Alliance Blog

Youth and Thrill Seekers Ride the Wave of Crypto

Perched above the beaches of Santa Monica at the top of the iconic Clocktower building, a group of financial professionals and experts gathered at Clocktower Technology Ventures in the late afternoon of July 27th for a lively discussion about crypto. The hour-long conversation moderated by Greg Smith, SVP Digital Channels at City National Bank (CNB) went quickly as a select-group of top bank executives, venture capitalists, and startup founders listened carefully for keen insights on this emerging and highly volatile market.

If there was one thing the expert panelists agreed on, it’s the fact that very young people are surfing the wave of crypto. Teenagers are making millions of dollars on blockchain, NFTs, and crypto coins. Like a surfer waiting for the next wave to ride, these young people don’t hesitate to paddle out quickly hoping to catch the next wave. They spend their allowance on meme coins like dogecoin, collect NFTs like sneakerheads, and build their avatars in the metaverse. While they are practically putting web3 games and applications to use on a daily basis, the adults are upstairs delicately discussing the rules of the game.

The panel, from left to right: Greg Smith (City National Bank), Heidi Pease (Wave Financial), Ben Savage (Clocktower Ventures) and Stephanie Hurder (Prysm Group)

Expert panelists Heidi Pease of Wave Financial, Ben Savage of Clocktower Ventures, and Stephanie Hurder of Prysm Group had varied opinions on the vitality and longevity of new Web3 technologies. Their assessment and prognostications raised critical questions from the group as the bankers voiced concern over potential legal issues and investors wanted to know how this new technology might eventually be applied to real world situations in unique and compelling ways.  

It was clear from the expert opinions and the questions that the technologies built into Web3 development, such as decentralized storage, blockchain platforms and token-based economy, are still young and have many years before reaching maturity. Today’s market seems to be more driven by speculation than fundamentals as reflected by recent market corrections. One of the panelists poignantly compared Web3 technology with the 1993 version of the internet. They explained that legacy technology still works better at the moment than the new wave of Web3 tech but like the dotcom days, it may eventually catch-up and possibly burst into the mainstream. Until then, it may be best to allow the thrill seekers to lead the way in this rising wave.

After the conversation ended, the guests mingled for an additional hour to enjoy the view and engage in conversation fueled by hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.  No matter one’s opinion on the topic, everyone left energized by the conversation all thanks to the support of CNB and the hospitality of Clocktower Technology Ventures. 

The Alliance organized and produced this exclusive conversation to further innovation in fintech throughout SoCal. The “Crypto at Clocktower” conversation was the first of what we hope will be a new fintech innovation leadership series. If you are a SoCal fintech leader and would like to be considered for future convenings please contact me.