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Can crypto go mainstream in the next 18 months?

As the FTX debacle invites more stringent regulations, Caroline Bowler of BTC Markets believes crypto can go mainstream in the next 18 months.

Welcome to Forkast Forecasts 2023. In this series, leaders, innovators and visionaries in blockchains share their industry predictions for the year ahead.

Caroline Bowler

Caroline Bowler is the chief executive officer of BTC Markets, a digital assets exchange based in Australia. Bowler is the former Asia-Pacific (APAC) director at Red Flag Consulting, and founder of Bowlah PR, a financial technology press agency with offices in Singapore and Melbourne. 

She has worked with a variety of financial institutions in APAC and Europe since 2004, including investment banks, hedge funds, and fintech. She branched out to the blockchain and digital assets industry in 2015.

Bowler is a board member of Blockchain Australia, an association representing digital currency exchanges. She was awarded Female FinTech Leader of the Year 2022 at the FinTech Australia industry awards.

Predictions for 2023

Mainstream adoption will increase in the next 18 months

“There was already a changing dynamic at play. When we looked at some of the data on our exchange, we saw particularly in the older age group, those who are over 65, that they were coming in much larger shapes, much larger investment sizes than even those in their 30s and 40s, which is kind of the expected investor pool… We’ll probably see a cooling in terms of new investors coming in over the first perhaps 3 to 6 months of 2023. But I do think we’ll see this becoming mainstream in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Stricter regulatory frameworks will arise from the FTX debacle

“The expectation would be that we’re going to see some quite stringent regulation come through. The concern from the industry point of view is that we don’t want to see regulators overshoot the mark. This is the advantage for those jurisdictions that already have regulations in place. I’m thinking here about Singapore. I’m thinking here about the European Union —they know what they’re dealing with. They know what’s to come. Certainly, the European approach of leaving room for innovation there, they’re not trying to regulate innovation out of their economy. That’s an approach that will probably serve many developed economies well, certainly as an industry. That’s the approach that we’re looking to approve here in Australia.”

Centralized exchanges will still have their place

“I’m very bullish on centralized exchanges, and not just because I’m the CEO of one. Instead, I look at human history and human behavior. There’s a reason why banks exist as opposed to keeping your money under your pillow. And that behavior, that kind of human desire to not have to focus or worry about self-custody, will still remain true in the shorter term anyway. So if you look at the next one to three, possibly five years down the line, it’s my view that DeFi (decentralized finanance) is fantastic and that’s definitely a model that we will see a percentage of people move towards.

“I’m very excited about the opportunities that exist in that space. However, not everybody wants to do self-custody. Not everybody wants to take that step themselves. They look to others to manage their finances. Indeed, that’s why we got financial advisors… So instead, it will be a question of consumer choice or investor choice.”