Crypto in Wartime: Interview with Ben Caselin, Head of Research & Strategy at AAX
We recently caught up with Ben Caselin — Head of Research & Strategy at AAX to talk about Bitcoin and the crypto market in general amid the escalation of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. In a short interview, we asked him a few questions, and this is what he had to say.
Q: Ben, we know you are associated with AAX. Before we dive into the current global situation and Bitcoin’s role, can you please provide some information about your company?
Ben: Yes, you are right. I am the Head of Research & Strategy at AAX. AAX is one of the leading cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world. It holds the distinction of being the first one to be powered by London Stock Exchange Group’s LSEG Technology. On AAX, users can indulge in Spot and Futures trading of popular crypto assets, open interest-earning crypto savings accounts and access DeFi products. We also have a AAX Launchpad, where we help new, promising projects raise capital through token sales. At present, we support more than 100 crypto-to-crypto spot trading pairs while offering high leverage on BTC and ETH futures products.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Ben: I have a background in creative arts, social research and fintech. As head of research and strategy, I am deeply involved in developing insights into Bitcoin and DeFi while providing strategic direction for the growth and expansion of AAX. In addition to AAX, I am also a working member of the Global Digital Finance (GDF) which is a leading industry body dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of digital finance.
Q: Thanks Ben. So, as you know, the world is currently facing an uncertain situation as the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine rages on. As all markets stare at uncertainties, how do you think Bitcoin will fare?
Ben: It is a worrying development indeed. However, the one positive thing to come out of this entire situation is a clear picture of Bitcoin’s position in the global financial ecosystem as a safe-haven asset. In my opinion, the value of Bitcoin will continue to showcase such resilience throughout the conflict, along with other prominent crypto assets.
Q: Can you please elaborate on Bitcoin’s role as a safe-haven asset in the present scenario?
Ben: If there is any doubt left around Bitcoin’s status as a safe-haven asset, the past few days should remind us that in the face of war, currency devaluation, or significant disruption to legacy infrastructure, Bitcoin is the safe-haven asset of choice.
With the Russian Ruble losing more than 30% of its value overnight, following sanctions imposed over the weekend, we’ve seen a significant surge in trade volume on BTC/RUB markets. This is not speculation – these are bitcoin purchases by everyday people as well as large allocations intended for the purpose of wealth preservation.
Demand is also coming from Ukraine. Donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and now Polkadot are directly made to the Ukrainian government in what is a global show of support. Stories also tell of refugees using crypto to store their wealth and carry their funds across borders.
These developments once again highlight that Bitcoin is more than just an investable asset for portfolio allocation and returns. The narrative of crypto as a lifeline in times of economic distress and geopolitical turmoil is becoming apparent as the fundamental driver of adoption.
Q: But, what about the volatility associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
Ben: While volatility is still integral to the market, we can expect a continued uptake of Bitcoin and with it some of the larger protocol assets. But while crypto markets usually rise in unison, if fundamentals take precedence over hype, we should see more decoupling between various crypto markets – especially as the situation gets even more serious and the stakes are raised.
Crypto and politics have become increasingly intertwined, with Bitcoin dominating as a currency of the people. It should be assessed alongside other open networks and digital environments where a global community of citizens is able to connect, mobilize resources, and garner support.
Q: What are your thoughts on the impact of the current situation on Bitcoin and crypto trading?
Ben: Escalation in the ongoing conflict can trigger volatility both to the upside and downside. This is no time for excessive trading, especially with leverage. War and turmoil may be driving prices up and we could see Bitcoin charting new highs this year, but there is nothing to be bullish about.
Ultimately Bitcoin’s uptake is as much a result of constructive adoption, as it is an expression of global distress, dismay, and discontent with the current state of world affairs.
Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash