Leading cryptocurrency exchange bitcoin.com.au has appointed a new CEO, Ben Ingram, formerly a digital strategy director at accountancy company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Ingram, who left PwC in March, joins Rob Jesudason, former finance chief at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in the world of cryptocurrency. Jesudason left his prior position in May to take over running Block.one, a Hong Kong crypto company.
In his new position, Ingram will be working on the exchange function of bitcoin.com.au and will also be developing future cryptocurrency-based financial instruments such as superannuation. The company is a popular place to exchange fiat into bitcoin and back again.
Ingram said: ‘Rather than a full exchange, the company offers more of a gateway service. It provides people one of the easiest ways to get into bitcoin – and importantly, get back out of bitcoin. That includes same-day settlement, so cash back into your account as at the date of the transaction.”
At present, bitcoin.com.au only operates services in the two largest-cap cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ethereum. However, Ingram said that they are considering expanding to include exchange services for other popular cryptocurrencies.
As well as plans for a crypto exchange, Ingram is considering options for clients to invest self-managed superannuation funds into cryptocurrencies. He said: “There’s not many tangible examples of crypto-based investment products yet. SMSFs have typically been the preserve of the wealthy. It’s a vehicle where you can manage your own investments, and you also carry the cost of that audit.’
The underlying blockchain technology that acts as the ledger for cryptocurrency transactions would make the auditing process ‘incredibly simple’, according to Ingram. He said that younger customers who are just starting their super funds and own crypto assets might see the advantage in self-managing.
Australia has billions tied up in super investments, and the industry is bracing to hear what the current banking royal commission will have to say about the sector when it turns its attention to how banks manage superannuation funds at its next session in August.
Ingram went on to say that there are cryptocurrency-focused funds emerging. As the blockchain matures, more coins come to market and cryptos previously thought of as altcoins begin to become more mainstream. He said that such funds could begin to crop up as part of regular investment portfolios, possibly to hedge against ‘poorly managed central bank currencies’.
This is at odds with recent commentary from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). Head of Payments Policy Tony Richards said that while cryptocurrencies have a promising future, he does not expect them to take off in Australia due to the stability of the Australian dollar.
The RBA sees local usage of crypto to be so small that it does not have an impact on fiscal policy or the stability of the financial system.
Regardless of these views, Ingram is optimistic about the future of the sector and the direction that bitcoin.com.au is taking, saying: “We’re in the early-stage development of a new protocol. I think the core premise of distributed ledger technology has very obvious widespread appeal. We know this tech doesn’t have a dead end.”