Gone Crypto: Wall Street Veteran Catches Digital Assets Bug

Ariel Ling started her career on Wall Street at KPMG, she completed her stint in mainstream finance at Deutsche Bank almost 20 years later Ling and co-founder George Cao launched AscendEX, formerly BitMax, to revolutionize crypto trading

“I grew up on Wall Street,” said Ariel Ling, co-founder and COO of crypto asset exchange AscendEX, referring to her career in traditional finance.

But after nearly two decades working for companies from Lehman Brothers to Deutsche Bank, Ling and a colleague saw where the future of finance was heading.

“We talked about crypto in 2017,” she said. “The differences and similarities between crypto trading, which was on the rise, and stock trading. We have seen a lot of similarities in terms of trading mechanisms and volatility. ”

Ling’s last role on Wall Street was at Deutsche Bank, where she was US head of liquidity and investment products. This position gave her a front-row seat on how financial institutions and corporate clients approach their investment strategy. She noticed a business opportunity.

“The idea behind AscendEX was to take what we’ve learned and what we’ve gained from a Wall Street perspective and see if we can make an impact on this new industry,” Ling said.

Ling and his co-founder George Cao launched BitMax in 2018. The company was renamed AscendEX in March 2021.

“When I look at what intrigued me in 2018, or at the end of 2017, when George and I were looking at this industry, there are several things,” Ling said. “The way I see it, blockchain has the potential to have revolutionary and evolutionary impacts on our lives.”

Ling said her banking background led her to view blockchain from a payments perspective. There were ways to use technology to streamline the process and maximize profits.

“We are looking at blockchain technology, even on the banking side,” she said. “Technology reminds me of the Internet. I’m still intrigued by technology, and thought there was huge potential back then.

Crypto trading at the time, Ling said, was in need of an overhaul as well.

“I noticed a lot of gaps, market structures and integrations, all kinds of things,” she said. “I think it’s a very interesting emerging asset class and it could have a pretty good future, if it goes the right way.”

The crypto environment has been a welcome change for Ling as she continues to build AscendEX.

“I was quite happy after 20 years as a company, working with different investment banks and moving from a vice president to managing all of the liquidity business,” she said. “I have participated in many entrepreneurial activities with different planning, but I have never done anything myself. It was interesting, to jump out of the corporate costume and into a very chaotic entrepreneurial environment. ”

The startup culture is exactly what Ling and Cao were looking for.

“People who know me well know that I really wanted something different,” Ling said. “After going through so many organizations, especially large companies, I see the structure, the institutional aspects and the limiting factors. Starting your own business gives you a clean slate, the sky’s the limit.

Today, AscendEX is a global cryptocurrency exchange offering spot, futures and margin trading. The platform also provides portfolio and staking services to clients.

As the business grew, Ling’s understanding of the asset class widened.

“I thought bitcoin was only for volatility, now I’m a lot more neutral about that,” she said. “I think it’s a longer term game. And it’s also an investment that you can build into your portfolio.

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