End of lockdown euphoria?

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Katharine Wooller, Managing Director, UK and Eire, Dacxi

Last month, UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the intended, cautious, timetable to exit from lockdown.

Assuming that the vaccination programme is victorious over this dreadful virus, it is hoped that it is our last lockdown. We cannot underestimate the human cost: 123,000 deaths so far with undoubtedly more to come; missed education for children; families and friends unable to meet; the devastating impact on mental health and the long-term implications of routine health visits missed.

I was amused to hear some of my New Zealand colleagues getting irritated at a weeklong lockdown, when in the UK we have spent most of last year under some level of lockdown. While managing Covid may be a part of our future, I am confident there is much to look forward to in the near term.

Firstly, I am very grateful to work for a business which is digital and made to be “online only”. We have experienced hyper growth over the last year and had an amazing 2021 so far: in fact, we did more business in the first seven weeks of this year, than we did throughout the entire 2020.

We have held very well-attended educational webinars around the subject of crypto, which attract even up to 200 attendees per session. The idea that we will be able to interact with our customers and distributors in person for the rest of the year holds huge promise. All businesses are built on relationships and trying to do this purely via zoom has been challenging. I look forward to meeting as many of our suppliers, customers and partners in the coming months as possible.

Crypto, as an industry has had an amazing year. It has come of age: even the Financial Times, long a crypto sceptic, ran a headline questioning whether the industry is now mainstream thanks to Elon Musk’s Tesla buying $1.5bn in bitcoin last month and now planning to accept it as payment.

I won’t run through all the new fans of crypto that have popped out of the woodwork in the last year, but it is fair to say the Coronavirus era has opened the eyes of the world’s largest banks, hedge funds and asset managers.

Arguably, this has been hastened by the largest black swan (*) event of all time. I like the idea, and it seems historically valid, that most currency systems last around 100 years, whether it’s the dollar or the gold standard, and now we are due for an imminent change.

I often tell people I work for the fast moving, fastest growing industry on the planet and to have had good news over the last year has been frankly a privilege and a joy. I see no reason for the progress of the industry to slow or reverse the trend once Covid is behind us.

I am also conscious that the majority of my team has been primarily onboarded remotely and while we talk for hours every week over various conference suites, it will be amazing to create a team culture “in person”. I imagine our first meet up will be joyous and feisty: after all, we will need to make up for the Christmas party that we missed.

I find myself wondering if some of the people I have recruited will look different in real life or if it will be odd to see them without the backdrop of their living room window and children/spouse/cat wafting past occasionally. I assume we will all look a little different, if only because the hairdressers should be open by April.

I find myself wondering what may have changed once we have the lockdown firmly behind us. Certainly, I will never underestimate the power of human connection. While we have all had to show great resilience and creativity in working long-term from home, there is really no substitute for thrashing out an idea over a coffee or an idle chat about last night’s football match by the watercooler. I’m also hoping the world will be a bit nicer and kinder: the last year has been challenging in 100 different ways and like most people my eyes are set firmly on a much brighter future.

The final stages of exiting lockdown will, we hope, be 21 June. It is currently being feted by some sections of the press as “independence day”. It will certainly feel that way; I shall be joyously socialising with much missed friends, using the gym, restaurants and attending live music events. Actually, assuming it is safe to do so, I shall even be tempted to dance in the streets and I am sure I won’t be the only one!

(*) a black swan is an extremely rare event with severe economic consequencies

Adventures of a unicorn is a business blog documenting the daily life of tech start-up in hypergrowth. Dacxi is a unique crypto business in the crowd-lending space

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