During Bitcoin Amsterdam, CryptoSlate caught up with Coinmetro exchange‘s CEO Kevin Murcko to discuss various topics, including the macro outlook, dollar strength, and incoming regulation.
However, of particular interest was Murcko’s industry insights on the unusual employment dynamics between TradFi and crypto that few could have predicted years before.
TradFi already big on crypto
Most are familiar with the concept of legacy workers moving to crypto in search of better opportunities. However, what’s unusual is that the trend is now turning full circle, according to Murcko.
Setting the scene, the Coinmetro CEO described a typical career path starting at a smaller legacy company and working up to the corporate level. But once there, “it becomes sh*t, and you become a cog in a wheel,” triggering many to want to leave in search of better job satisfaction.
Laying out the fundamental difference between TradFi and crypto, Murcko said he initially felt like an outsider when he attended his first crypto meet-up in 2011. But, despite outward appearances, listening to the discussions, he knew he had found like-minded people.
“The first meet-up I went to was in 2011, and it was in Mexico City. It was a bunch of tattooed guys, like face tattoos, man buns, whatever, and me. And I showed up in a blazer. I remember listening to the conversations, even at that time, I thought this is amazing.”
Contrast this with TradFi; you won’t find meet-ups where people talk about stocks, at least not back then, added Murcko – implying a lack of passion and belief in this area.
Murcko found this situation all the more surprising given that Mexico City is not known as a financial literacy center. Yet, hundreds were gathered at this meet-up intending to push the crypto agenda forward at the grassroots level.
Some 10 years later, cryptocurrency has become less of a shadowy affair and, thus, more accepted as a legitimate industry. The knock-on effect has seen TradFi workers no longer scared to make the switch to crypto for fear of ruining their careers and not being allowed back.
But far from being ostracized, the Coinmetro CEO said because TradFi firms are quietly entering the crypto space, they need staff with industry experience in both sectors, and workers who switched are being welcomed back to legacy firms.
“One, I don’t think they care if they ruin their career, and two, they are being accepted back because these companies, whether they say it publically or not, have been working in R&D and trying to somehow get involved in crypto.”
The jobs market is wide open
For workers who started in TradFi and then switched to crypto, the combination of sector experience means salaries “are going to explode,” said Murcko.
“Now, we’re paying fives times as much for a programmer than we did five, six years ago; people who come into crypto and go back to traditional finance, salaries are going to explode.”
He likened the circumstances to multi-lingual workers’ advantage in the jobs market, saying even if a proficient linguist is not as qualified to do a particular role, they still stand out “because they need you.”
“It’s almost like speaking another language. If you’re the guy who speaks Spanish, Chinese, and Indonesian, you’re going to get the job even if you don’t have the experience because they need you.”
The upshot to understanding cryptocurrency markets is that TradFi returnees command three to four times the salary for doing a similar role they left years prior, said Murcko.
The dark side is inevitable
Circling back to TradFi firms entering the crypto space on the quiet, Murcko said he visited the offices of Dutch financial services group ING in 2018 and noted an entire floor dedicated to cryptocurrency R&D.
Everyone on that floor was involved with digital assets in some way, whether that was building a protocol or “some sort of programmable money on top of Bitcoin,” even though ING was publically negative towards cryptocurrency at the time.
“I was in ING’s offices here in the Netherlands in 2018, and they had an entire floor. So they had the trading floor, one of the biggest trading floors in Europe, and they had their Innovation Hub, but it was all crypto.”
Given that banks often move in lockstep, Murcko presumes the same thing is happening across all of the big banks, even if they espouse an anti-crypto stance publically.
However, the Coinmetro CEO pointed out that banks are not necessarily doing this to advance the technology or for altruistic reasons; rather, they fear being left behind should cryptocurrencies take off.
“If there is an option that becomes a legitimate option and they have no control, meaning that they are not making money off of those money movements, they can’t capitalize on that really in any way, shape or form… they lose”
Considering the resource differences between the legacy and crypto sectors, Murcko resigned a degree of inevitability to a takeover playing out, saying, “traditional finance is going to take what they like and eat it. The question is, what’s left over and whether or not we still have a choice?”