Interview with Jay Hao | Founder of OKEx

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on March 22, 2023

Jay Hao | Founder of OKEx


Success leaves clues.

Finance Strategists sat down with Jay Hao, CEO of one of the world’s leading crypto-asset exchanges, OKEx. He shared some of his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, and offered his perspective on his inspirations and goals and how they shaped his drive to innovate.

Who is Jay Hao?

Q: Who are you and what’s your background?

I’m Jay Hao. I joined OKEx as CEO early in its incorporation, and it’s been my role for almost two years now. My career so far has been closely related to technology and engineering.

Prior to OKEx, I had been following the blockchain industry for a long time, and I was especially focused on blockchain-driven applications for live video streaming and mobile gaming.

Before tapping into the blockchain industry, I had already garnered 21 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, developing a wide range of UVLED, ASIC, FPGA, multimedia codec, as well as complex system-on-chip (SOC) design for multimedia processors and wireless communication systems.

Through in-depth technology industry and technology enterprises, I’ve accumulated extensive experience in both products and management.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?

I would say the biggest influence in my life has always been my father. Coming from his time of such struggle and hardship yet working so hard his entire life in order to bring our family to the U.S. as immigrants, I have always had a profound respect for him and learned my work ethic and attitude to life from him.

It was a really tough time when I first arrived in the U.S. as a child. At that time, I had no friends. I was suffering from culture shock. I couldn’t get used to the local food. I didn’t even speak English. It was my father's words and example that helped me get through that difficult time and blend in with the local environment. I benefited so much from his way of looking at work and his spirit of lifelong learning, especially now that I have joined an industry that changes with each passing day.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?

I would have told the young me to be daring. Things cannot go wrong when you are willing to try. Technology is something I have always believed in and that we can never reverse. For example, when we embrace 5G, it’s hard for us to go back to the 56k slow bandwidth of before. Never be afraid of being an innovator and to try things out, take the lead and you’ll move onto the next level.

What is OKEx?

Q: What is OKEx?

Headquartered in Malta, OKEx now has become one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency spot and derivatives exchanges in terms of trading volume, serving countries, and user base, serving 20 million global users from over 100 countries. We offer a wide selection of trading pairs and the most complete product suite in the industry, ranging from spot trading, and margin trading, to crypto derivatives such as futures, perpetual swaps, and options, helping traders, miners, and institutional investors optimize their investment strategies.

As a true trailblazer in the blockchain arena, we have also innovated in other areas of the blockchain industry, including mining pools, public chains, Cloud services, consumer lending, and more. We take making changes with blockchain as our promise and responsibility and are committed to promoting the massive adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

Q: What makes OKEx different from other cryptocurrency exchanges?

I think that would be products. Compared to other crypto spot or derivatives exchanges, OKEx offers a one-stop service to our retail, professional, and institutional traders. Based on continuous innovation of products, including options, futures, etc., traders can execute different trading strategies on OKEx to hedge trading risks and maximize their trading returns.

These rich trading tools allow OKEx to accumulate a large user base and data, which helps us better understand the needs of different users, launch new products and optimize existing products. The development of OKEx has entered a virtuous circle.

And of course, our liquidity, needless to say, we are one of the top exchanges. Good liquidity protects our users from extreme markets. You can simply look at the spread and depth of our order book. Our tick sizes are very minimum, i.e. 0.1 for our spot and perpetual swap markets, and 0.01 for futures markets, and you can still find a thick depth available.

Not to mention our risk management system. You see, we have been offering futures since the launching of OKEx. And you know the crypto market has been wild these 2 years. We keep learning from this unpredictable market, perfecting the risk management system to deliver a reliable trading platform for our users.

Q: What led you to start OKEx?

I joined OKEx in the early days. Since graduating from college, I’ve worked in the technology field for more than 20 years. That means that I was exposed to bitcoin very early and had a strong interest in it. In the following years, I witnessed its amazing development. For example, this past May 22 is known throughout the community as “bitcoin pizza day”. On that day in 2010, a computer programmer called Laszlo Hanyecz was willing to exchange 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas. Today, the price of one bitcoin is close to $ 10,000, making it the most expensive pizza in the world! For me, this trend was foreseeable and I believe that blockchain will become an unstoppable force, it has already touched me and my life very deeply.

At the time I joined OKEx, the space was full of hype, rumors, and the myth that you could easily make a fortune overnight. After joining OKEx, my goal has been to provide users with the best trading experience and the richest trading products. I see security, innovation, and reliability as the three pillars of OKEx, and they are fundamental to building a robust and liquid trading platform.

Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?

I have learned a lot during my time of building the business of OKEx and the first must be the importance of the product. We always put the interests of our users first, which forces us to think about how to enrich and improve our products all the time. For example, are professional traders satisfied with only spot transactions? Do institutional traders need better tools for hedging? Based on these considerations for user needs, we launched margin trading, futures, swaps, and options successively. Besides being CEO, I have another position in OKEx: Chief Customer Service Officer. It’s very important to me to be on the front lines with our customers to really understand their needs and pain points.

The second one reflects my belief in the importance of lifelong learning. As I mentioned above, blockchain is a fast-changing industry. You can never think that you know enough. For example, a few days ago I just learned a new term, called Patoshi patterns. I believe most people, even very senior crypto practitioners, may not have heard of it before either. That’s what I mean by “fast-changing,” If one cannot learn new knowledge every day, he or she will soon be left behind in this industry.

Finally, it's about diligence. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the basis of the above two. I can't imagine how a lazy or unmotivated person can keep learning every day and keep thinking about how to optimize his or her products. It may seem simple, but it really is essential to success.

Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?

With the continuous improvement of infrastructure, I believe that the time has come for blockchain to transform the existing financial system, and we will see significant results in the next five years.

On the one hand, blockchain can cover the gap of traditional finance, the unbanked. On the other hand, the gap between blockchain and traditional finance is gradually closing. For example, products like staking and savings bring users passive income at an extremely attractive rate while the global interests keep going down. Besides that, I think we will see more and more professionals from traditional finance joining the blockchain space.

In short, in the next five years, we will continue to move towards our goal: #financeAll.

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About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.