DEC 22, 2023
Interview with OKX Wallet's Head: How to Seize the Opportunity in Inscriptions and Discuss the Future of the Bitcoin Ecosystem
by 吴说猫弟, WuBlockchain
In the latest craze of inscriptions, OKX Wallet is undoubtedly one of the earliest and most profitable movers. The two heads of OKX Wallet detailed in a podcast the reasons for their early success, their personal experiences, and their perspectives on the future development of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Kyle's Twitter: https://twitter.com/szchen429
Jason's Twitter: https://twitter.com/jasonwangbtc
How did the two of you join the crypto industry?
Kyle: I currently serve as the main person in charge of the Web3 Marketplace and Discover, two products at OKX. My journey in cryptocurrencies began in college, about eight years ago. During this time, I actively participated in investments and research in areas like DeFi and NFTs and experienced the shifts of two bull and bear markets, making me a devoted believer in Crypto. I started mining in college, using computer graphics cards to mine digital currencies like ETH and participated in deep trading at some of the major domestic exchanges. In July 2020, I joined the OKX team, initially responsible for the exchange's data and growth products. By 2021, with the company's strategic adjustment, I shifted my focus to Web3 products. Recently, my work has been centered on the NFT market, including the recent popular Ordinals NFT and BRC20 services.
Jason Wang: I am currently the head of the OKX Bitcoin wallet. I joined at the beginning of 2021, which was when the OKX Web3 division was established. Before joining OKX, I worked as a product manager at several traditional internet companies. My journey into cryptocurrencies began in mid-2017 when I started paying attention to the crypto market and invested in some Bitcoin. Despite experiencing some ups and downs, I have maintained a strong interest in the development and potential of this industry. Particularly, the Bitcoin hard fork on August 1, 2017, left a deep impression on me. I was surprised to find that holding Bitcoin also entitled me to BCH, and this "forking" of assets made me realize the enormous potential in this field. As a result, I started to delve deeper into research and exploration. In 2018, a classmate and I developed a BCH wallet called Coco Wallet for Mr. Han, although popular areas like DeFi had not yet emerged, our project still accumulated valuable experience. By the DeFi boom in 2020, I became even more convinced of the vast development space in this industry. Therefore, in March 2021, I decided to join OKX, responsible for the development and iteration of the wallet business. Recently, I've been primarily responsible for projects and businesses related to Bitcoin.
Is the OKX Wallet team really over 500 people?
Jason Wang: Regarding the size of the OKX Wallet team, we haven't quantified it exactly internally. While there have indeed been rumors that our team is 500 strong, this number has not been officially confirmed. Indeed, our team has grown to several hundred people, but whether it specifically reaches 500, we can't give a precise answer. We have been expanding the team as needed to meet the needs of business development.
Kyle: Indeed, if you include departments like the mid-platform, marketing, business development, customer service, etc., the team size might be larger. But to define the exact size of our Web3 team, it's necessary to consider the support of different departments in the company for our business. Our Web3 team was established at the beginning of 2021, starting from scratch, and has now developed over several years, covering multiple directions including multi-chain wallets, DEX, NFT, DApps wallet browser, etc.
How did OKX Wallet successfully seize the initiative?
Jason Wang: Our ability to seize the market initiative is not just due to the efforts of the past year but is based on our continuous development and infrastructure building over the past few years. Although our Web3 wallet has only been established for just over two years, our technical architecture was actually deployed five years ago. Considering the needs of our exchange business, we began building and accumulating relevant experience early on. Over the past five years, we have not only continued to build on the technical level but have also summarized a set of efficient methods in user interaction. These achievements are the accumulation of many years of effort, not just something that can be achieved in the short term.
Kyle: As Jason mentioned, our technical infrastructure has been a long time in the making. On the other hand, especially at the application layer, I want to emphasize that the OKX Web3 team is a vibrant young team. We are able to quickly capture market hotspots, largely due to having a large number of OG users in the team. They are both our product users and product managers and developers. For example, with the Ordinals project, we were one of the earliest teams to notice and support it. Although there was hesitation and discussion about whether to fully support the new Bitcoin protocol, causing a slight delay in market launch, we successfully launched the Ordinals market in May. This achievement stems from our long-term technical accumulation and good product experience, as well as the exclusive advantages of our mobile app, which together constitute the main reasons for our seizing the market initiative.
