Q&A with CEX.IO’s Becky Sarwate

As the crypto industry finished a tumultuous year, Rally Point’s Elise Perkins spoke with Becky Sarwate, Head of Communications of award-winning crypto exchange CEX.IO to get her thoughts on the crypto winter and what she predicts for 2023. One of the most tenured market participants, CEX.IO’s mission is to support global financial inclusion through the adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. 

This past year has been hugely challenging for crypto with high-profile collapses (FTX, etc.) and a slump in prices. What do you think that has done to trust in the industry?

2022 has been a tumultuous year for the crypto industry by almost any measure, including the collapse of various high profile projects, such as that of stablecoin Terra in May. The cryptowinter that descended upon us this past summer, and the very recent, very painful implosion of a major cryptocurrency exchange player, FTX, have also done significant damage to public trust in the industry. There’s no getting around it, and the repeated punches this year put long-tenured, ethical participants like CEX.IO in a tough position.

However what looks and feels like disaster – and I’m in no way dismissive of the real suffering that has been experienced – often presents opportunity. And the crypto industry has one here. 

It’s unfortunately true that setbacks are part of a long-term growth trajectory. Although recent events have been unsettling, they’re also a reminder of the importance of customer-focused ethics. These have been part of CEX.IO’s DNA since our founding almost a decade ago. An absolute commitment to safely growing the ecosystem, a coordinated call for overdue regulatory clarity and simple, straightforward, transparent approaches to user support are the only ways to rebuild damaged trust and further global crypto adoption.

Because, however the headlines shift, the core use case of crypto as a path to financial inclusion and equality, remains fundamentally relevant and achievable. 

Amid those challenges, how have you strengthened communications with your stakeholders this year?

We have always had a running dialogue – formal and otherwise – with our stakeholders. This doesn’t only refer to the retail and institutional customers that CEX.IO lives to serve. It also means global regulators, the media, our fellow colleagues, and even our competitors. If there’s one lesson 2022 should have taught all of us, it’s that the shrouded in secrecy, mystifying, and ‘too cool for school’ era of crypto innovation are – and must be – over. 

In seeking to empower people all over the world to take charge of their own financial journeys, we all, in a sense, play for the same team. To that end, we use every channel available – our website, social media, the CEX.IO Community and various customer communication touchpoints – to educate, to tell and retell the story of who we are and what we’re about. We’ve been here for nearly a decade. We’re innovators. We’re highly ranked across the third-party board when it comes to KYC/AML procedures.

And we don’t just tell our audiences these things. We show: in our product pipeline, in our long list of global licenses and registrations, in our commitment to customer education and empowerment. After all, you can’t market what you can’t prove.

What great industry stories didn’t get enough love?

It might seem counterintuitive because headlines and stories about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February of this year, and the now long-running nature of the resulting war, have become ubiquitous in 2022. The loss of life, public property and the disbursement of Ukrainian people and families fighting for their freedom has been heartbreaking. At the same time, Ukraine has taught the rest of the world a thing or two about resilience, about showing up each day and doing the unthinkably hard work in the most trying conditions. 

But there has been an encouraging story attached to so much loss that I don’t believe has gotten nearly enough attention. As a human being as well as a crypto professional, I think the ongoing war has given us all a reminder of how small the world is, and how great our responsibility to each other is. Decentralized financial access was, and has been, a lifeline to war-torn refugees fleeing for safety, as well as a powerful engine for raising funds for humanitarian relief. 

I’m very proud of CEX.IO’s own contributions in this area. Throughout the year, we’ve made it easy for users and non-users to support critical organizations saving lives on the ground in Ukraine through our Donation Widget.

Which trends are most important to watch in 2023?

Who could have predicted most of what happened in 2022? I think Nostradamus himself might have given up prognosticating about this year in mid-May. I kid. Sort of. 

I think the most important 2023 “trend” for the industry is one we’re already starting to see gain momentum. For too much of this year, the good actors had to adopt a reactive posture while absorbing the consecutive blows and implosions of the bad actors. A lot of time and oxygen has been spent frankly, simply justifying our existence. 

I think in 2023, especially as crypto prices start to rebound and some of the problematic figures of the recent past are brought to justice, we will be, as an industry, able to refocus public attention on innovation, on the real world problems crypto can solve. That’s a win for the entire ecosystem, the people it serves, and the ones we’d love to welcome. 

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