Interview: Elly Zhang – TokenCard

LATTICE80 interviews Elly Zhang, Head of Partnerships, Asia at TokenCard. She was recently identified to be one of the top Fintech personalities in our report Fintech Europe 200.

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Elly Zhang is a London based global blockchain pioneer and influencer. Elly was born in Shanghai, China, and grew up in the financial centre of Asia, Hong Kong. She has her Bachelor of Arts degree in English for Professional Communication from City University of Hong Kong and began her career training at different elite PR agencies in Hong Kong. She has built a steady network within the lifestyle and entertainment industry before jumping into blockchain.

Elly moved to London from Hong Kong in 2014, where she started her master’s degree in Applied Corporate Brand Management at Brunel University London, taking time to travel around Europe to embrace different Startup cultures. In London, she regularly meets with entrepreneurs, developers and blockchain startups to learn more about the rapid growing blockchain industry. Upon finishing her master’s degree, Elly joined Blockchain to take care of the growth in Asia market.

Elly is now the Head of Partnerships, Asia at TokenCard Limited. She’s in charge of growing business and building partnerships with interesting etherum focused projects with a special focus on Asia.

Elly is an active, well known marketeer and business development manager. She’s very well connected with all big major exchanges, miners, industry media, industry companies and also industry celebrities around the world. She foresees what is going to happen and provide relevant solutions and suggestions to help TokenCard adopt the right business and marketing strategies in entering into Asia market to achieve the growth target.

lattice80 europe 200 elly zhang tokencard
Elly Zhang, Head of Partnerships, TokenCard

Based in: London, United Kingdom

Company website: https://tokencard.io

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cryptovenus

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellyzhang/

 

When was your first encounter with blockchain technology, Elly?

Back in 2013, I left my job in Hong Kong and decided to travel around the world for 9 months with my mom. A recruiter called me and told me there is an opportunity to help a blockchain startup to manage their PR. This is the first time I heard of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Since then its only been up!

 

What about it really caught your attention in the beginning?

At the beginning I just didn’t really have any knowledge about the technology and the products it can support. I couldn’t understand how this operated, so I studied and read a lot just to gain more knowledge. This enabled me to formulate my own opinions about what was going on. One thing why I find the technology fascinating is it allows people to transact with each other without a third  party which kind of changed my whole idea about the banking system we have now. I feel very spoilt and benefited from the modern life and it’s so easy to forget about unbanked people, or those people who don’t have the right to access the banking system.

I always wanted to contribute more to society since I was young and this idea really matches what I’ve always wanted to do.

 

The understanding we had then, and the understanding we have now… how do you reckon it has evolved?

Back at the end of 2013, the whole blockchain community could be recognised as the ‘bitcoin’ community. Bitcoin was the first as well as the leading token which basically dominated the whole crypto market. The great effect of Bitcoin is ongoing, however we see a lot of new and interesting projects are happening at the same time. A lot of interesting tokens including Ethereum, NEO, EOS, Ripple. These all have their own community, their own believers. The blockchain based tokenised economy is definitely here to stay and not just a fad (as some have said recently) and I’m looking forward to seeing more and more interesting projects in the future.

 

Would you say the ‘crypto craze’ contributed to this much? Any other factors that helped bring blockchain technology to the limelight except that?

Yes. I think crypto and blockchain are connected seamlessly and they can not be separated.  No matter whether you agree or not, currently I still haven’t found any blockchain use cases in real life greater than cryptocurrencies. They are like twin brothers, similar, united but different in certain ways.

I think media exposure is a major reason that illuminates the blockchain. Thanks to the mass media exposure whether negative or positive, they raised curiosity and challenge. They did bring a lot of new people who love challenges into this technology.

 

Do most solutions being developed today really need blockchain technology to support it? What main features of blockchain technology make it so prevalent or relevant in your opinion?

Blockchain has been through a hype period in which it was portrayed to be the answer to life, the universe and everything. It then plunged into a scepticism phase, in which it was good for nothing. The reality, as often, lies in between.

Blockchain is great, but it is not for everyone. We have seen interesting use cases in supply chain and in medical record space, but where it has proven more value is in Finance and that’s what excites me the most.

The birth of blockchain aims to bring control of assets back to its owners in a decentralised way which for me is amazing. With blockchain you truly hold your assets and you can transfer them to another person without any intermediary, almost instantly, at a very low cost. This transaction is irreversible and it’s logged into a ledger that cannot be tampered with.

 

How has the experience been in building TokenCard?

It’s a completely new and fresh start in my career life. We are a small team right now but we are trying to build a product which has never appeared in the market. Our smart contract wallet is going to allow anyone around the world, even with basic knowledge about digital assets, to store their assets in a safe and secure place. I’m excited for this new journey and really wish what we are doing will bring something new to our industry.

 

You are soon to announce the consumer grade smart contract wallet – Token Wallet – where security is entrusted entirely to the blockchain. Sounds exciting. Can we get a sneak peek on how it works and expected to evolve over time?

Our TokenWallet is set to launch in May and aims to solve all the problems current wallets in the market are facing. We use Smart Contracts on the blockchain to ensure safety.

Functions like Address Whitelisting allow the user to enter, into their smart contract wallet, a few addresses that they trust as safe withdrawal destinations. A Daily Limit setting for all other non-whitelisted destinations can be specified by the user for the entire contract. This effectively allows the user to restrict the amount leaving their wallet to a desired amount per day. You can read more about it here.

 

Any important developments that you’ve recently noticed in terms of support from the government or other traditional stakeholders extended to understanding, adopting and regulating the technologies?

Most of the world’s cryptocurrency trading takes place in Asia, with Japan playing a dominant role after it introduced a licensing system for digital-asset exchanges last year. In Hong Kong, regulators have adopted a more hands-off approach while at the same time warning crypto platforms to refrain from trading anything that qualifies as a security without permission. Singapore’s deputy prime minister has called cryptocurrencies an “experiment,” adding that he doesn’t see a strong case to ban trading. Taiwan authorities are taking a wait-and-see approach, while the Philippines plans to roll out rules for ICOs by the end of the year.

 

What are the main areas of interest for you and Token Card in the next 1 year?

I look forward to working with the TokenCard team and building up partnerships with elite projects, especially in Asia, in the future – making sure our company can successfully deliver a meaningful product for users moving forward, contributing to the ecosystem and building on TokenCard’s leadership position in the industry.

 

This interview is part of a series to share experiences, perspectives and efforts of members in the global fintech + blockchain community.

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