At 33 years young, Masamitsu Hirai is part of a new crop of idiosyncratic fintech leaders branching out from the Land of the Rising Sun. His minimalist approach to investment banking has created new spaces for private investors to participate in the global exchange of value. Now he is sure he can bring transparency and expertise to the budding cryptocurrency market via his investment firm Blackstar Group.
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Hirai was born in the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan in 1984 and relocated to Tokyo at a young age to study business. Despite having competitive skills in baseball, he went straight into investment banking after completing his degree at the renowned Hosei University.
Later on, his experiences as a young fund manager at Funai Soken Holdings and director at BS Investments Ltd. gave him the necessary acumen to start his own ventures.
A brief hospitalization in his twenties led Hirai to adopt the traditional Japanese credo of minimalism into his work ethic. For him, minimalism is a path to efficiency in both his professional and personal life.
In a recent interview with GQ he remembers a time when working overtime for 200 hours a month was commonplace for him, placing a toll on his health. Now, Hirai reflects on the resulting medical intervention as a turning point. It made him realize the importance of matching hard work with efficiency, a goal that Hirai sets onto all of his ventures.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks at Bullion Japan
In February 2015 Hirai became CEO of Bullion Japan, where he brought fresh ideas to traditional finance. Under his leadership, the firm became a pioneer in gold trading for individuals thanks to a collaboration with British internet services. Bullion helped lower the barriers for private investors to participate in the conservative asset class, opening a field which was once closed.
His contributions to the old space made him realize there were similar opportunities for efficiency using new technologies. Hirai saw the potential in blockchain for greater transparency in gold trading and other assets. According to his vision, the next step for Bullion was “to establish a gold trading system using blockchains, which is the basic technology used for virtual currency, at the beginning of the year of 2018.”
Cryptocurrencies and Blackstar Group
More recently, Hirai founded Blackstar Group to delve deeper into the new financial instruments created by blockchain technology. His innovative work at Bullion gave him the appropriate insights to connect the new with the old. Now at Blackstar, Hirai and the team believe cryptocurrencies are a way to provide individuals with greater financial freedom and add transparency to their investments.
The firm consists of a team of experts in banking, law, and engineering who are dedicated to building better spaces within the new field. With their respective knowledge and know-how, they aim to build the necessary tools to make cryptocurrencies more accessible to private investors.
The first of these tools developed by Blackstar Group is Spindle. A project that consists of a matchmaking platform, ZETA, that connects private investors with cryptocurrency hedge funds through the use of its Spindle token (SPD).
Spindle reflects Hirai’s own insights into minimalism and efficiency by providing individuals with a channel into cryptocurrencies that is both safe and easy. The ZETA platform is designed to be completely transparent, in a way that was impossible before the integration of blockchain technology into asset management.
Users of the new platform will have access to investment information that is guaranteed by smart contracts before deciding where their funds are placed. These tamper-proof records will allow any user to buy “investment ideas” and examine the history, plans, and performance of a whole cadre of cryptocurrency hedge funds on the ZETA platform. Private investors will only need to purchase SPD tokens and their funds will be allocated by the best performing asset managers of their choosing.
With Spindle, Hirai and Blackstar Group are making transparency and expertise available to any individual who is interested in cryptocurrency investment. The platform creates a space for anyone to do smart investments, regardless of their background.