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Interview: CEO of OKEx Jay Hao and the Lightning Network Team on Platform’s Adoption of Bitcoin Layer-2 Scalability Solution

Republished by Plato



The leading global crypto exchange and derivatives trading platform OKEx recently announced support for Bitcoin’s scalability solution, Lightning Network. Regarding the new development, we had the opportunity to interact with Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx and the Lightning Network (LN) team. We asked them few questions and this is what they had to say.

Q: Is it true that OKEx is going to adopt the Bitcoin Lightning Network? How is it going to work in OKEx’s context?

Jay Hao (OKEx): Yes! We began our integration journey with the help of Lightning Labs in January and recently completed the integration of the Lightning Network. This means that OKEx will become a participating node in the network and users on the OKEx exchange will be able to select the Lightning Network option when they want to deposit or withdraw Bitcoin for cheaper and faster transactions.

Q: What are the foreseeable benefits of Lightning Network for OKEx as well as its userbase?

Jay Hao (OKEx): For OKEx, we are thrilled to be able to support the development of the Bitcoin ecosystem by partnering with Lightning Labs and increasing the number of participating nodes in the Lightning Network. This partnership highlights our deep commitment to the continued growth of the space and, for our users, it provides them with the benefits of greatly reduced transaction times and fees – they can send and receive BTC almost instantly and at next-to-no cost.

LN: OKEx’s Lightning Network integration brings a massive UX upgrade to bitcoin for their users. Deposits and withdrawals over Lightning are almost instant and nearly free, especially compared to on-chain transactions. On-chain bitcoin is the slowest asset moving around the crypto financial system, but Lightning makes it the fastest, opening up new use cases like inter-exchange arbitrage and instantly topping up margin during periods of high volatility. We are excited for OKEx’s users to experience the benefits of bitcoin over Lightning.

Q: Can you give us some insights into the entire process of collaborating with OKEx to implement Lightning Network?

LN: OKEx made it easy! Our open-source code and documentation at simplifies the onboarding process and makes it easy for anyone to integrate Lightning. OKEx utilized our publicly available resources and our team was available to answer questions to support the process. Another great resource for implementation is the LND Developer Slack, where our team and the entire community is available to answer questions and help newcomers onboard to Lightning.

Q: The recent Bitcoin bull run drove a lot of people towards crypto trading platforms resulting in a surge in traffic and trading volumes. How is OKEx handling it? Will the implementation of Lightning Network make any difference if a similar scenario repeats in the future?

Jay Hao (OKEx): It’s true, we have seen a large increment in our user base from all around the globe. In the APAC region alone, trading volume shot up 3x from September 2020 until now. We are continually upgrading our infrastructure to ensure a smooth onboarding experience for new customers and a seamless trading experience for existing customers. Integrating the Lightning Network will allow them all to obtain cheaper and fast transactions. This is just one of the ways in which we aim to make OKEx their platform of choice.

Q: Where does the development of Lightning Network stand at the moment? What are the future plans to further improve Bitcoin’s L2 solution?

LN: The Lightning Network is fairly stable at this point. As node operators have learned how best to manage their liquidity, payment success rates are continuing to grow and end-user adoption is increasing. OKEx joining the network is a huge vote of confidence, and we expect their users to be impressed by how fast and cheap bitcoin transactions can be. Future improvements will be focused on UX with features like Atomic Multipath Payments (AMP) that allow for static invoices, and on optimizations enabling higher throughput for use cases like streaming payments and high-frequency trading.

Q: Will it be possible for you to let our readers know how many exchanges and trading platforms are currently using Lightning Network?

LN: There are over 15 exchanges currently using the Lightning Network, tracked in this community repository. Bitrefill recently announced that in Q1 they began receiving payments over the Lightning Network from 105 different countries! So usage is very widespread.

Q: What are the steps taken by your team to further popularize the Lightning Network?

