From Open Outcry Trading to the Betting Industry — Meet the Man Behind Digitex Futures
Digitex Futures CEO Adam Todd is a man of many skills. Taking his passion for trading to the betting industry, don’t miss this Q&A with one of crypto’s most fascinating men.
Showing up for work every day in one of the most cutthroat environment’s possible isn’t for everyone. You have to have an iron-cast stomach and will to match physically “jostling and shouting” in a trading pit packed with “foul-mouthed” aggressive young men.
Yet, if you look beyond the theater, the noise, the skyrocketing highs, and plummeting lows, you can almost see how outcry trading could get you hooked. Especially if you’re the type of person with a strong competitive streak. According to Adam, the trading pit was “an exhilarating place with an electric feel that heightened your senses.” But, it eventually burned him out as well.
After four years wrestling it out with other traders, Todd bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand. This was the start of an adventure-packed journey that would lead him to build the world’s first ever commission-free futures trading platform.
How did he get here? Let’s see what he has to say.
CC: Open outcry trading can be hardcore. What prompted you to get out of the pit?
AT: I started pit trading when I was 19, trading 10 Year Bund futures on my own account. I loved pit trading, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. If you can imagine taking 200 of the most aggressive, foul-mouthed youths and putting them all together in a pack environment that brings out the worst in them, that is a typical trading pit.
Just the mechanics of physically jostling and shouting and waving your arms in the air to enter and exit trades added an extra element to trading that doesn’t exist anymore with screen trading. It was an exhilarating place with an electric feel that heightened your senses, but the high costs of my seat lease and the relentless battle against commissions meant that it was always a struggle.
As a very short-term scalper stealing ticks here and there it was a very physical job and after a few years, I was just burned out by it. I must have needed a break from it because the first thing I did when I left the trading floor was to buy an air ticket to New Zealand, where I spent three of the next six months living alone in the bush hiking through every National Park and Forest Park in the country.
CC: What value did trading horse racing prices end up bringing to your current work as founder of Digitex?
AT: After traveling the world for six years I discovered Betfair.com and soon became a full-time trader on their UK horse racing markets. I would trade the odds on the favorite horse right up until the race was due to start, scalping the spread and making the same amount of money whether the horse won or lost the race.
In this manner, I would trade on every race throughout the day without any knowledge of horse racing and without ever watching a race or caring what horse won or lost. I’d win nine races out of ten and my longest winning run was eight months of full-time day trading without a losing day.
This was the same style of trading I did when scalping Bund futures–very short-term trading without any knowledge of the fundamentals of the underlying instrument. This is my favorite style of trading and the Digitex Futures Exchange has been designed and built with this style of trader in mind.
Zero trading commissions, a one-click ladder trading interface, and large tick sizes are all scalper-friendly features that will make Digitex the futures exchange of choice for short-term traders looking to make consistent profits.
CC: You traveled for several years, supporting yourself as a serial entrepreneur. What were some of the creative ways you drummed up financing to keep moving along?
AT: I did all kinds of different jobs and schemes during those traveling years, from cleaning swimming pools in New Zealand to working on a ranch in South Africa. I got used to a cycle of feast and famine with regards to my finances when traveling. That introduced an extra element of adventure that I still miss.
CC: What are some of your major takeaways from those years abroad?
AT: I realized there was much more to life than money and started making decisions based on what made me happy. The problem with that outlook on life was that I never made it home to England again!
CC: Can you talk a little about your ‘aha’ moment when you started to put Digitex Futures in motion?
AT: I had dreamed about somehow trading futures with no trading commissions but it was never more than an idle thought. Then I discovered Ethereum which I really liked. Being able to easily create your own currency by piggybacking on Ethereum’s blockchain technology just blew my mind and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
My mind went into overdrive thinking about how best to capitalize on this amazing new technology that I knew was going to shake up everything it touched.
When it occurred to me that token issuance could replace transaction fees on a futures exchange, suddenly I could think about nothing else and started working full time on creating Digitex. It’s so exciting to be working on this with the resources we now have.
CC: Why did you choose Dublin for the Digitex HQ?
AT: After our blowout ICO raised over $5 million, I was very keen to build an in-house team of developers who would build the Digitex Futures Exchange trading platform. Creating an in-house team is more difficult, more expensive, and takes longer to set up than hiring remote coders, but it’s worth the extra effort and expense.
A team of dedicated coders that physically work together on only one project creates higher quality software that remote teams just cannot match. I’ve always been acutely aware that the success of the whole project is underpinned by the quality of the trading platform, so building a quality team of experienced coders was the priority after the ICO.
Dublin seemed like a natural choice because it’s a vibrant tech hub with a large pool of talent. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Airbnb have all established a presence in Dublin and we’ve managed to build a top quality team that’s excited by the prospect of building something disruptive.
CC: You said that Digitex doesn’t compete with platforms like Binance or Coinbase because it’s a platform for futures contracts and not a crypto exchange. Can you talk a little more about how that makes Digitex unique?
AT: What makes Digitex unique is the fact that all trading profits and losses on our Bitcoin and Ethereum futures contracts are denominated in DGTX tokens. Therefore, traders must have a sufficient balance of DGTX in their trading account to cover their potential losses. This creates demand for DGTX by traders who must own it to participate in our highly liquid, commission-free futures markets.
This demand for DGTX tokens allows the exchange to cover its costs by minting a small number of new DGTX tokens each year instead of penalizing the most active traders with transaction fees. By removing the constraint of commissions, short-term traders are encouraged to create highly liquid markets by being able to pursue very short-term trading strategies that aren’t viable on other fee-charging exchanges.
CC: The Digitex ICO sold out in 17 minutes. How is the team working to add value to the DGTX token?
AT: The quality of the trading platform underpins everything. That’s why we went to the extra effort and expense of setting up an in-house software development team in Dublin. A stable and secure platform that can handle large spikes in usage is by far the most effective way we can add value to the DGTX token.
But there’s no point in launching a great exchange to tumbleweed, so we must also do a good job with the marketing of the upcoming launch. We sold out our ICO in 17 minutes because we built a huge list of 250,000 people who registered on our website in just two weeks.
We did that by using viral marketing techniques and we have already created our current marketing campaigns that also have viral marketing elements. Our Early Access Waitlist to the exchange when it launches is growing by several thousand people every day. We’re also doing a lot of extra work to increase awareness of Digitex.
CC: What’s most exciting to you about the upcoming summit in Malta?
I’ve never done a speech in front of more than 30 people, so giving a keynote speech in front of thousands of attendees will be an interesting experience that I’m really looking forward to. I’ve been blessed with the abilities and resources to pursue my Digitex dream and Malta is a great way for us to show the world what we’re doing.
We’ve got a big stand and the Digitex team will be 7-strong at the conference, ready to answer questions and demo the software to anyone that’s interested in commission-free futures trading.
I see Malta as a defining point in the Digitex story where we establish ourselves as a credible project with great execution and drive.
CC: Thank you, Adam, a ton of exciting developments afoot!
After speaking to the Digitex CEO, you get the feeling of jumping on a high-speed bullet train. Although the destination is nearly in sight, no one knows for sure exactly what it will look like upon arrival. But with a man fueled by passion, tenacity, and a refusal to deliver anything less than perfect at the helm, this is one bet that looks like a sure winner.