The half billion dollar Coincheck exchange hack is still working its way through the ecosystem, carrying implications of all sorts. Rarely mentioned is how, at least in part, the exchange’s problems were due to a lack of crypto engineers in Japan. A dearth of engineering know-how is a perfect recipe for security gaps to be exploited.
Japan Needs Crypto Engineers
Shortly after the hack was discovered, Coincheck’s Koichiro Wada explained,“We were aware we didn’t have enough people working on internal checks, management and system risk. We strived to expand using headhunters and agencies, but ended up in this situation.” It was a spectacular mess, and in many ways the industry continues to deal with its ramifications: mergers, class action lawsuits, calls for more and tougher regulation, dramatic runs on the exchange as users attempt to withdraw what remains, and all that happening only four months after the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) gave the exchange formal approval.
Japan, of course, is a hotbed of crypto activity. The country has over 30 exchanges. And that does not include the “100 other companies [that] have approached the watchdog [overseeing] the sector about applying for a license,” the FSA told Reuters.
Mike Kayamori of the crypto exchange Quoine explained: “The FSA is breathing down necks on security, compliance and risk. And if you don’t hire, you won’t be able to survive.” According to Pascal Hideki Hamonic of Descartes Search, a recruiter specializing in tech and part of the Japan Blockchain Association, placement services like theirs cannot keep up with demand for crypto talent. In fact, according to the company, 60% of all placements within tech are crypto-related, and that’s up 15% from a year ago.