LN: The majority of our work is behind the scenes, building the infrastructure that Lightning-enabled companies like OKEx depend on. When end-users are exposed to the dramatically improved experience of Lightning payments over on-chain payments, Lightning speaks for itself. We do shine a spotlight on the growing Lightning community in our monthly newsletter, and host biweekly voice chat rooms on Clubhouse and on Discord for those that want to learn directly from our team.

Q: What are your thoughts about the future of Bitcoin as the price continues to rise? Will it ever become a layman’s currency, or will it just end up reinforcing its position as an investment instrument?

Jay Hao (OKEx): We are still in the early days of adoption and, as each new wave of adopters onboards, we see increased volatility, which leads to many analysts and naysayers to point to Bitcoin’s inefficiency as a medium of exchange. Moreover, as the cryptocurrency appreciates in value, it is natural that its attractiveness as a store of value increases. However, I do believe that Bitcoin has the potential to become a dominant form of money. I don’t think that it will be the only one but, with the increased improvement and adoption of technologies like the Lightning Network making it easier and faster to use, and as more people transfer over to using Bitcoin, there is an ever-increasing case for it to become a layman’s currency. OKEx is proud to play a part in helping to take BTC to the rest of the world.

LN: As previously mentioned, Bitrefill recently announced that they received payments over Lightning from 105 different countries in Q1 of 2021. Bluewallet is seeing 500+% annual user growth in their mobile Lightning wallet product in countries like Brazil, Nigeria, Argentina, and Israel. Strike launched in El Salvador a few weeks ago with their mobile Lightning wallet targeted at remittances and immediately became the most downloaded overall app in the country. They allow end-users to pay Lightning invoices from their fiat-denominated balances so that the user spends dollars but the receiver earns bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a currency for everyone! It is already serving a widely distributed group of users. While hodling is still the dominant use case for bitcoin, it’s much more than just a digital rock, especially when lifted into the Lightning Network. As more people worldwide switch to the Bitcoin standard, we expect this trend to continue.

Q: Anything you would like to add?

Jay Hao (OKEx): It is our belief that the cryptocurrency industry can only grow through collaboration. By working together, industry participants can help achieve the goal of advancing cryptocurrency globally and empowering individuals to achieve financial freedom. We couldn’t be happier to be able to take this next step forward with such an innovative partner in Lightning Labs.

LN: We are on a mission to promote financial freedom by bringing bitcoin to the next billion people with the Lightning Network. Every new node strengthens Lightning’s network effect, especially when the new node has as many users as OKEx. We are thrilled that OKEx has upgraded their bitcoin UX for users, allowing them to transfer value instantly and cheaply with the same security assurances as on-chain bitcoin.

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Elon Musk Should Study Bitcoin Mining More, Advised Kraken’s CEO Jesse Powell

Republished by Plato



Elon Musk should study more bitcoin mining as the cryptocurrency is actually a lot greener than people believe, commented Kraken’s CEO, Jesse Powell. In a recent interview, the executive also admitted that the crypto market has cooled off after the latest bull market.

Musk Should Study More BTC Mining

Tesla’s CEO made the news last month after the EV-maker disabled bitcoin payments citing environmental concerns. Musk started to frequently bash the high energy consumption levels BTC mining requires, and the numerous Twitter debates didn’t really change his opinion.

The most optimistic promise coming from the billionaire and the electric vehicle giant was that the company would enable BTC payments again once there’s proof that the majority of bitcoin coming is from renewable sources.

Jesse Powell seems to be among those who believe that the primary cryptocurrency is actually a lot greener than people think. Speaking to Bloomberg, the CEO of Kraken, noted that Elon Musk should study more BTC mining as the asset is doing a lot in terms of renewable energy usage.

“I think there could be greener alternatives. However, I think bitcoin is a lot greener than people give it credit for. It is a way to capture a lot of discarded and lost energy. It is a way to bootstrap renewables. I think it’s doing a lot for the renewable energy sector.

I don’t know for how long Elon has been studying this, but I think he’s got some more studying to do on this topic.”

Jesse Powell. Source: Bloomberg

Bull Market Cooling Down?

