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The presence of crypto among institutional investors is on the rise, especially after the approval of spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the US. Companies such as JPMorgan, UBS, and Wells Fargo declared Bitcoin ETF holdings in their recent 13F filings.

This rise in institutional interest can also be seen in the professional area. Executives with backgrounds in traditional finance (TradFi) are rotating to crypto as the market matures. Former Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Jonathan Chang, is one of these executives, now in the role of COO at layer-1 blockchain Nibiru.

He shared insights with Crypto Briefing on valuable TradFi skills that can be used in crypto, how grants are a powerful tool to attract more of the traditional market, and how those professionals can help solve crypto issues.

Crypto Briefing – What was your biggest challenge when pivoting from traditional finance to crypto? What set of skills learned from TradFi were most valuable when joining this new market?

Jonathan Chang – Crypto is known for its unique complexities. Traditional Finance (TradFi) offers a more relatable framework for understanding decentralized finance due to its familiar concepts. However, there is still a learning curve, particularly with the specialized terminology used in crypto.

For instance, while the principles of lending, including borrowers, underwriting, credit assessment, and lenders are well-established in TradFi, the application of these concepts in crypto—built on smart contract platforms and enhanced with tokenomics—introduces a new layer of complexity.

In fintech, the ledger is fundamental for recording bank transactions. This concept closely parallels the blockchain ledger used in crypto, which also records transactions but does so in a decentralized way.

I’ve noticed that fintech and crypto startups often share similar goals, particularly in speeding up payments and financial services. The main difference lies in the technology stacks each uses to achieve these goals.

Now that I’m more involved in crypto, my background in traditional finance is proving beneficial. My experience in equity research enhanced my analytical and writing skills, and deepened my understanding of how markets moved.

In investment banking, I refined my abilities in structuring transactions, managing teams, and general soft skills. Venture capital and growth equity offered opportunities to meet diverse founders, understand market mapping, and appreciate business differentiation. These skills were invaluable, aiding in process management, quality control, and leveraging a broad network in new environments.

Often, creative problem-solving is essential, and having a variety of experiences from high-pressure situations has become increasingly valuable. These reference points from my past work are helpful tools in navigating and innovating within crypto.

Crypto Briefing – Are grants a valuable way to attract talent to crypto? Do you think of grants as just a money incentive, or do you think of a proper introduction to the market and its technologies?

Jonathan Chang – Grants play a crucial role in drawing talent to the crypto and DeFi sectors, providing much more than just financial incentives. In a time when funding is limited and developers and entrepreneurs urgently need resources to bring their ideas to life, grants offer vital early support.

Equally important, however, is the comprehensive ecosystem support that a well-designed grant program provides. This includes access to mentorship, technical resources, and a network of like-minded innovators, fostering an environment ripe for learning, experimentation, and growth.

At Nibiru, our grant program is crafted to achieve these goals. We offer financial assistance and leverage our extensive network and expertise to enhance our grantees’ success. This support includes connecting them with VC partners, offering mentorship opportunities, and providing access to our advanced developer suite. Our objective is to give a complete introduction to the market and the tools needed to succeed.

The Nibiru ecosystem is dedicated to empowering developers, helping them become catalysts for positive Web3 transformation. Our grants initiative not only supports through partnerships and mentorship but also boosts the visibility of projects within our ecosystem with targeted marketing support.

Our grants are structured with Total Value Locked (TVL) milestones in mind, aiming to find partners committed to long-term growth within the chain. During our diligence process, the chemistry between the founder and our team is a key factor in ensuring aligned goals and collaborative potential.

Crypto Briefing – Despite being better, crypto UX is still a threshold to capture more users and talent. Do you believe that non-native crypto talent’s point of view is an important piece to solve this problem?

Jonathan Chang – Absolutely. A major challenge in the crypto industry today is the complexity of the user experience. Despite significant innovation, many blockchain applications remain too complex for the average user.

This is where non-native crypto talent becomes crucial. These individuals may not possess deep technical knowledge of blockchain but offer fresh perspectives and a strong focus on user-centric design.

They are key to bridging the gap between sophisticated technology and the seamless, user-friendly experiences that people expect. At Nibiru, we see this in action. Our team, drawn from a mix of backgrounds, including traditional finance, technology, and consumer industries, brings diverse viewpoints that are critical in developing relatable products.

They challenge us to simplify and humanize our offerings, urging us to prioritize the user journey over technical details. As a result, they help us create not just functional but genuinely enjoyable experiences. So, to directly answer your question—yes, I firmly believe that non-native crypto talent is essential in addressing the UX challenges in crypto.

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