lot of amazing work being done here and I know that we at Emfarsis are not the only ones who have been tirelessly promoting the Philippines to the rest of the world. I think the Philippines over-indexes in its ability and desire to learn, yet is still largely undervalued in many regions. But I think that is going to change, I think the world is about to take notice.

The net effect is that I think 2020 will see more companies moving large portions of their technical development capacity to the Philippines and we will see more outside investment into FinTech projects. Importantly, I hope we also see more Filipino ventures expanding into other regions to conquer the world. 2020 is going to be a brilliant year to be in the Philippines.

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