The CEO of the veteran US-based crypto exchange outlined the significant growth in user base in the first few months of 2021. Moreover, he noted that more customers have signed up in that short period than in the entire 2020.


However, he also admitted that the trend might be reversing as the cryptocurrency market is no longer in such a bullish territory. Bitcoin and most altcoins have slid by up to 50% of their respective peaks, and most traders tend to be on the sidelines when such price movements transpire, Powell explained.

He also noted that “people who just came for the quick gains” were those who sold off more rapidly during the most violent stages of the market crash last month. In contrast, long-term holders have kept accumulating, which is actually evident from recent reports.


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What is Phemex’s all-new Learn and Earn program?





A decade ago, Bitcoin was merely a philosophical research paper for a new type of digital currency. Today, there is no major technology or financial publication or news portal with no cryptocurrency stories or blockchain news. 

From being ridiculed as magic internet money backed by thin air to narratives of the wild west, nerdy money, get-rich-quick schemes, and gaining mainstream consciousness as we settle into 2021, the crypto industry has indeed seen it all. 

Since Bitcoin’s inception over ten years ago, things have changed considerably. Industries across the world have embraced its underlying blockchain technology. Its main characteristics include decentralization, transparency, immutability, and automation that has the potential to create a multitude of use cases and replace legacy frameworks.

The digital asset industry has not been that lucky. The narrative of “Blockchain, not Bitcoin,” is still very much prevalent in several regions. Countries struggling with political instability and hyperinflation, such as Venezuela, and Argentina have witnessed a formidable interest in cryptocurrencies. The sentiment resembled the nations that have a massive unbanked local population. 

Today, the great dream of cryptocurrency is still very much alive despite all its struggles. The cryptocurrency industry has not only unlocked access to financial services for users around the globe it has also opened avenues for new applications. The remittance, for one, can be a nightmare for many living in developing countries. Crypto and blockchain technology aims to settle transactions instantly with significantly lower or even negligible fees. 

The main objective behind asset-backed tokens, on the other hand, is to grant ownership to assets like real estate and precious metals. In addition, stablecoins have their own use cases and have seen unprecedented growth because they trade uniformly with fiat. The list does not end there. 

While pessimism has dwindled, there is still plenty of skepticism around the entire asset class. 

What’s impeding crypto adoption?

There are numerous reasons for the hindrance. But one that stands out is the lack of education. It is a daunting issue that plagues the cryptocurrency industry even today, in this day and age when everything is just one click away. Many people don’t understand the industry. It is as simple as that. 

The digital asset realm is a complex one. While there are plenty of resources to fall back on, there need to be better and more accessible vehicles, one that is perfectly curated for the newbies – simple and easy-to-follow lessons on everything crypto and blockchain. And what’s better than earning a reward for learning this groundbreaking technology? Seems far-fetched? Not anymore. Pemex’s newly launched program dubbed ‘Learn and Earn’ aims to do just that.

Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Phemex is one of the most prominent platforms in the world. Just two years since it was first launched, Phemex has already emerged as one of the most trustworthy exchanges in the industry. Its user base exploded quickly to over a million traders, thanks to user-friendly platforms and unique offerings. 

It has recently rolled out an all-new educational program called “Learn and Earn,” which aims to provide users with simplified concepts on different cryptocurrency and blockchain-related concepts. This program includes an in-depth course structure coupled with intuitive lessons and interactive videos that offer a unique and fun learning process. But it does not end there. 

Phemex plans to reward its users via Learn and Earn after the completion of each lesson. How? Users will have to take a short quiz to test their knowledge, and if all the answers are correct, they will be incentivized. 

It is one of the most beginner-friendly and fun ways to learn more about the new financial world. Learn and Earn is put together into a few fundamental courses, each comprising its own set of sub-lessons. These cover introductory passages, explainer videos, and a final quiz for users to test their knowledge. Upon answering all questions correctly, Phemex offers a reward in the form of trading bonuses and cryptocurrencies. 

