Business operations for digital assets in the ‘new normal’

By BC Group COO Phillip Pon

As future uncertainty around the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on businesses continues to dominate headlines, companies the world over are faced with a complicated challenge – how to maintain operational continuity in the emerging new working reality?

Economists and pundits have been discussing what a potential global recovery might look like, and while we cannot say for certain what the new economic landscape will be, we know that the status quo has changed drastically. Working digitally has become an integral part of professional life. 

Technology has played an undeniable role in both disseminating information during COVID-19, and in encouraging individuals and companies to find new ways to work and trade. According to recent research from Intel, telework, online B2B communication and digital social interactions have dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic [1]

On the day the Italian government issued its first shelter-in-place orders, data traffic on Milan’s Internet Exchange jumped 40%. Server giant Cisco reported that it saw 2,000% increase in Webex traffic from China since the start of the outbreak [2]

The digital asset space, which is intrinsically online, has benefited from this increase in Internet use as well as recent market volatility. As of today, Bitcoin is up more than 30% since the start of the year, and has rallied as many traditional assets lagged.

According to a survey released this week by Fidelity Investments, 36% of large institutional investors across the US and Europe now own digital assets such as Bitcoin, with 27% of pension funds, family offices, investment advisors and hedge funds indicating they hold digital assets in their portfolios [3].

BC Group’s OSL digital asset platform also experienced its largest-ever average trading volumes and highest number of active customers in the three months ended 31 May 2019. 

This increase in activity from clients and institutions, while beneficial to our business and the sector as a whole, also coincided with questions around maintaining business continuity as a result of the ongoing threat of COVID-19 infections. At BC Group and OSL, we continue to maintain flexible working arrangements, while keeping steady watch on current market conditions, government advice and following scenario-based business continuity planning and risk management procedures to ensure staff safety and maintain profitable operations. 

We are optimistic that Hong Kong is on the right path to recovery from COVID-19, and remain confident that recent surges in business digitization will lead to accelerated adoption of digital assets by mainstream finance. 

As a result, we look to the lessons learned at the outset of the pandemic, with the understanding that whatever the future holds, we are now living in a ‘new normal.’ Digital asset businesses may have the advantage of being born on the Internet, but they will not be immune from the impact of COVID-19. 

While there are many uncertainties ahead, this much is known: To continue to be successful, we must rapidly adapt to a transforming working world, and provide flexible and digital working tools so we can retain and nurture the best talent, while also maintaining a high standard of service for our customers and counterparties.

[1]: Source: The Data Economy – Quarantine Requires Digital Transformation
[2]: Ibid
[3]: Source: Bloomberg: Fidelity Says a Third of Institutions Own Digital Assets

OSL is Asia’s most comprehensive digital asset platform providing brokerage, exchange, software-as-a-service and insured custody solutions to professional investors.

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