What were the points of hesitation initially? Does it have anything to do with cyclicality?
Kyle: Regarding the initial hesitation in supporting new technologies, we don't believe it's a matter of cyclicality. As a technology-driven company, we've always been supportive of technological innovations. The early discussions were mainly due to the fact that the inscription technology on Bitcoin was relatively less developed compared to DeFi and other technologies on Ethereum, and we were initially uncertain about the potential of this ecosystem. However, with the market's enthusiastic response and users' high level of interest in this technology, we recognized its potential and decided to increase our investment, start developing parsing tools, and on-chain indexing infrastructure. Ultimately, we decided to establish our own market to support Ordinals transactions.
Jason Wang: In reality, no one can accurately predict the direction of market development. Therefore, both we and other teams will inevitably have some hesitation and concerns initially, which are unavoidable phenomena in the early stages of development.
What is your view on the future development of the inscription track?
Jason Wang: From the perspective of the trading market and the entire wallet ecosystem, we currently hold 80% to 90% of the market share. We have received many requests for cooperation from external partners who wish to work with us to advance the entire industry's development. In terms of collaboration, we are fully committed to pushing the entire industry forward. As for your question about competitors like Binance and others, I believe these actions have a positive impact on propelling the entire industry forward. Although there is some competition, I believe that introducing more users to the Bitcoin ecosystem, especially the Ordinals ecosystem, and allowing more people to experience this field, especially the DeFi plays based on Bitcoin and a broader realm of imagination, is an effort and construction for the entire industry. So, it's not purely competition, but rather a joint effort to push the industry forward.
What are the future development plans for the integration of the Bitcoin ecosystem with wallets?
Jason Wang: Regarding the future development plans for the integration of the Bitcoin ecosystem with wallets, we are closely monitoring the entire Bitcoin ecosystem's development. As I mentioned on Twitter, our focus is not limited to asset issuance protocols, although such protocols like ARC, BRC, CRC, etc., are already very diverse and widespread. Our goal is not only to participate in these projects as a participant but also to look for product directions with long-term value and sustainability.
From the perspective of speculators, they might quickly join and exit a project, which doesn't significantly impact them personally. However, for us, we hope the projects we invest in can continue to develop, rather than disappearing overnight. Therefore, we are exploring various potential tracks in the Bitcoin ecosystem, including directions like second-layer networks, in addition to asset issuance protocols. For instance, networks like Stacks and Liquid are currently developing well, and even some new projects launched in October show great potential. We aim to maintain a long-term focus on these tracks because they are crucial for the continuous maintenance and development of our products.
Additionally, we are also paying attention to the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network has been developing for many years and is a sustainable track, which is very beneficial for our in-depth development. Recently, the Lightning Network has also introduced new capabilities like taproot assets, and many project teams have already started deploying and operating their related businesses. These developments bring positive momentum to the entire Bitcoin ecosystem. We will continue to monitor these areas to ensure our products and services provide the best experience for users.
How do you view the controversy over the inscription ecosystem by developers like Luke?
Kyle: Regarding the controversy over the inscription ecosystem, first and foremost, the inscription ecosystem and various Bitcoin protocols are subjects that our team actively researches and pays attention to. We often hold internal sharing and discussion sessions to learn and discuss which technologies or protocols we should support. As for the current controversy, as a foundational infrastructure and tool, the OKX Web3 wallet's stance is not to favor any specific protocol or developer. Although we have gained significant traffic and benefits from Ordinals, if this ecosystem is impacted by technical issues, it would be a significant loss for our users and the entire market. Therefore, our goal is to continuously provide quality tools and wallet functions while also paying attention to protocols unaffected by the current controversy, like the Lightning Network and SRC.
Jason Wang: In fact, we don't completely rely on traditional KPI systems. Modern internet companies, including us, prefer to use OKR (Objectives and Key Results) to set and manage goals. OKRs typically don't set specific numerical indicators but rather set macro and abstract goals for the team to achieve. Even if the goals are not fully achieved, the effort made during the process is still commendable. For an internet company, user scale is the most core indicator. Other aspects, like trading volume, are important, but attracting more users to participate in our ecosystem, use our products and services, and promote them through word-of-mouth is what's more important. That's our current primary goal.
How are KPIs set? Market share? Revenue?
