Small But Mighty : Andrea Shaw – bitFlyer USA – CEO

When we asked Shaw to describe bitFlyer’s advantage in the evolving cryptocurrency exchange landscape, she said, “bitFlyer’s assortment is small but mighty, kind of like me.” 

Cryptocurrency is constantly moving. Every second, coins are bought, swapped, and sold. Crypto price graphs look like jagged mountain ranges with giant peaks and valleys. There are no days off for cryptocurrency, unlike in traditional finance markets. Crypto never sleeps. 

bitFlyer, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges globally by volume, hired Andrea Shaw as their US-Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) last fall, and most recently she was named interim CEO. 

Shaw’s bright energy output makes one wonder if she, too, ever sleeps. 

Her position of CCO required a delicate balance between understanding rules and regulations on local, state, federal, and global levels, enforcing them, partnering with the business to meet business goals, and collaborating with the powers that be to establish new ones in order move the crypto industry forward. 

Blockster recently caught up with Andrea Shaw as she was working from home in Chicago. We had the pleasure of speaking with Shaw about her role at bitFlyer, her background, and the future of DeFi. 

About bitFlyer

Founded in 2014 in Japan, bitFlyer is one of the largest bitcoin exchanges globally by volume, transacting $250 billion year-to-date. bitFlyer has grown to over 2 million users. The company seeks to revolutionize the FinTech sector using blockchain and related applications.

bitFlyer focuses on a quality coin assortment. In addition to Bitcoin, the exchange offers the following coins for trade:

  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Lisk (LSK)
  • Monacoin (MONA)
  • Stellar Lumens (XLM)
  • Basic Attention Token (BAT)
  • Tezos (XTZ)
  • Polkadot (DOT)

When we asked Shaw to describe bitFlyer’s advantage in the evolving cryptocurrency exchange landscape, she said, “bitFlyer’s assortment is small but mighty, kind of like me.” 

Mighty indeed. Being a woman of color from the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world (Queens, NY), she brings a unique but vital perspective to her current position as CEO.

Andrea Shaw is a Rising Star in Crypto

Andrea Shaw is an Albany Law School graduate from Queens, New York. The borough of Queens is a patchwork of dozens of unique neighborhoods, each with its distinctive personality. Shaw was raised here in a multi-generational household where financial literacy wasn’t a topic of conversation. She set her sights on law school and a career as a prosecutor, but the world had other plans for her.

Graduating from law school as the global financial crisis hit, her dreams of continuing as a prosecutor were sidelined by something she hadn’t considered when she entered law school – the finance industry. However, shortly after graduation, she began to rack up a string of impressive career highlights that included serving as in-house counsel for Morgan Stanley, being named to as America’s Regional Head of Global Financial Crimes at American Express, and Head of Regulatory Change for Deutsche Bank. 

“bitFlyer USA’s assortment is small but mighty, kind of like me.”

Andrea Shaw was brought on as the Chief Compliance Officer for bitFlyer in September 2021. Her leadership has been crucial for the continued success of bitFlyer in the US.

Shaw sees compliance as her “superpower” to help build up bitFlyer’s exchange business and also expand to emerging areas in the DeFi sector. With her extensive knowledge of the law and traditional banking, Shaw brings unique insight to the fast maturing crypto space as regulators get more keen to putting operators under the microscope. Andrea Shaw is using compliance to build the future, she earnestly declares, “Compliance is an innovator. Compliance is a business partner. I’m able to weaponize compliance to be a business differentiator.”

Shaw and bitFlyer – The Future of DeFi

bitFlyer was “born in Tokyo, raised in Silicon Valley,” according to their website. Merging two different cultures could be a challenge. 

However, Shaw said the most significant adjustment the company has been tasked with is to comply with US regulations and get their arms around the cost of doing business in the States. In comparison with Japan, the US regulatory climate and the costs associated with successfully operating a business in the US are high. 

The United States is heavily regulated, and it has robust cybersecurity and information security requirements. Each state requires a license to operate, which is something new for bitFlyer to consider. Japan has one set of regulations. The United States has fifty plus, and Shaw and her team keeps track of them–one by one.

Shaw doesn’t have a typical day or week, and that’s how she likes it. She’s excited about the future and can’t wait to begin her day’s work. 

“I put 110% into everything,” she says. bitFlyer has chosen a passionate, empathetic, and talented leader in Shaw–one who is optimistic and impassioned about the future of crypto and finance. 

In the short-term, she plans to focus on innovation, growing the US operations, regulatory compliance, process improvement, and the optimization of the DeFi framework at large. 


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