Calling the crypto industry a roller coaster would be an understatement. From unbelievable highs to incredible lows, it takes a strong stomach and thick skin to stay in the game.
For Omer Amsel, head of Web3 products at Fireblocks, that rollercoaster is what drives the space forward.
“You have your bull markets, and then your bear markets, and then your bull markets,” Amsel told Decrypt at ETH Denver. “And each time, in each phase, there’s this main driver for what would be. Last time it was DeFi and NFTs, before that it was ICOs, you see all these innovations.”
Amsel pointed to the crash of 2018 and the resulting bear market that led to DeFi summer and the NFT boom as just the latest example of bear-market building.
“Crypto has this way of pushing the envelope, and then something happens,” he said. “So then it goes back to the drawing table and thinks about what is the next thing. I think that’s the beauty of this industry.”
Amsel said the rapid iteration of innovation, even during bear markets, has allowed the industry to quickly close the gap with traditional finance.
Selling the 'picks and shovels' of innovation
Launched in 2018, Fireblocks provides back-end crypto services for banks and investors.
“Our goal is to supply the picks and shovels for companies to innovate, to scale, and all the while doing that securely,” Amsel said. “If we stay in that mindset, the use cases will come, and we will be able to facilitate them.
"If there’s a bear market now, there will be a bull market later,” he continued. “We believe in the long-term vision of crypto.”
Last January, Fireblocks raised $550 million in a series E funding round, bringing its valuation to $8 billion. In October, BNY Mellon launched Bitcoin and Ethereum custody services using software developed in collaboration with Fireblocks. That same month, Fireblocks announced the launch of a new venture, the Payments Engine, with payment service Worldpay collaborating on development.
Regardless of the current regulatory environment in the United States, Amsel says Fireblocks is focused on technology.
“We’re not a qualified custodian,” Amsel said. “We just provide the technology for companies to do what it is that they want to do, maybe in the financial space or the non-financial space.”
But even while Fireblocks toils away in tech, he said the company also wants to help educate U.S. officials about blockchain technology and give an international perspective to policymakers.
“We’re an international company,” Amsel said. “We have a presence in Europe, the Americas, and APAC (Asia-Pacific), so we have come to the international view. We’re always facilitating pushing the envelope further, obviously adhering to the regulatory frameworks, wherever they may be.”