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Women leaders in fintech

Maxine Ryan

Founder, Spark



Maxine Ryan studied international relations in Australia, but upon graduation, “Nothing interested me.” She returned to her native Hong Kong and a friend introduced her to crypto – and she was hooked. “Plus I wanted to help people,” she said.

Ryan set up Spark (then called BitSpark) in 2014. She claims it is the first company to use bitcoin for money transfers, as a means to support unbanked companies and people or companies reliant upon cash. “We replace traditional financial infrastructure so any business can be bankless,” she said.

Nor does she think the advent of virtual banking in Hong Kong will help: whether banks are offline or online, they are cutting back service to small enterprises.

“Banks are not extending risk to cash-based businesses, like money-transfer operators or remittance players,” she said.

Ryan is leading the charge in other developing parts of the crypto space. Spark has just launched a decentralized, fully peer-to-peer exchange, which she hopes will support the creation of a variety of coins tethered to many fiat currencies.

Unlike other DEX, which seem designed to support token trades for their own sake, Spark’s P2P network aims to enable small businesses, such as remittance operators, to transfer money cross-border in support of their everyday operations. It’s a real-world use case, and if it succeeds – first of all, by attracting liquidity – Ryan will contribute enormously to stable coins and decentralized exchanges.

“This creates the infrastructure to tokenize and trade anything through our platform and our robo app,” she said.

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