Jason Wang: The KPI assessment indicator should be an outdated method. Actually, some of the better internet companies, including ours, are now using OKRs to manage our goals. OKRs don't set specific numerical targets but instead define an abstract or macro goal as a result, and then we break down the things we want to do. Even if we don't reach the goal, it doesn't really matter because we have made an effort in the process. So for us right now, for an internet company, user volume is definitely the most core indicator. Other aspects, such as trading, are secondary. We hope to have more users participate in our ecosystem or products, use our products and services, and then gain more and better user word-of-mouth. That's roughly our goal.
How do you view and challenge the monopolistic position of wallets like MetaMask?
Kyle: Regarding challenging the monopolistic position of wallets like MetaMask, our core focus is on user volume, and profit is currently not the main indicator for our team. We believe that the Web3 wallet will definitely be the key entry point for crypto users into Web3 and is also one of the directions the company has heavily invested in recent years. Our goal is not just to compete with competitors like MetaMask but based on a long-term vision and belief in Web3.
Early wallets like MetaMask and TrustWallet indeed occupy most of the market's users, and the migration cost of these users is a challenge for the early growth of the OKX Web3 wallet. However, with the rise of the chain ecosystem, especially the Bitcoin ecosystem, we see tremendous opportunities. For example, MetaMask does not support Bitcoin wallets, while we have a significant leading advantage in this area and have already attracted a large number of users.
Additionally, integrating the exchange and wallet into the same mobile app is one of our exclusive innovations. This integration greatly facilitates traditional speculative users to easily enter the world of Web3. At the same time, we have also launched MPC wallets, AA wallets, and other functions, committed to providing new users with a more convenient experience, simplifying the understanding of private keys, mnemonic phrases, and reducing the complexity of on-chain interactions.
Our goal is to create a unique path and strive to overtake in this field. Although as an exchange, we don't plan to attract users through issuing tokens or airdrops, we pay more attention to user needs and product experience. As more and more public chains emerge, users need to install numerous plug-ins to use different Dapps. Our goal is that by installing the OKX wallet, users will be able to access all Dapps. Our multi-chain strategy has always been at the core of the wallet, currently supporting over 80 public chains, which should be the most among all wallets. We simultaneously support Bitcoin, Solana, Aptos, and all EVM-compatible chains, which is one of our major advantages. Our BD team is also working hard to ensure that more and more top Dapps directly support our wallet, and in the future, users will see more top protocols directly using our services.
How can one participate in this Bitcoin ecosystem? Which area are you more optimistic about?
Kyle: When discussing participation and prospects in the Bitcoin ecosystem, I personally hold an optimistic view of Bitcoin's future market. Next year will see several positive factors, including the end of the U.S. interest rate hike cycle, the approval of spot ETFs, and Bitcoin halving. As for the long-term presence of the Bitcoin ecosystem, while it's controversial, especially among Bitcoin purists, looking back at all the hotspots and innovations this year, the Ordinals protocol is undoubtedly one of the greatest innovations. From its launch in March, the first outbreak in May, several months of quiet in the middle, to becoming hot again in November, it has shown the resilience of the ecosystem and the strong consensus of the community. Opportunities always come to those who are prepared. If you start learning these inscription tools and on-chain operations early, you can seize a significant opportunity.
On the other hand, for the Bitcoin miner community, as halving approaches and future output decreases, the proportion of transaction fees in miners' income will gradually increase. This is good news for traditional miners, and I believe this direction has long-term development potential. However, for short-term trading, liquidity-poor trading modes like inscriptions and BRC20 still pose certain risks, especially in times of high market volatility, and need to be approached with caution.
Jason Wang: From a market analysis perspective, I am very optimistic about the development prospects of the Lightning Network. As an infrastructure, the Lightning Network has developed for many years in offline payments. The recently introduced taproot assets aim to solve the volatility issues of Bitcoin payments, which will help stablecoin issuers join their network and promote stablecoin payments based on the Lightning Network. This will solve many offline payment pain points for countries with unstable financial systems, such as those in South America and Africa. If this stablecoin solution is implemented, it will greatly promote the application of Bitcoin as a means of payment. However, from a personal investment perspective, I think everyone should make cautious market analyses. Investing always comes with risks, and we cannot recommend specific investment projects. Decisions should be based on market conditions, future development trends, and macro and micro analyses.