Guy Hirsch is Kraken’s new CEO for North America and joined the Kraken team this month after building cryptocurrency businesses at Samsung and eToro. He is an experienced trader in the crypto space and has some forward thinking ideas about the future of the industry.

Hirsch will oversee Kraken’s North American business and will be responsible for growth and expansion. He has been in crypto since 2010 and is excited to join the team to propel the industry into the next decade.

We sat down with Hirsch to talk about his crypto background and philosophy.

Kraken: Why don’t we go over your background for a bit? How did you get interested in cryptocurrencies?

Hirsch: I started in 2010. That’s when things started to get more active around Bitcoin. I was in San Francisco and was very involved in startups and startup accelerators. I had my own startup at the time, a retail analytics platform called Saygent, but I started listening to the bitcoin talk.

We had some regular dinners with Silicon Valley people and I was sitting with vinny lingham, the founder of Civic. We spent three hours talking about bitcoin. He urged me to put up at least $10,000 and convince my friends and family to do the same. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his advice, but I went home and downloaded a wallet and started experimenting with it.

I was very curious and little by little I understood a little more about the people behind cryptocurrencies, that is, the cypherpunks. I understood that it was also an ideological movement to create native digital money. That’s when I fully settled into crypto.

Then in 2013 my startup was contracted by Samsung to develop the first POS system for Samsung retail stores. I proposed that they incorporate Bitcoin as a form of payment, perhaps for tourists who did not want to spend local currency. That was the first time I had officially worked on anything related to Bitcoin.

In 2017, Yoni Assia, co-founder of eToro and a longtime friend, offered me the position of CEO of eToro in the US. Basically, the argument was that eToro was growing dramatically and that cryptocurrencies are the future. It would help expedite that mission. That was very attractive to me. I spent five years actually building a cryptocurrency business in the US. I was doing marketing, working on compliance, working on regulation. A bit of everything.

Kraken came along and I think it’s very unique to find a company that stands up for a set of public values ​​and supports the crypto mission.

K: What are you most excited about cryptocurrencies in 2023?

Hirsch: So I think there are several things. One is the institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies. I think that means both on the commercial side as well as adoption by fi commerce shops like banks and brokers. In fact, trad-fi is starting to offer crypto exposure to their clients and they are trading it on their own books. Even corporate treasuries are considering allocating cryptocurrencies in order to have a more diversified portfolio. And finally, on the institutional side, I’m particularly excited that US registered investment advisers are more knowledgeable about cryptocurrency. They are putting together a simple, viable and compatible way to expose their clients to cryptocurrencies.

I’m also excited about NFTs. But when I say NFT, it’s about how culture meets technology. NFTs are the ultimate way to marry those things. I think we will see “real” NFTs with new partners using the technology for ticketing, events, and real physical goods. That will be the next wave of getting a billion people into crypto because of affinity rather than speculation.

K: Last question: if you could sit down with one person, dead or alive, to talk about cryptography, who would it be?

Hirsch: That’s a good question. I think former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin because I want to understand why he was so strongly against cryptocurrency. What were the forces that pushed you to try to make all these anti-crypto moves? I thought we had a number of people in that administration who were very pro-cript. I wonder why Mnuchin was so strongly against it. I’d love to spend three hours with him on that and maybe change his mind and figure out how to help current and future officials adopt crypto.

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