Coronavirus is affecting the world. To date, more than 28,000 people are infected with it. And 500 died.
We talked to the CEO of Phemex and asked what he thinks about the virus. And how his team is helping to combat it.
Q1: Where is the Phemex team based?
Phemex is headquartered in Singapore. Our team members are located globally in Italy, Germany, China, Korea, UK, and other geographies.
Q2: What is the latest on-ground news about coronavirus (Wuhan Virus)? How is it affecting daily life, business and things around?
The novel coronavirus is impacting everyone in the world and especially China. Almost everyone in the big cities of China is wearing masks and is avoiding crowds. Some villages are locked down, some of our Chinese colleagues cannot leave their villages. Big companies in China are also encouraging employees to work from home for at least 14 days if possible.
Almost no one can be spotted shopping malls and lots of restaurants are closed in big cities. Schools won’t open until March. However, the supermarket is operating as normal. Though like everywhere else, people have been asked to measure the temperature before entering supermarkets.
These are all necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus. The morale of our Chinese colleagues is good so far as they are adhering to the measures. The health of our team members and their families is one of the most important things for Phemex. Luckily, managing work from home(WFH) isn’t a big deal since we are already working remotely most of the time.
The virus has heavily impacted other businesses in China. When the Chinese stock exchanges opened today, almost everything dropped down sharply. Bitcoin looks bullish right now. I believe traders are buying BTC or BTC future contracts to hedge risks. Just like people purchasing gold in the old times.
Q3: We recently witnessed your effort towards helping people deal with the spread of the Wuhan Virus. Can you tell us more about your contribution to the cause and why it is needed?
Back in Morgan Stanley, every year, I would participate in some kind of charity event. I helped economically challenged families to build homes and the likes. I personally found those giving back activities were amazing. They helped so many people I have never met. This also made me a more compassionate person. All our co-founders agreed to continue such culture and a core value at the very beginning of Phemex. Giving back is one of our core values.
Phemex team is operating globally. We have team members around the world. I started to encourage twitter followers to donate to Australia bush fires last year. When Corona Virus broke out we tried to find ways to support the cause. Not simply donate money, we wanted to get involved at a deeper level.
In this mask donation, I didn’t participate directly. One of our co-founders Max got connected to Skakt from twitter. Skakt provided us sources in JP. Cecilia, Phemex CMO found some direct connection to the Wuhan hospital doctors. They made many phone calls and spent lots of time on it.
— Luca Le (@AMwithLuca) February 2, 2020
I know what Max and Cecilia were doing. It is really cool to see all our co-founder reached this consensus on our core values. They just nailed it. Max basically asked who has connections with Wuhan doctors, after he found it was super inefficient to get through the local red cross. Cecilia just simply did her work and replied with the contacts of doctors from 2 major hospitals in Wuhan. There’s not much to explain during the process, they both understand how to do the right thing at the right moment. Everyone made an extra effort, that is how we did it.
Q4: Are you planning to do more? How can the community support you in your efforts with this cause?
We are working on our next donations to support Wuhan. As we realized now, it becomes ever more difficult to find a large amount of N95 masks even from Japan. After our first batch, the Japanese government also started to limit the purchase of N95 masks.
We are still working on it. We are open to good suggestions. Importantly, we still have a direct connection with Wuhan doctors. We know lots of details about how to donate and help them efficiently.
Max found Stakt on CZ Zhao’s twitter about 1M donation. Stakt left one comment on CZ’ twitter saying Japan has mask supply. And that was how Max started to talk to Stakt. To build trust with Stakt, we sent Bitcoins in advance for purchasing masks. We believe wonderful things happen on the internet.
It was my honor to work with the kind-hearted people @Phemex_official.
I don't even know #crypto yet they instilled their trust in me to be their boots on the ground here in Japan to get this shipment of 10,000 masks to the hard working doctors of #Wuhan treating #coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/9k0oDFzmjb
— STÂKT (@piptitious) February 1, 2020
Q5: Do you feel that the Wuhan Virus spreading situation should be getting better or worse in the next few days?
It seems everything is heading in the right direction. The number of suspected cases seems to be stabler now. There is news that a potential medicine effective for the virus has been identified. The price of essentials including food, water is stable in China. A good part of Phemex team members is from China. The moral is positive. And thankfully none of them or their family or friends are infected.
Although we know Wuhan is in lack of those medical resources. But from news and other sources, I heard the government is doing best to make sure the shortage of supply won’t last long.
What worries me is the economic impact aftermath. The virus started in China, but the world right now is more connected thus the impact is expected to be global. Lots of companies in China have been impacted. And that is because employees have to stay at home for 14 days to get over the dormant period after back from the Chinese New Year. Not all businesses can run remotely.
Q6: There are rumors that a lot of individuals are converting USD to BTC/Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and are trying to get out of China. Is this correct?
I don’t have a good data source to support that. However, Bitcoin does look bullish right now. The coming halving could be another reason. Historically, Bitcoin already shows it is becoming a global asset to avoid risks upon those global events. 2020 has a dramatic beginning. If people worry about China or the global economy in 2020, switching to Bitcoin, just like purchasing gold, is a rational move.
Q7: Do you believe this has a serious effect on the bitcoin price or would you attribute the recent BTC price action to the upcoming halving? Any other factor you would consider?
Besides, coronavirus and halving, as I already explained above, 2 other factors I believe will impact bitcoin price are
1) adoption and 2) breakthrough research upon blockchain.
No doubt we will have more and more bitcoin adopters in 2020. As we can see from 2017, a lot of money has been invested in projects and researches into blockchain technologies. That’s a key factor for this industry to grow.
Q8: What do you see the impact of the new coronavirus in China on Bitcoin mining?
I am not an expert in the mining business. As far as I know, the ASIC mining machine is critical to bitcoin farmers, most of them are produced in China. We expect to see a short-term supply shortage. Lots of big mining sites do not need many human resources to maintain. They are sensitive to the electricity bill but do not heavily rely on human resources.