So here I was at the Securities Commission, talking about Eskimos and Bitcoin!

by Kevin Koo

It was just after lunch, on the 8th of July, 2019, at the Securities Commission (SC) building in Kuala Lumpur. Serious looking attendees, many dressed in coat and tie, slowly filled the 10 tables in the training hall.

It was a full day’s training called “The Future of Cryptocurrencies”, organized by SIDC (Securities Industry Development Corporation), and Edmund and I had the privilege of being the afternoon session speakers.

Our topic: Blockchain regulation.

Microphone in hand, I launched into my session. “Hi, my name is Kevin. Welcome to all of you. I’d like to start with a joke…. To get things started. So, does anyone here know, where an Eskimo keeps his Bitcoin?”

The crowd, about 90 people, looked back. Nobody seemed to know how to answer… maybe they didn’t have the answer.

“In a cold wallet!” I said.

There were puzzled looks, but I also spotted a few people chuckling.

I began to explain. “A cold wallet is an offline wallet, for the secure storage of crypto…”

That day, we had a diverse, yet high powered crowd of bankers, investment advisors, and regulators. The regulators, comprising folks from Bank Negara Malaysia, and Securities Commission, represented almost a quarter of the attendees. Their presence made the event seem super important.

The morning session had been a crash course to cryptocurrencies, conducted by two speakers from Sinegy, a cryptocurrency exchange. Sinegy had recently been awarded a provisional license by the SC to operate a cryptocurrency exchange in Malaysia.

Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunity. It was a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will never forget how it began. (If this was a movie, this is where the visuals fade to black and white.)

The Telephone Call That Made It Happen

It began a few weeks ago when I received a phone call from Edmund. Edmund Yong, my friend, is an experienced trainer and consultant for regulatory compliance in the blockchain.

“Remember how you mentioned that you wanted to get into training?” he said.

Yes, I remembered.

“How would you like to conduct a training session at the SIDC with me?” he asked.

At first, I felt afraid and unqualified to accept his invitation. Many attendees, I felt, would be more knowledgeable than myself. However, after some thought, I changed my mind. It was a rare opportunity. I had enough time to prepare. So, I agreed, provided he was conducting the training together!

Edmund understood my worry. To help me prepare, he invited me to another SIDC training, in mid-June 2019, where he was a speaker. The topic was about “Blockchains for Business”. During his session, I helped to bring the microphone to various participants, and encouraged them to voice their questions, or share their comments. The participants shared their comments freely, and their discussions flowed freely. Sadly, time constraints did not allow for lengthy discussions.

By July 2019, we were back at the SIDC, talking about Eskimos and Bitcoin.

Training At The SIDC: What We Covered

Here is, in brief, what we covered that afternoon (other than Eskimos and Bitcoin):

  • Regulatory approaches around the world
  • Digital tokens, and initial coin offerings
  • Token taxonomy
  • Case studies from Malaysia.
  • Assessing crypto projects from various perspectives.

It was a lot of ground to cover, and to my surprise, we could not cover it all. I remember trying to present a certain slide, when I heard Edmund say, “We have to move on to the next section…”

As we conducted the training, I could see that many participants were gaining new knowledge. Cryptocurrency and digital tokens were, to many, a new concept, and the use cases, including initial coin offerings, were of interest to them.

Perhaps unspoken, but weighing on their minds, was the question, “Will blockchain eat into my industry?” Many understood and probably anticipated, that blockchain would be here to stay. What they did not understand was how.

One of the questions raised by a participant was about central bank digital currency (CBDC). He inquired if there was a chance that CBDC would replace conventional currencies. To me, that demonstrated that he could appreciate a future where the monetary system has evolved. After all, it seemed that countries that decide to go cashless, often have some quibble against uncensorable cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin.

Conclusion: Training At The SIDC

All in all, it was a great experience for me, and I am grateful to my friend for inviting me to conduct the training with him. I’m also grateful to the SIDC for inviting Edmund (who invited me to join him) to conduct the training. It was a great experience, and I hope that there will be another occasion.