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Q&A with top women in crypto: Ioana Frincu, Chief Technology Officer at EQIFi
In the third interview of our Q&A series with successful female experts in the digital asset space, we speak to Ioana Frincu, Chief Technology Officer at EQIFi, an automated liquidity pool aggregator which aims to make the crypto journey simple and intuitive for its users.
Ioana tells us all about how she managed to make it to the role of CTO by the age of just 27, and shares her hopes for the blockchain industry in the coming five years. Read on for her story and her tips for women starting out in the digital asset industry today.
How did you get into digital assets?
I started six years ago by writing whitepapers. My background is as an engineer and I was working as a data scientist at the time, when a friend got in touch to ask me to work on his new crypto project. I was 22 years old at that time and we were the first company in Romania working on blockchain projects.
After that, I built the first crypto exchange in Singapore, which took just three and a half months, so it was quite a feat. Since then I have worked with dozens of projects on their ICOs, IDOs and technical solutions. I have had the chance to work on almost all aspects of crypto, from crypto exchanges to digital identity to real estate tokenization.
How did you start working for EQIFi?
The CEO and founder of EQIFi, Brad Yasar is my friend and we worked on a number of successful projects together in the past. He asked me to join EQIFi and develop the company together, and I agreed. I’ve always been passionate about finance, from personal finance to banking, so it was a natural step from one industry to the other for me.
In my role at EQIFi, I coordinate all of our development. For example, we are currently launching our mobile app, so I make sure the product architecture is sound, that our developers know what they’re doing and that our users enjoy the product. We have the mobile app, the web app, and all of our portfolios are managed automatically via algorithms. We also have an analytics engine; it’s quite a complicated system. We already have 20 developers working on EQIFi and we are looking to hire more.
What development are you most excited about in the digital asset space going forward?
I am particularly excited about everything that lowers fees. I see the ecosystem growing a lot. Today we have sophisticated tools that cut a lot of development time, which were unheard of before. The existence of bridges between blockchains has also simplified liquidity and asset transfers. The number of technologies available right now makes the environment more competitive, and this is very exciting.
I expect to see decentralized exchanges getting more and more sophisticated. You cannot even compare what we have today with EtherDelta, where you just placed a transaction and hoped for the best. You can do a lot of things today that you couldn’t do five years ago. What we are experiencing today is like a blockchain renaissance.
What do you think the ecosystem will be like in another five years?
In the next five years, I would love to see more frameworks on Ethereum especially. Maybe we will even have Ethereum 2.0! I can’t say I’m upset with how long Ethereum V2 is taking, though, because I can see how much work it is. All development always takes three times the time, three times the money, and three times the nervous breakdowns than expected.
I also expect to see a lot of development in the institutional space. For example, institution to institution transactions might move to the blockchain, and we will see new standards developing there. I see blockchain becoming a more common technology, but I think it will take longer than five years to become fully mature. But there are a lot of brilliant minds working in crypto, I see more and more of them every year.
What is it like being a successful woman in the crypto industry?
It’s still very common to enter a room and not see women. Even today, many people don’t really expect the CTO to be a woman. But in technology, there are not as many women either, so it wasn’t such a big transition for me going into blockchain.
When I started in this industry, I was also very young. I’m 28 right now and I was 22 when I started working in blockchain. But in my experience, I was always taken seriously, with very few exceptions. I love that it’s such a young industry, because the vibe is young and there is no need to conform to old norms.
What can we do as an industry to encourage more women to join?
I see more and more women getting into this industry and there are a lot of development programs for women. But do you know what's better than mentorship for women? Funding for women. It’s more important. When it comes to actually pitching ideas and getting investments, it’s still very difficult for women to be perceived on equal footing with their male counterparts.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in the crypto industry, what would it be?
Pick what you like doing in the blockchain space and focus on being the best at it. Don’t waste your time pleasing other people or chasing each new opportunity. Become better every day, read every piece of research and articles connected to your chosen topic. Remember, every overnight success took 10 years to deliver.
And also, make friends, but not because you need investors. Just build genuine friendships with people and things will follow their natural course, and you will end up building things together. This is how it has been in my career.