- Complexity and broad-based nature of the cryptocurrency industry makes it challenging to find talent and experience in the space
- Wall Street muscling into the cryptocurrency space has made it even harder to find suitable talent for cryptocurrency firms, especially startups
Bitcoin prices may be slipping because of China’s crackdown on the lucrative mining industry, but that hasn’t dampened demand for talent, as cryptocurrency firms struggle to find suitable candidates to fuel their breakneck growth.
Given that cryptocurrencies exist at the nexus between software, politics and economics, finding the right candidates who can fill the needs of the burgeoning industry has been challenging.
Despite the decline in cryptocurrency prices since May, total market value for the sector is up over 400% in the past year and traditional financial firms including Goldman Sachs (+0.01%), Citigroup (+0.32%), and Bank of New York Mellon (+1.47%) are muscling in, hoovering up talent along the way.
But that’s leaving cryptocurrency firms, particularly startups, short of the talent they need to scale.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, is advertising for some 370 roles globally according to its LinkedIn recruitment portal, while New York-based Gemini plans to almost double its Singapore headcount to 50 from 30.
Part of the problem is that finding candidates with the relevant experience in this sector is difficult and even candidates with just one or two years under their belt enjoy a significant advantage over those who struggle to even understand what a blockchain is.
This past week, Citigroup was the latest to throw its hat into the cryptocurrency ring, and announced that it will be helping its richest clients take bets on the nascent asset class, as part of a new digital assets group, following similar efforts from rivals Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (+1.52%).
Candidates with expertise and experience in banking and fintech are well sought after by the cryptocurrency industry, given that their skills are perceived to be more relevant and readily transferrable.
And many former forex traders have poured into cryptocurrency trading, thanks in large part because of the greater volatility and potential returns as the asset class evolves.
But not everyone is chomping at the bit for a job in cryptocurrencies.
What you see today is that banks, which had previously discouraged or even prohibited employees (remember Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase threatening to fire employees who traded in cryptocurrencies?) from getting involved with digital assets, now fostering a more conducive environment for experimentation.
For many bank employees, taking the leap full-on into cryptocurrencies may be a little daunting, and exploring cryptocurrency opportunities within their own banks could provide a safer environment to experiment in.
According to some bank employees, especially those with backgrounds in software programming, looking at cryptocurrencies within the banking environment at least allows them to hedge against the digital asset industry, infamous for its large volatility.
And that’s made things even tougher for cryptocurrency startups, especially those which relied on tokens as part of their compensation packages.
For young and talented bankers, many are faced with the inevitable dilemma, “Should I give up the benefits and security of a job at the bank for an untested and unproven asset, or should I have it as a side project while still keeping my day job?”