Lean and Earn’s first set of courses proceed with the platform’s essential features. This program encompasses some core concepts about the workings of cryptocurrencies and the process of buying, trading, and selling them on an exchange. Rewards will be in the form of trading bonuses that participants can use with perpetual contracts on Phemex to exercise their proficiency on the subject matter. 

In the days to come, Phemex also plans to broaden its course material and reward users directly in cryptocurrency assets. However, in order to receive rewards, the users are required to complete KYC protocols. As of now, the program is not widely available, but the team behind the project is working on expanding the Lean and Earn initiative on a global scale.

In short, Learn And Earn aims to cater to mainly the beginner but is also available for experienced crypto enthusiasts who seek to know more about the industry and how to trade digital assets seamlessly. This program is essentially for everyone who wants clarity and eventually wants to foray into the trading space of cryptocurrencies but does not know where to begin. It is open to anyone who wants to build a passive income stream by just learning about cryptocurrencies.

Incentivising users for learning about the technology, what a great way to spur adoption as well as trading activity! This will help more and more individuals dispel myths and filter out FUDs and FOMOs that are often endorsed by the critics and the flag bearers of centralized financial infrastructure.  

For the first course, there will be three lessons – each worth $2. So if you complete the first course you’ll get a total of $6. You can find more information on Phemex and their Twitter page.


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What is ‘bitcoin business driving’, for MicroStrategy

Republished by Plato



The Bitcoin community has been in a feud with the centralized authorities for a very long time mainly because of the increasing restrictions and scrutiny the sector has faced. A majority of the proponents in the crypto ecosystem express a profound unease about central banks; many have equated cash to ‘trash’ and a ‘melting ice cube,’ while Bitcoin, on the other hand, is touted as “digital gold.”

Consider this industry leader, Michael Saylor, who’s been backing Bitcoin irrespective of the skepticism around it. As per Bitcoin Treasuries, the publicly traded enterprise software firm MicroStrategy made three massive purchases in less than a year. At the time of writing, the firm holds approximately 91,326 Bitcoin. According to US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, the said firm plans to sell class A common stock, worth $1 billion to buy more of the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

CEO of Microstrategy Michael Saylor, recently appeared in a CNBC interview to provide his take on why Bitcoin was better than Gold.

Can Bitcoin outperform the precious metal? Well, Saylor reaffirmed his stance in the Bitcoin vs Gold debate. While speaking at CNBC’s Fast Money, he opined:

“I think in the past 12 months, we have all been waiting for inflation, and I think we are seeing it now. I think investors are seeing that bitcoin is up by 330% and gold is up 7% in that period. So, bitcoin is outperforming gold as an inflation hedge by a factor of 50.”

When Saylor was asked whether Microstrategy’s investors were ok with the firm doubling down on BTC, he added:

“It’s actually an ideal situation, because our stock was trading about $120 a share with $60 a share in cash. Our investors told us that cash was trash, it was a liability on our balance sheet. If we had given it all back, we would be trading at $60 a share… The core of the business is up 10%, the bitcoin business is driving shareholder returns

Ecoinometrics’ illustration in its latest newsletter incorporates inflation as a parameter to provide data on the yield for gold vs Bitcoin.

Inflation- Gold and real yield

Source: Ecoinometrics

Inflation- Bitcoin and real yield

Source: Ecoinometrics

Bitcoin’s impressive surge as compared to Gold is one of the many reasons for its increasing institutional and retail investors. A recent addition, billionaire Paul Tudor Jones admitted his affection towards ‘Bitcoin as a portfolio diversifier’ and aims to double or triple his allocation into BTC.

Having said that, the following statement did come as a surprise to Saylor. He stated:

“I’m surprised they are not increasing their allocation by a factor of 10 because Bitcoin is 50 times better (than Gold).”

Although volatility has been an issue, Microstrategy investors and shareholders remain Bitcoin supporters for a long period as evident from their bitcoin holding activities.

Saylor, a vocal Bitcoin enthusiast, also shared his point of view on Ethereum. He said:

“ETH is a digital application that is looking to dematerialize the JPMorgan building, the banking establishments, and all of the exchanges.”

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