Asia Blockchain Review recently talked to Peter Lin, Founder and CEO of ATOM Asset Exchange (AAX), the world’s first cryptocurrency and digital asset exchange to be powered by LSEG Technology as part of the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). Lin discussed entrepreneurship, team functionality, and exchange platforms, as well as cloud services, cybersecurity risk management, and more.
Founded in 2018, AAX is part of ATOM International Technology Limited, a specialist in distributed ledger technology solutions and digital asset management and headquartered in Hong Kong. ATOM’s innovative team brings talent from top financial institutions, leading tech firms, and Internet companies, skilled in developing high-frequency trading systems, blockchain development, and financial solutions.
Asia Blockchain Review: Going from launching personal theater systems to developing a digital asset exchange may not, at first glance, seem like the most obvious entrepreneurial path. How did your experience working with virtual reality help prepare you for distributed ledger technology and digital assets management?
Peter Lin: In my previous venture, my team and I had created a consumer platform for the distribution of top Hollywood movies to the home. During that time, such movies could only be watched in cinemas, and for us to meet Hollywood’s strict content protection requirements, we had to deal a lot with cryptography — one of the main components of blockchain technology. This is how I initially became interested in blockchain.
When I evaluate emerging technologies, I’m keen to look beyond technicalities and assess them from a commercial and social point of view as well. Blockchain technology holds great promise for the future.
At AAX, we are very committed to seeing blockchain technology reach its potential. A fair, secure, and trustworthy exchange, which brings together issuers and investors and channels capital to the most promising blockchain ventures, is vital to that process.
ABR: What have been some of AAX’s most successful product offerings? What are some of the latest offerings that you’re personally excited about?
PL: Cryptocurrency has grown from a niche product to a global financial market. But for it to become truly efficient, suitable for mainstream adoption, and for institutional investors to feel assured enough to come on board, it’s necessary to continue elevating security, compliance, and performance standards.
One of the benefits of our platform that I am most excited about is that AAX is powered by LSEG Technology. This means that we are able to deliver institutional-grade trading infrastructure from an exchange which is among the largest in the world and with an impeccable reputation for performance and speed in all types of market conditions.
We are the only exchange in both Europe and Asia who’ve built a digital asset exchange on top of first-tier financial market exchange foundations.
Another key aspect of our offering is that AAX features OTC (over-the-counter), spot, and futures capabilities, all in one integrated account. At the front-end, it’s a seamless experience. But at the back-end, it’s been very technically complex to produce, and we are very pleased with this achievement by our engineers.
ABR: How big are your innovative and global teams? Are they separated by common functional experience or coordinated more as cross-functional development teams?
PL: We’ve grown fast, from just a handful of people last year to over 65 today. Many of us come from leading finance, technology, and Internet companies.
We have specialized teams across operations, business development, engineering, compliance, design, marketing, and so forth, and we absolutely encourage cross-functional collaboration.
I like to think of it in terms of atoms: when you bring different atoms together, something completely new can be created. For example, hydrogen and oxygen are both fuels for flames. But together, they form water. That’s what I like to see from the team: unexpected outcomes, surprising ideas.
ABR: Why was it important for AAX to be powered specifically by LSEG Technology’s Millennium Exchange Platform? What are the key advantages compared to other platforms you’ve considered?
PL: After the Bitcoin bubble burst at the end of 2017, it became clear to us that we were entering a new phase where the market would become more rational and mature. In a way, the crypto market is becoming more like traditional financial markets, and as such, it needs to operate at a higher standard.
Currently, there are still more than 250 exchanges worldwide, but this is not tenable. A mature market, capable of catering to both retail and institutional investors, needs exchanges that perform well, are transparent and compliant, and are very secure. I believe that only a few can do this.
LSEG Technology has proven itself in over 40 traditional markets worldwide, including first-tier markets such as the London Stock Exchange, the Singapore Stock Exchange, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
It enables us to offer a fully regulated trading platform, with ultra-low latency, capable of handling deep liquidity, and institutional volumes.
ABR: How has AAX benefited from adopting Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud service provider? How effectively does its core architecture meet your requirements for both flexibility and security?
PL: Our partnership with AWS was a logical choice, and they’ve supported us greatly. We chose AWS for several reasons.
Firstly, they already have extensive experience with large financial service providers.
AWS also allows for great commercial and geographical flexibility. We can scale up in sync with our growth whenever we need to, and since some countries require companies to store data domestically, the fact that AWS’ servers are everywhere assists us in meeting this requirement.
Lastly, AWS has an incredibly robust infrastructure in terms of security. It adds another layer to our multi-tiered security system and makes us even more resilient.
ABR: Cybersecurity risk management is now more important than ever. How has AAX organized its security systems in a world of ever-increasing cyber threats?
PL: Security is among our top priorities.
We’ve built our entire platform from the ground up, and security has been a key consideration at every stage of its development. Our platform, our custody structures, our hiring procedures, our communications — security is one of our core values, and it underpins everything.
Specifically, we’re working towards compliance with the Cryptocurrency Security Standard (CCSS), a trusted set of security measures.
Two-factor authentication is used to provide further protection for user accounts, and we operate multi-coin wallets that have multi-signature requirements.
Moreover, when it comes to our custodial architecture, the majority of digital assets are held in offline storage facilities, and upon request, we’re able to offer fully insured crypto custody within fully regulated entities.
ABR: What can you tell us about some of the institutional-grade technology being leveraged by AAX for both retail and institutional clients?
PL: AAX is an institutional-grade platform because of a variety of elements. What both retail and institutional investors are asking for is a venue characterized by trust, integrity, security, and performance.
LSEG Technology provides us with a world-class matching engine, capable of handling deep liquidity, large volumes, and assisting us in guarding traders from market manipulation.
But it’s not just technology that makes our exchange institutional grade. It also has to do with attitude. We truly believe strong protective measures are required in this industry to provide greater confidence.
We are using Refinitiv, for example, to take care of Politically Exposed Party and sanctions database screening. This way we can protect our clients and ensure that only genuine investors are participating in the market.
Also, we are in constant dialogue with regulators to ensure we are fully licensed, wherever we operate.
I have no doubt. This is the only way forward.
ABR: What are some of the challenges AAX has had to overcome over the past year since its founding? What are your targets for 2019 and going forward?
PL: What we’ve built is the result of immensely hard work. The relationships and partnerships we’ve established with advisors and investors are, likewise, the result of continuous effort. But here’s the thing: building trust takes time.
Every day, as we come closer to our official launch, you can feel that there is an atmosphere of excitement.
AAX will be there for everyone to trade on. Our goal is to engage the future, and to us, this means being at the forefront of innovation.
What we’re working towards is the professionalization of the industry, where blockchain gets to fulfill its potential and where digital assets come to be integrated with the larger, global economy.
About Asia Blockchain Review
Asia Blockchain Review is the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology. It aims to connect all blockchain enthusiasts on a regional scale and facilitate the technological foundation of blockchain through a range of group discussions, technical workshops, conferences, and consulting programs.
Our goal is to cultivate and encourage a collaborative community for our members to gather, share their experiences and endeavors in the blockchain space, and brainstorm the potential uses of blockchain technology.