"The Billions Flowing Into DeFi Tokens Come From Greed and not Belief in DeFi" - Mohanned Halawani by@profile

"The Billions Flowing Into DeFi Tokens Come From Greed and not Belief in DeFi" - Mohanned Halawani

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"Seeing that there was a massive influx of ICOs back then, and having over seven years of experience in the communication industry, I figured that I should merge my hobby in trading cryptocurrencies with my professional talent in communications/public relations."

Interview Transcript:

You started one of the most prominent PR agencies in the crypto industry when you were just 27 years old. Can you tell us a bit about the journey of building Crypto PR.

Crypto PR’s success comes from several things, but to put it simply, I genuinely had an idea that translated into a product that was better than the competition.

I was introduced to the crypto industry from an HSBC banker; at the time I was a PR consultant for the world’s largest PR agency, Edelman. I used to handle the PR for well-known corporations such as HSBC, Marriott International, and LinkedIn. By summer 2017, I was the only person in the agency who had hands-on experience with cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

Seeing that there was a massive influx of ICOs back then, and having over seven years of experience in the communication industry, I figured that I should merge my hobby in trading cryptocurrencies with my professional talent in communications/public relations. 

By November 2017, I onboarded Edelman, their first cryptocurrency client, and a month later I left my job. By January 2018, I walked into an exclusive crypto event in Dubai and pitched myself as a freelancer for the first time ever.

There were about 25 ICO projects with booths erected across the hall, and I talked to each one and successfully landed five of them as clients on the spot. A month later, I got a surprising call from CNBC asking me to talk crypto at a one-hour live interview during their peak-time program. This was the first time Crypto PR went officially mainstream.

The secret of our continuous growth in this field comes from being honest and straightforward with all our clients, never have we ever over-promised on things that we couldn’t achieve just for the sake of winning a client. I can count numerous agencies that have done unethical things to win clients over, but eventually karma strikes back. 

What is your current vision of the crypto market? What are the three most significant events that have happened in the past three months?

Crypto will continue to grow, and I see that we’re on the verge of global adoption. 

During the current pandemic we are experiencing, crypto proved to be the best form of transfer of value. In the comfort of their own homes, people are able to continuously make global payments/transfers through cryptocurrencies, at a time when many bank transactions are frozen due to worldwide lockdowns. 

As for the time being, the three main events that recently occurred in the crypto market are: 

  • The rise of DeFi tokens
  • Global sovereign institutions and authorities adopting crypto
  • Increasing interest in NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens)   

PayPal recently announced that they will be adding crypto-buying services to their platform. Do you think that the era of crypto wallets for the mass market is over?

So this is very interesting, the situation here will surely exceed the demand for crypto adoption among the mainstream audience. PayPal has already mentioned they received an overwhelming amount of requests from its current users to subscribe into their crypto services, with a waiting list that is triple the number they previously expected.

However, they are just allowing 10% of their US customers to test their crypto wallet in the early stages, prior to mass adoption in Q1 2021. 

PayPal’s adoption of crypto will surely entice current crypto traders and newcomers to join their platform, and it may even impact the current crypto exchanges given their continuous hacking issues.

PayPal could be a safer place to store and trade crypto, but it won’t lead to shutting down the use of current crypto wallets. If anything, it may lead to a huge influx of newcomers to open wallets in current exchanges to risk trading with a variety of tokens. 

DeFi added another $3 billion in locked value since September; what do you think about this? Is this a long-term game or just a new ICO scam?

If I was asked this question three years ago, I would have said that DeFi’s market cap will continue to rise to astronomical levels… 

But the reality seems to be far from the truth. We are seeing many scams that emerge everyday, and DeFi protocols have made scamming much easier than in the past. At the moment, anyone can develop a DeFi token, and at least 80% of them turn out to be a scam.

I believe that the billions flowing into DeFi tokens came from greed to make a quick buck and not out of belief in DeFi.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying DeFi is not worth the money flowing into it, but I would wish that people would pay attention to the projects they invest in, as the technology has remarkable solutions and it does have a real use that considers long-term perspectives.     

Personally, I wouldn’t invest in a DeFi project that conceals the name of its founders, and has bad branding with basic websites (if any). Those that start a token sale without clearly showing effort in creating it are a red flag. 

We already saw a mass audience come to the crypto market in 2017, and it seems that everyone who is interested in crypto is already here. Do you think that the current user base is at its maximum, or will we see a new phase of “to the moon” again?

I would argue that crypto market did see a new wave of adopters, especially those that missed the 2017 wave and were spectating another good entry, MetaMask has recorded 400% growth compared to 2019, with over a million new wallets opened to trade on decentralised exchanges such as Uniswap. 

The recent Paypal announcement, additional to the 601k BTCs held by companies listed on Nasdaq, and having some banks (such as Gazprombank) offering bitcoin trading and custody, could be signs that we are marching towards a wide scale global adoption.

How long do you think it will be possible to receive such a big profitability rate in DeFi?

When trust in DeFi projects increases through a Proof-of-Work and concept, and when a new regulation is set to curb the emergence of scammy projects. 

Are you earning with DeFi yourself?

I did invest in DeFi for experimental purposes, and it would be profitable for those that put their time and effort in researching the projects on the market, but the fact is that everyone has tasted both the sweet and the bitter of this highly volatile market. 

What top three blockchain projects that appeared in 2020 stood out to you the most?

I wouldn’t be able to highlight a specific project, but I would say that I’m a big fan of deflationary tokens. I’ve seen those become the most profitable asset to traders in the long term.

Do you think that DeFi is just another instrument for traders? It seems that the crypto product market fit is trading, and the reality has shown that all of those “decentralized ideas” are just not viable.

DeFi has made buying and selling tokens easier than ever, so it did improve the trading process, and any token could be easily listed for free on DEXs; therefore, the dictating demands of centralized exchanges ceased to exist with DeFi tokens. 

But for most of us traders that are currently involved in DeFi, yes, they are clearly in it for a quick buck, and DeFi did not disappoint from this perspective. We’ve seen projects skyrocket in value in minutes, but not because they have a great idea or they are solving a world problem. The truth is, they just hyped their tokens on Twitter and Telegram.

How do you see the current regulation landscape in crypto? What has changed since 2017?

It still seems to be that we are still in the wild; governments still did not find a reasonable way to regulate crypto, probably because of the lack of experience in the industry, or because they still see it as a relatively small market. After all, the all-time high of crypto market capitalization stood at the boundaries of $900 billion, which is just 1/10th of the current market capitalization of crypto’s most relatable asset, gold.  

But based on recent events, the IMF has hosted an online conference that discussed the creation of a unified CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), and to give central banks power to adjust fiscal policies on an individual basis rather than the current “one size fits all” method. If these changes come into realization, then the regulation landscape in crypto could change significantly. 

It seems that the SEC has shown us what could happen if you try to scam users through ICOs. Do you think that DeFi will share that same fate?

I hope so. No scam should be tolerated, and the SEC is doing the right thing by prosecuting scammers. But in the case of DeFi, scammers try to be more sneaky by concealing their identities, making it harder for regulators to track them. Nonetheless, there are several ways to track scammers and eventually they get caught. 

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