Interview with Jack Tao, the Founder of Phemex Cryptocurrency Exchange

Phemex Cryptocurrency Exchange

Phemex is a leading cryptocurrency exchange, making waves with its zero-fee spot trading model. TechBullion has interviewed Jack Tao, an ex-Morgan Stanley executive and the founder of Phemex. 

What would you consider to be Phemex’s biggest strengths, and its biggest selling points?

We believe that our strengths are rooted in our principles. As a company, we follow 4 core values. We always place the customer first, we strive to improve every day, we want mutually beneficial partnerships, and we will always give back to our community. Besides these guiding principles, many of which come directly from our experiences in the traditional finance field, our services are simply superior in many ways. A great example is our pioneering zero-fee spot trading service. Rather than charging you 0.1-0.5% per trade, we have membership plans that cost as little as $6.99 per month. Every new update we release follows this mentality of providing better and more accessible services that prioritize our customer’s needs. 

Decentralization technology is becoming more powerful every passing year. Are there any plans to eventually transform Phemex into a DEX, or make it a non-custodial exchange?

The technology we require to become a DEX is not ready yet. However, we are exploring if a transition to a non-custodial exchange is possible while still maintaining the many benefits and security features that we provide our clients. We believe that the main purpose of an exchange is to help facilitate the exchange value efficiently. For such purposes, centralized exchanges still have their relative advantages at the moment.  

Do you think decentralized exchanges will eventually be able to offer the same level of performance as today’s top centralized exchanges? If so, how long do you think it might take? And what are Phemex’s plans for when that day comes?

As blockchain/bitcoin believers, we do think decentralized exchanges will be able to offer the same performance levels that we find in top centralized exchanges today. These will continue to improve progressively with the help of new research breakthroughs.  However, we also believe that DeEx and CeEx can and will co-exist to provide liquidity together. Phemex’s goal is to become a more comprehensive financial service provider. Our function as a cryptocurrency exchange may become only one part of the ultimate list of services we plan to offer our clients. 

It has been said that Phemex is the fastest cryptocurrency and derivatives exchange out there. From a technical standpoint, what makes Phemex superior to other well-known exchanges such as Binance or BitMEX?

Many of our well-known competitors have suffered outages in critical times of high volatility leading to significant losses for their users. We’ve designed our systems to avoid such issues. Our platform consists of two core components: a CrossEngine that matches client orders based on price and timing priorities and a TradingEngine that manages a full set of risk checks on behalf of the client’s trading account. Because our engines are highly customized, minimizing 3rd party lib dependencies, our core is simple, light, and fast. Our Phemex engines are easily 10x faster than competitors’. Similarly, our specially designed disaster recovery system offers users 99.99% high availability 24×7. We run our engines with multiple hot and warm backups at the same time. This means that maintenance, upgrades, or recovery periods are seamless and unnoticeable to our users. 

How do you select or prioritize which projects to list on your exchange?

There are many factors we take into account. These include the maturity of a technology, the members of their leadership team, overall popularity, and more. We also run polls to collect feedback from our retail/institutional clients. A project’s willingness and ability to promote and support each other in a mutually beneficial way is another consideration. Currently, we continue to work hard to list as many new promising projects as we can.  

Which would you consider is a bigger priority: listing new projects on your exchange, or coming up with innovative new derivative products?

Luckily, this is not a choice we have to make as our team is capable of advancing both objectives at the same time. In other words, there is no particular priority. Nevertheless, some derivative products do take more time to implement than listing a new project. In any case, the needs of our clients will always be our priority in how we determine the path forward. 

Given that GOLD futures are available on Phemex, do you plan on further exploring other markets (precious metals, commodities, Forex, etc), or will you continue to focus on crypto?

We are definitely exploring other markets, not just cryptos. With Phemex, we want to build a platform that offers users a convenient and easy way to invest in a variety of assets. However, we are finding that entering traditional markets is much more challenging than we expected.

Phemex is praised by many for its intuitive, easy to use, feature-rich interface. What do you plan on doing next to improve it further?

As mentioned, we are developing more products. We have plans to integrate or move many existing traditional assets into the crypto field. The challenge we face is due to the incredibly wide range of different users with different backgrounds and skills that we must accommodate. Amusingly, creating a product that is “easy” to understand, “easy” to use, and also cost-effective for the user is actually anything but “easy”. Yet, that is Phemex’s mission and we remain firmly committed to making these a reality. We are currently exploring many options: more perpetual contracts, funds, and many unique assets. 

What is the biggest challenge you face to make Phemex as successful as it can be?

Talent. As Phemex grows, we face more and more challenges. These aren’t necessarily the biggest or most complex problems. However, finding the right person to help Phemex conquer these individual roadblocks is still critical. We have a great team to start with, but I foresee that we will need even more talented people to help Phemex to continue to grow. A straightforward recruiting push is not the only solution. Our goal is to make Phemex a place that actually helps people grow and build up their careers. From the start, Phemex has always had its own unique culture and we must aim at continual improvement and providing one of the best working places in the world. 

Describe a typical day working for Phemex. How many employees are there, and are they working remotely, or do you share an office?

Phemex has offices in various places across the world. We use multiple communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Jira, Telegram, and many more every day. 

In terms of our base offices in Singapore, we typically begin our mornings with various meetings to touch base and set goals. Some teams must also sync up with other regions in the afternoon. We’ve chosen to use an open area office concept with central whiteboards as our setup. This model helps every team member be instantly available to anyone, as needed, for important discussions. Some of our offices are outfitted with our own private gyms. This way, when a developer inevitably encounters a stubborn bug they don’t like (I guess there has never been a bug they actually like) and must fix, they can escape into the gym for some deadlifts to release some steam. 

For more information about Phemex cryptocurrency exchange, visit

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