Navigating the “Crypto Jungle”: Staying On Top Of The Latest in the Crypto Space

By Brad Koeppen, Head of Crypto Trading and President of Business Development at CMT Digital

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak at UChicago’s Booth School of Business on a panel entitled, “VC perspectives on blockchain/crypto.” This was a unique and interesting opportunity because of the event’s focus on crypto, which has become an internationally trending topic.

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Panelists at the “VC perspectives on blockchain/crypto” panel hosted by University of Chicago’s Booth Fintech Club (I’m second from the right!).

If you’re wondering how I got here, I’ll share a quick overview of my career: I graduated from the University of Chicago about fifteen years ago, and, like many finance professionals looking to make their mark, I traded on the floor of the CBOE for three years and then moved off the floor to utilize its electronic market maker platform. It had become clear that the future of trading was online. I was soon introduced to a respected, but under-the-radar, principal trading firm, Capital Markets Trading (CMT). For seven years at CMT, I traded options, equities, and futures on US markets, until taking a more active role in cryptocurrency trading at CMT Digital, the cryptocurrency trading and investing unit of CMT, about a year ago.

As I’ve been greatly focused on the crypto space for some time now, I received an invitation to speak on last week’s panel. Rather than providing an all-encompassing overview of our wide-ranging discussion, I thought it would be helpful if I outlined what the audience seemed most interested in: where do you go for reliable and insightful information on cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology, blockchain?

When I first started in the crypto industry, a colleague told me, “Welcome to the crypto jungle,” and that is an apt metaphor. There is so much going on, so many young companies and technologies, that deciding where and why to enter may be intimidating. Here are a few ways to get a better understanding of the crypto space, as well as crypto itself:

  1. Use Twitter. I’m not on Twitter to talk. I’m on it to listen, and with the rise of #CryptoTwitter, there is much to listen to. I have found the following crypto reporters — notably Laura Shin, Frank Chaparro, Matt Leising and Leigh Cuen — educational and insightful. Additionally, industry thought-leaders often turn to Twitter first to discuss their viewpoints on $BTC price swings, the merits of specific coins, the regulatory environment, and much more. There are a few lists out there with influential crypto players to follow, and my recommendation is this list from Fortune.
  2. Read up. On a parallel track, take the time to consume content on how this industry came to be and where it may be headed. Some of the best information sources that I have come across, include: Digital Gold, by Nathaniel Popper; Unchained, a podcast hosted by Laura Shin; and Mastering Bitcoin, by Andreas Antonopoulos.
  3. DIY. That old adage, “learn by doing,” is certainly on point for crypto trading. I’m not advocating jumping into the deep end of the pool, but you’ll learn a lot by opening an account at one of the leading crypto exchanges, and going through the process of investing in cryptocurrency. Our industry’s “mainstream” names include Coinbase, Binance, and Gemini. However, it’s imperative that you read the fine print along the way and see where the fees are taken. Research how long it may take to move your assets or convert them back to a fiat. Get an understanding of where your assets will be held. What used to be a bank vault is now a wallet. To truly understand the basics of crypto, it’s helpful to, on a very small scale, start to procure coins and track their values.

The crypto world tends to move much faster than traditional industries, because trading is 24/7, borderless, and online. You need to be continuously curious and seek a variety of data points and POVs to have a well-informed opinion, as well as an understanding of this new landscape. This industry is growing at a rapid clip, and attracting some of the top tech minds in the world. Traditional finance is still getting its crypto playbook put together, but you don’t have to wait for the usual suspects to take the lead. There are plenty of solid resources for you, and it was my intention to provide a few of those for you in this post. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out, and a special thanks to my co-panelists, Ezra Galston, Peter Johnson, our moderator, Anish Bhatnagar, and the Booth Fintech Club, for putting together the panel.

To keep up with what we’re up to at CMT Digital, please follow us on Twitter at @CMTDigitalLtd.

CMT Digital, a division of the CMT Group, is focused on crypto asset trading, blockchain tech investments, & legal/policy engagement.

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