Joe Stanley

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Understaffing Is A Real Problem In The Crypto Industry

Few weeks after the massive $500 Million Coincheck hack, the company has come forth with a novel excuse which caused the issue — lack of experienced engineers. With the blockchain and cryptocurrency space growing each day, it is imperative that demand for employees grow. But what really is the on-ground situation in Japan?

I took it myself to check out.

Shortage of Skilled Labour

In the days following the Coincheck fiasco the company came forth and blamed the short-staffed situation in its risk mitigation division that led to the hack. Koichiro Wada, Coincheck’s C.E.O, explained that while the company was aware of the staff shortage, primirality in its internal controls, management and risk division, they couldn’t do much about it as the market seemed to have an acute shortage of skilled professionals in general.

This insight adds yet another point to the growing list of concerns that the industry faces, including: lawsuits, government regulations, thefts, negative media coverage, bank tightdowns, amongst others. All this in a country that arguably the most progressive when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption.

Japan legalize bitcoin in April 2017, making it amongst the first country to do so. The country has a vibrant cryptocurrency sector,with 30 regulated exchanges, blockchain startups, and several other cryptocurrency payment businesses. Furthermore, a 100 other companies have approached Japan’s Financial Service Authority (FSA) for a certificate, as reported by Reuters.

Under-staffing A Major Concern

Quoine’s C.E.O, Mike Kayamori, added his own statements that give conformity to those of COincheck’s.

“The FSA is breathing down necks on security, compliance and risk. And if you don’t hire, you won’t be able to survive.”, said Kayamori.
HR firms are not having it easy as well. Pascal Hideki, of Descartes Search, said HR firms and placement agencies “cannot keep up with demand for crypto talent”. The company is part of Japan Blockchain Association, and specializes in tech recruitment. Surprisingly, 60% of the firm’s recent head-hunts have been for crypto-related businesses.

Salaries in the sector are above average as well, as per Reuters. To entice engineerings, companies are offering fat bonuses, increased base pays, and more money in case the candidate is experienced.
Such a phenomenon in business is called the $/knowledge ratio, which calculates cash pool of available income to the number of skilled employees.
Skilled Labour Shortage A Worldwide Concern

Based on a deeper research in the matter, BTCManager found out a study by TopTal, which stated that “January 2017, the demand for blockchain engineering talent on Toptal has grown 700 percent, and 40 percent of the fully managed software development projects requested in the last month require blockchain skills.”

This clearly shows the demand in blockchain developers, and cryptocurrency conversant employees is not limited to Japan.

The topic has also been touched upon by Vitalik Buterin, founder of the Ethereum Foundation. “Core developers and researchers should be employed by multiple companies or organizations … [and] … the knowledge of the technical considerations behind protocol upgrades must be democratized, so that more people can feel comfortable participating in research discussions and criticizing protocol changes.”, said Buterin.

For Japan, however, culture also comes into play. Career moves are rare, and the majority of Japanese that do understand blockchain and cryptocurrency already work for companies as lifetime employment, and have never considered the thought of changing jobs.

Alexander Jenner of Computer Futures worries such a scenario “could put the brakes on everything. The sector’s growing so quickly, and the better exchanges are surviving. But many of them will fail,” blunting the country’s early competitive edge.

MORE INTERESTED SECTORS BUT LESS AVAILABLE SKILLS
In addition, because of the versatility of blockchain technology, other businesses in Hong Kong, such as banks and insurance companies, are looking at hiring experts to integrate this type technology into their business.

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