Introducing our new interview series, 5 Minutes With, where we sit down with the Tech industry’s leaders to discuss the evolving world of tech and share their insights for the future. To kick off, Dan Sullivan, Team Leader, sat down with Aaron Hammond, CTO of leading European cryptocurrency exchange, BitPanda Pro. Aaron shares more about his role as CTO and his insights into the volatile, exciting cryptocurrency space.
Can you share a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m currently the CTO at Bitpanda pro, I’m in charge of the technical teams on the exchange side of the business. I’ve worked at a lot of growth phase startups early in my career and then switched to running a consultancy focused on helping large scale cloud based platforms in the latter years prior to joining Bitpanda pro.
Tell us more about Bitpanda Pro
Bitpanda pro is a cryptocurrency exchange licensed in Europe. We offer sophisticated trading solutions suitable to both retail and institutional customers. Primarily, we deal with complex types of trading like automated algorithmic trading via API’s and trading that is considerably price sensitive.
What challenges have you faced while building and scaling the platform and how have you overcome them?
When I first joined Bitpanda Pro, I joined an existing team that had been working together for a long time, they were arranged by competency, with a front end and a backend team that covered the whole domain problem. My main objective was to scale the team to tackle an increase in the number of work streams that we were looking to add.
In order to not overload the team cognitively, we went about breaking the system down into its domain boundaries and then slowly building out those teams to capacity. Although this is a people problem first, it was intended with the idea was that Conway’s law would take over and we would end up with a well architected platform that could serve the needs of the business as it scaled.
The main drawback to this was shifting everyone out of their comfort zone into a new way of working, it forces people to be uncomfortable. Despite this, the team really backed the idea and now we have the foundations of something that’s scalable and well architected for growth as a result.
The other main challenges come from the things you can’t control, crypto markets, economic situations, bad actors, you have to be constantly adjusting the business to account for things that a week ago would have been unthinkable.
My theory here is that if we set the people up right and give them a foundational platform that is hard wired to the non-changing elements, i.e. the domain, then we can somewhat incubate them from the external factors we can’t control and just empower them to react when necessary.
What new advancements in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are you keeping an eye on?
I think there is a lot of discourse around the subject both negative and positive. I like to focus on some of the problem solving around the known technical limitations.
We know scaling and throughput has been an issue in the past so solutions like ZK-rollups are interesting to think about. Whereas, transfer between networks is a problem that projects like Polkadot are solving in interesting ways.
A lot of people seem to believe that the environmental impact is generally negative, the switch to proof of stake on the Ethereum mainnet has been one way to counter this issue but for what you gain in the reduction in environmental cost you’re paying for in what we’ve seen with the loss of decentralisation.
I think the most interesting thing is all of the ways in which people are trying to use the blockchain. We’re going through a period of rapid growth in the area and the charge is being led in the UK for sure. Some of it’s useful and some of it isn’t but it’s interesting to see it evolve. Where the problem is a transparent movement of value then the blockchain can help.
How do you plan to continue to innovate and improve your platform in the future?
Given some of the points around the environmental impact of the blockchain I’m currently pushing the tech team to think about a serverless first approach to projects, not having servers running 24/7 and utilising on demand compute power can go some of the way to offsetting the impact that people think our industry is having.
We’re also looking to build out some new trading instruments that should really offer our customers something special in the next 6 months.
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