Hong Kong-listed company Grandshores Technology Group, a blockchain investor tied to a 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion) global blockchain fund backed by the government of China’s Hangzhou municipality, said late on Monday it had appointed China’s “bitcoin evangelist”, Li Xiaolai, as its co-chief executive and executive director.
The company said in a stock exchange announcement that Li, known for founding Bitfund, a bitcoin-focused venture capital fund in China that at its peak had 3.8 billion yuan in assets under management, will lead various projects at Grandshores. One of these will be a “stablecoin” pegged to the yen. A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency pegged to a stable asset, such as gold or a hard currency.
“Mr Li will mainly be responsible for various projects in which the company is taking part, including the establishment of a stable digital currency system (focusing on mainstream international currencies),” the company said in its announcement.
Grandshores is aiming to launch the yen stablecoin by February 2019, sources close to the company said on Tuesday. Its chairman, Yao Yongjie, has previously said it would also explore stablecoins pegged to the Hong Kong and Australian dollars.
Globally, there is a growing demand within the cryptocurrency community for stablecoins, which are being used for the settlement of cryptocurrency-denominated trades. Traders prefer stablecoins to fiat currencies because of their faster settlement time. Stablecoins are also often viewed as providing price stability, especially during periods of cryptocurrency market volatility.
Li, 46, an English-language teacher before his career in bitcoin and blockchain start-up investment, graduated from Changchun University with a degree in industrial enterprise accounting. His other blockchain investment vehicle is INBlockchain, which has invested in leading blockchain projects such as EOS.IO, an open-source blockchain platform that enables developers to build and deploy decentralised blockchain applications.
Li’s term is unspecified and he will hold office at least up until the company’s next annual general meeting, expected in August 2019. In its exchange announcement, Grandshores also said his pay will be determined by its remuneration committee and board.
In October, Hurun, the Shanghai-based publishing group that compiles the lists of China’s wealthiest individuals, estimated Li’s net worth at 7 billion yuan.
Grandshores has been positioned as an international launch pad for the Hangzhou Grandshores Fund. It is expected to help the backers of its affiliated mainland fund invest globally into blockchain start-ups with the potential of becoming the next blockchain unicorn, or private company valued at more than US$1 billion. Li is also one of the founders of the Hangzhou Grandshores Fund.
The company’s other co-CEO is Wang Qian, 30, formerly a fund manager with Grey Investment in Hong Kong. Shares in Grandshores closed 22.6 per cent higher at HK$1.25 on Tuesday.
Yao and Li could not be immediately reached for comment.