Almost 3 years ago, I travelled to Beijing and met with Catherine Li, Dr King and their team. THEKEY was one of the Biggest ICOs of 2017. They were promising to solve the identity verification problem in China’s health care industry. Their solution used blockchain technology for the non-repudiation of health insurance claims. With a population 1.5 Billion and universal health care freshly implemented during 2009 reforms, there was a clear requirement in the industry for secure health care insurance.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to ask Dr Yidong King (CEO of THEKEY), several questions. These are the questions that I have been burning to ask the project.
This is part 1 of my two part interview and AMA with THEKEY CEO Dr King. You can continue on to THEKEY AMA, and there will be a link at the bottom of the page.
It’s been three years since we had the last conversation face to face. I hope you are doing well and your close ones are all healthy and safe during this time. First off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for voluntarily and kindly arranging this interview for the community, and your consistent attention and support are highly appreciated as always.
I still recall that day when you paid a visit back in 2018 to THEKEY’s office in Beijing along with five other community managers. During that trip, we got to feast on traditional and authentic Chinese food together at Quanjude, a restaurant known for its Peking roast duck. Of course, no trip to Beijing would be complete without a Great Wall tour. Each and every brick that built the one of the most impressive architectural feats in history have witnessed our firm and long-standing friendship. Later, you also joined us to a business trip to Jiaxing, Zhejiang province where we were carrying out a pilot project, to meet officials from Jiaxing Social Security Bureau.
Looking back, the connection between you and THEKEY team has never been closer and more exhilarating, and you have become a good and loyal friend not only to the team but to all of the communities of THEKEY. You were there for us all on those good and golden days and still stand by our side during dark times too. It is the absolute and complete trust that supporters like you place in THEKEY team that drives us on and encourages us to work day and night to increase the value of the project. And we are honored to be innovators, explorers and pioneers in the digital age, and our passion for pursuing the ultimate aim will never dim even if many of the blockchain projects from the playground vanish without trace.
The world has been in pandemic mode for months now and intermittent lockdowns are the new normal. The economic slowdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have led to workforce cuts, business operations changes, and more in almost every industry around the world. My deepest sympathies go to those community members and investors who suffered from illness, losing their loved ones and struggling against financial losses. And my heart breaks out for each one of them during this exceedingly difficult time. I hereby would like to thank THEKEY communities and investors for their incredible supports along this arduous journey.
The team and I myself pray for you and for this devastated world every single day. May god bless all!
THEKEY, which you can always trust and rely on.
Prof. Dr. Yidong King
THEKEY of THEKEY
Good morning, Dr King.
It is great to speak to you again. First and foremost, I hope you and the team are all doing well. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way we work, I myself am still working from home, with two little ones under five keeping me on my toes. I was relieved to see your team has been able to return to the office recently.
Q. Can you share what it has been like managing a team through this period? What have you been focused on and how has your team has been able to remain productive during the challenges we have all faced?
A. COVID-19 crisis has brought unprecedented impacts on THEKEY team, but we are blessed with the fact that every employee of ours and their family members are safe and sound. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the team has been affected from all possible aspects.
- First, we were not able to go on any business trips abroad, to other cities in China, or even to anywhere outside home due to the universal travel restrictions;
- Second, change of domestic economic situation; and
- Third, deteriorated international political and economic situation.
All have seriously jeopardized our work plans. Forced by situation, we had no choice but to:
- Ceased cooperation with a well-known ASEAN digital bank.
- On Feb 3rd, 2020, we had no choice but to cancel a planned trip to the U.S. at the last minute for an academic symposium attended by Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and a renowned cryptocurrency network firm.
- With the stagnation of economic and travel activities in China for months, the productive deployment and marketing activities based on healthcare data as set in the Bluepaper were canceled.
I have to confess that the above-mentioned unexpected changes made all of the efforts the team have made to build the most influential public chain in the year of 2020 in vain, and also has inflicted tremendous losses from the aspect of time, human resources and finance.
And of course, managing a team during this time can be quite a challenge. But we never gave in. As we stated before, all of our employees have started working from home since the very beginning of the pandemic. And certain online apps enabled us to clock in and out, and even hold online meetings every week, which successfully kept the whole team as productive and exuberant as before. We sail upwind and still made extraordinary achievements during the worst period. More details will be disclosed in the following questions.
Almost three years ago, we were sitting in the boardroom in Beijing, discussing the ICO and plans you had for THEKEY and beyond. Back then, I left with three powerful impressions of yourself.
