Japanese Entrepreneur Building Global Startups
CoinJinja COO & Co-founder, Yu Numazaki shares his business philosophy and plans for building the world’s most popular cryptocurrency app.
One year ago, if you were to ask me how I would describe Yu Numazaki, I would have probably responded, “Oh, that Japanese guy who is constantly starting up new businesses around Asia and has a few screws loose.” In fact, he’s one of the few people I know who is as crazy as me.
However, in November 2017, Yu and I co-founded CoinJinja Co., Ltd. in Japan. The company’s mission is to offer services that are highly sought after by virtual currency investors and traders. Currently, our two main products are CoinJinja, Japan’s leading ICO listing website, and CoinView, Japan’s most popular third-party cryptocurrency app.
Since virtual currencies is a new field and regarded by many as lacking transparency, we thought it would be a good idea to let our users get a closer look at our company and Yu’s side of the story. Yu interviewed me earlier, so this time, I get to interview him.
I originally published this interview in Japanese, but due to popular demand from our user community, am reproducing it here in English.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in 1987 to Japanese parents in Montreal, Canada. My father was a professor at McGill University, so grew up with an international perspective. I later attended Sophia University, which is known for its global mindset.
Why did you decide to start a cryptocurrency business?
I was previously running an employment agency in Asia. While I was doing that, I was coming into contact with a lot of students from top universities in places like China and Southeast Asia.
I also helped them find jobs at Japanese businesses. But I always had doubts about and asked myself, “Is this really helping their countries’ development?”
At the time, I thought that it would be helpful, from both a technological and business perspective, if there were people acting as a bridge between Japan and the Asian countries experiencing demographic dividends. The idea behind this was that maybe nations in Africa and Southeast Asia would grow economically in the same way Japan and China did.
However, as I continued working there, I was unsure if the demographic dividend, which was based around the manufacturing industry, or even the structure of capitalism itself would continue to work in future. The idea that countries with a sizable working-age population develop extremely fast economically is predicated on the fact that this produces a lot of simple factory jobs. By exporting these jobs to foreign countries with high prices, you gain foreign currencies.
And, as the economy develops, the government gets a bigger budget to spend on things like infrastructure and education, which in turn makes the country more… etcetera, etcetera. But nowadays, more and more manufacturing jobs are being automated, so will a lot of jobs really be created? The millennial generation doesn’t have the idea that consumption is good so the amount of goods consumed may decrease as well.
When I realized that, I began to think that unless something happens to update our economic system, developing countries might never develop.
Now I’m not Thomas Piketty, but I think that in this system, the people who currently hold the capital are going to keep getting richer and richer.
For the last few years, I’ve been wanting to start a business that can show us the system that will come after capitalism. The philosophical background behind cryptocurrency is one of decentralization, but the aspect that most intrigued me was the way it fundamentally changes the value of money. I think this is where we’ll find the next way of understanding things.
Why are you so concerned about capitalism and related issues?
Straight to the point, aren’t you (laughs). To put it simply, I think that ultimately the meaning of starting a business is to contribute to the development of the world economy, and the only thing I’m sure about is that if the economy grows, the population will increase.
Thinking quantitatively about the significance of businesses, if you make something that can be measured, you’re producing something new of value, so the economy grows, and the number of people it can support increases. This is the only thing that I’m really sure about. Of course there are other social issues, and I know there are lots of services that have meaning and value, but personally, I’m only really interested in business.
I also don’t really understand businesses that say they want to make an “impact” on the world; what would they quantitatively define as an “impact”? Of course, things like that are just for their own self-satisfaction, and for me if the numbers aren’t good enough, I can’t be satisfied.
Connecting this philosophy with our new company CoinJinja, what direction would you like to move the business in?
There are two keywords:
- “Number of users,” and,
- “Token economy.”
First off, we’re going to be focusing not on CoinJinja, our ICO listing website, but on the CoinView mobile app. To gain active users, we need to be in the top ten apps they use on their phone. It is very different from a regular web service. We want to improve the application to the point that everything crypto-related can be done through CoinView.
Furthermore, we want to reach the number one spot within the app store ranking for the finance category. Not only in Japan but overseas as well. If you were to ask, “What are the most important KPIs?” I’d say the only one that matters is the number of users.
As for the second part, the “Token Economy,” we’ve already started preparing to issue our own unique tokens within the app, but the important thing is how these tokens will be used. At the moment, even if you look at other examples, you can’t know exactly what kinds of tokens are used the most.
We want to issue the tokens first, and find the answer through trial and error.
Currently, there are also legal issues, so we have it set up so you’ll be able to sell/trade the tokens in future. It uses ERC20, the Ethereum token standard. But, on the other hand, at the moment it doesn’t have any monetary value, so we’ll have to wait until the token starts moving to set a price.
In my understanding, the token economy is separate from the blockchain system. The blockchain, and more specifically, proof-of-work (POW) systems like Bitcoin, are incredible in the way they utilize game theory by taking the self-interested actions of the users and programming them into the system.
The idea of the token economy is to reconstruct the relationships between the investors, businesses, and users, and work together to make the token as valuable as it can be. It’s a community-driven idea, with a very sentimental aspect to it.
The autonomous Bitcoin network looks like it’s relatively stable, but there aren’t many examples of the idea of giving value to something that was previously worthless, like you see in the token economy.
It isn’t completely decentralized, but I think the fact that you have this system where value is created not through capitalism, but through a natural system where people contribute to their community, is essential. Although, I do think this idea comes from my view that creating value from nothing is the most valuable thing there is.
What are your goals for the future?
Our goal is to create “The most widely used cryptocurrency app in the world.” To do this, our marketing team is made up of people from multiple countries, and I want to keep developing more overseas.
If you were to ask, “How do you become the number one app?”, I think you just have to keep trying new things. What I mean by that is, and this is a vast overgeneralization, but I think the cryptocurrency world is moving insanely quickly. If you’re still doing the same things you were three months ago, you’ve got a problem. I instinctively feel that if we don’t keep up with these changes, we won’t be able to survive.
The most important thing is probably to keep doing new things and turn the vague fascination people have with cryptocurrency into something tangible, to get them to try out the app for themselves.
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