Who’s Who in Crypto: Robert Alcorn, CEO and Co-Founder of Clearpool
Robert Alcorn is an experienced entrepreneur with over 20 years of professional experience across global financial markets. Rob was an early adopter of Bitcoin, first venturing into crypto in 2015. Prior to establishing Clearpool, Rob was the APAC Head of Repo Trading at First Abu Dhabi Bank, where he built the sales and trading desk from the ground up, into a multi-billion-dollar franchise. Alongside this role, Rob initiated and led a project to build an Automated Wealth Management Platform through the utilization of blockchain technology.
Clearpool is the first decentralized dynamic marketplace for institutional unsecured capital. Backed by investors like Sequoia Capital, users of the borrowing and lending protocol include names like Wall Street giant, Jane Street.
1. What are your priorities for the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months, my focus will be to ensure that we, as a team, continue to build and deliver on Clearpool’s roadmap and work towards our long-term vision. We have had a great start since we launched in March this year. Although this was at the onset of the current bear market, Clearpool has experienced tremendous growth and adoption in this short space of time, so this gives us great momentum which is a huge advantage as we head into what I believe will be a prolonged period of uncertainty and volatility.
Having achieved product-market fit and established a strong early user base, the focus is now on building in two main areas; product and ecosystem.
Clearpool has a very innovative and unique product, there is nothing like it in TradFi or DeFi, and this core product is the foundation upon which further innovation can be built. We have a number of products in the pipeline that will be launched over the next 12 months, starting with a delegated staking governance mechanism for CPOOL and a new framework for permissioned liquidity pools. We are also very close to deploying on Polygon, as well as implementing a new interest rate curve for permissionless pools, which will eventually be derived through the delegated staking model.
The Clearpool ecosystem is already very strong with some of the largest players in the industry participating either as borrowers or lenders, as well as some traditional heavyweights such as Jane Street Capital. We have a number of other similar profiles lining up to use the protocol, and our focus from a business development perspective will be to continue this adoption, whilst at the same time being careful to ensure that we keep an eye on any contagion effects from recent events in order to keep the protocol as secure as possible.
2. What does crypto mean to you and what drew you to it?
Crypto to me is the path to self-sovereignty. It levels the playing field and removes the need for large centralized controlling intermediaries.
Early on in my career as a banker I became interested in financial inclusion and started to explore how technology could disintermediate the stronghold that large financial institutions have over our personal finances. In 2015 I was exploring the burgeoning digital wealth management sector and was drawn to blockchain as a way to improve the underlying architecture which I had identified as the real problem-point for the success of these platforms. Naturally having deep-dived into blockchain I soon became interested in crypto, and it has been my passion ever since.
3. What is your long-term view of crypto?
I am extremely bullish long-term. We already have many examples of how crypto and blockchain can improve many aspects of our lives. As more talent continues to enter the space, and more people and institutions understand the benefits of decentralized systems, it will become more apparent that we are still very early in the adoption of blockchain and crypto.
As an example, right now on Clearpool, we have mainly crypto-native borrowers who are comfortable with the concepts of DeFi, however, we believe that within the next five to 10 years the majority of debt worldwide will be originated on-chain. We will literally see a 100 trillion dollar migration of value from traditional systems moving on to blockchain systems. This will bring many different borrower and lender profiles to protocols like Clearpool which will be at the forefront of this migration. In fact, we have already seen the first movers with the launch of the Jane Street pool on Clearpool, the first major Wall Street institution to borrow digital assets through a DeFi protocol.
4. What advice would you give people investing in crypto?
Do your own research (DYOR). I wouldn’t buy any digital asset based on a recommendation, even from my closest friends in the industry, without first researching it myself. A solid understanding of the underlying technology will help as a base, and then just ask lots of questions, if the answers don’t satisfy you then move on. Try to understand your emotions when you invest, take a step back and never rush into anything.
5. How do you feel about the way the world is regulating crypto?
I am firmly in the camp that believes that regulation is needed and will be a good thing in the long run for crypto. We are building the future of finance, and like with legacy finance, this will have to be subject to regulation. I am also firmly in the camp that believes that blockchain, crypto and decentralized finance offer a massive improvement on legacy finance and should therefore be a welcome sight to regulators who have the best interest of end-users in mind. Good quality DeFi protocols should be solving some of the problems of legacy systems and at the same time improving safety and transparency among other things. With that said I believe regulation will begin at the edges, with exchanges, on-ramps and custodians first invited to the regulators’ table.