During one of our many technical conversations, you passionately and accurately predicted the peak of the Bitcoin run (almost to the day from memory). You were very aware of other projects active at the time and never backed down from our more technical crypto discussions.
Q. How do you view the cryptocurrency market at the moment. Do you believe the current slow and steady growth of Bitcoin is more sustainable this time round? Will we see new all-time highs again?
A． My assumption about Bitcoin never changed. As far as I’m concerned:
- Bitcoin is a special existent in the cryptocurrency world. Symbolized as digital gold, Bitcoin’s main function is to maintain and increase value and will continue to play its role. And I believe we will see new all-time highs of the Bitcoin price again.
- ICO and IMO or IXO and its sorts will never come back again.
- Currently the greatest challenge facing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry is regulation and compliance in DEFI environment.
As I predicted, when Libra was at its peak, it was not recognized or accepted by governments around the world due to regulatory and compliance issues. Regulation and compliance in DEFI environment is a bottleneck for both blockchain and cryptocurrency industry and is believed to be solved eventually. With this issue successfully solved, both security token and utility token, like TKY, will have a bright future ahead. Realizing DEFI regulation and compliance is exactly what we have been working on for the past one year.
You had a coherent plan for THEKEY and some fairly ambitious plans to grow beyond what has been announced.
Q. How do you feel the project has progressed to date and what has enabled or blocked this progress? What do you see as the biggest opportunities and threats to THEKEY from here?
A. Although the coronavirus outbreak has greatly jeopardized our work plans, the progress we made is still remarkably delighting. If we are to be honest, we did not know much about blockchain three years ago. We had no clue about what exact role BDMI was going to play in the development of cryptocurrency and/or blockchain technology. We only had a vague understanding for the new concept and new technology and estimated that BDMI technology and state-owned IDV data could be the hot spots for blockchain industry, and it turned out the estimation was correct.
Our work in the past three years has proven:
- The bottleneck of both cryptocurrency and blockchain industry is DEFI regulation and compliance;
- BDMI and government IDV data is the key to solve the above problem.
Ben, you were right. Our ICO launch back in 2018 is still one of the most successful ICOs that that happened across the globe. Even at that time, I warned THEKEY communities that blockchain technology is still in its infancy, and we are addressing challenges on all fronts. We are clearly recognizing a long and challenging path ahead in pursuit of the many business objectives we have set for ourselves and our company. Yes we are on the right track that is for sure, but on the other hand, we might be in trouble anytime, anywhere. We are still facing the six challenges, as I mentioned from day one, of policy, legislation, data, technology, market, fund-raising and product. Therefore, we must be alert to the possibility of danger all the time.
While I could never keep up with what was being said, I was able to witness both yourself and your team have deep and meaningful conversations with the officials present, both in the office and later during dinners. You are forging a new path by operating a blockchain project this tightly integrated with multiple Chinese Government Departments.
Q. How have you found health officials attitude to blockchain technology? Have you had any discussions with the Blockchain Committee or Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Department about the wider adoption of cryptocurrencies in China?
A. During our launch three years ago, we predicted three that blockchain technology would be fully approved and embraced by Chinese government and time now has proven we were right. Under Chairman Xi’s leadership, healthcare departments and officials express a positive desire about blockchain technology. You may have also noticed in October 2019, Chairman Xi Jinping emphasized that blockchain technology should be fully used for core independent innovation and urged for the acceleration of the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation, which not only stimulated an upsurge of interest in the blockchain industry, but dramatically promoted the acceleration of blockchain applications.
The application and circulation of cryptocurrencies will also be realized in China eventually as it can significantly lower the transaction cost and improve transaction efficiency. However, this can only be achieved with proper regulation and compliance in DEFI environment.
Worth mentioning, there’s no country like China that has been promoting digital economy with the core of blockchain technology. We asserted that major breakthroughs of blockchain technology will not be achieved without DEFI regulation and compliance. And I’m utterly honored to be able to witness and be a part of the epic and historic journey with my team. Of course, none of these would have be achieved without your long-time support and generous help, and I cannot be prouder and more honored for you all!
Over the past year we have mainly cooperated with Chinese government through the National Pilot Project of Key Applications in Fintech jointly appointed by six ministries, which does include Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
I’d like to thank Dr King for his time and responses to my questions.
Please continue on and read the Community AMA.
The author previously provided some assistance with the community engagement of this project for English speakers.
The author participated in the public pre-distribution phase and continues to hold a small amount of TKY.
No payments or favours were sought for this article.
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