Eileen Li

Eileen Li, Operations Manager at HashKey Capital, and an Institute member, is responsible for the blockchain technology and digital assets venture capital fund’s financial-related matters, as well as monitoring the daily operations of the funds. She shares her views on the potential of decentralized finance

What are the biggest lessons in your career so far?

The importance of having a passion for your work and engaging in continuous learning. Working in the rapidly evolving FinTech and blockchain industry demands staying abreast of new technologies and trends. In 2017, initial coin offerings (ICOs) were the talk of the town, then in 2020 and 2021, people were crazy about decentralized finance (DeFi), Play-to-earn, and non-fungible tokens. Currently, “Zero-Knowledge proof,” which refers to a way of proving the validity of a statement without revealing the statement itself, is the new buzzword. Even though I work in the middle-back office, having a good understanding of new trends remains essential as I must be able to convey technical concepts in simple language to those unfamiliar with this industry.

What attracted you to the crypto industry?

In 2017, I was introduced to the world of cryptocurrency through a classmate at university. She had left audit and begun working as a finance manager in a crypto venture capital (VC) firm, and was also investing in crypto. She influenced me to buy my first Ethereum and I participated in my first ICO project. In 2021, the crypto market experienced a bull run, prompting me to join HashKey Capital. The year 2021 was also the year for DeFi, especially for the blockchain sector. This trend, which can potentially offer users financial freedom and privacy, was another thing that attracted me.

In what ways has your CPA qualification helped you in your career?

My CPA knowledge allows me to manage the fund’s financials effectively. I possess a basic understanding of the legal and regulatory framework that governs financial reporting and license applications. This is particularly critical in the crypto industry, which is subject to various legal and regulatory requirements. The qualification has also equipped me with the soft skills that are crucial in a finance and operations management role, where precision and analytical abilities are essential to success.

What was your reaction following the events last year, such as the collapse of FTX?

I think it was a reminder that the industry is still in its early stages of development and that there are many challenges and risks that need to be addressed. However, the incident is not the fault of blockchain or crypto itself. Rather, it is the result of bad actors taking advantage of the lack of transparency on centralized exchanges and intermediaries, as well as the poor design of the native token of the FTX ecosystem. It is an example of why we need DeFi. Decentralized protocols have transparent code and behave as programmed, making it difficult for any fraudulent activities to occur. All transactions and accounts are fully transparent on-chain, increasing trust and credibility.

What growing trends in the blockchain and virtual assets space are you most excited about?

We are particularly excited about the evolving regulatory frameworks for virtual assets, especially in Hong Kong, as the industry continues to grow and face unique challenges and risks. On 31 October 2022, the Hong Kong government issued a policy statement emphasizing its commitment to creating a facilitating environment for the sustainable and responsible development of virtual assets, including the establishment of a new licensing regime for virtual asset service providers and pilot projects to test blockchain and virtual asset technologies for the benefit of the financial markets.

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