If you are a cryptocurrency trader or investor in Singapore, chances are you will most likely come across Gemini, which is dubbed one of the top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
While the company was launched in New York back in 2014 by the famous Winklevoss twins, Gemini set up a physical shop here in Singapore back in 2020.
Helmed by Jeremy Ng, the managing director of Gemini in Asia Pacific, Gemini Singapore has grown to a team of 30 in less than a year. The team is currently looking to hire more people to join the company.
The fast growth of Gemini in Singapore is a further testament to the interest in the cryptocurrency industry over the past few years. Similar to Coinhako and Tokocrypto we previously covered, Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange which allows users to easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
Growth and focus of Gemini
According to Jeremy, as of the end of May, Gemini is one of the largest fiat-to-crypto exchanges in Singapore, based on official data from payment gateway Xfers.
Xfers is one of the only payment gateway which local Singaporeans can use to transfer their Singapore dollars to cryptocurrency exchanges in order to purchase any cryptocurrencies.
Claiming the number one exchange spot is no easy feat, especially since Gemini is among the 300-odd companies applying for a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to operate legally here.
To ensure that it remains in its top position in the competitive cryptocurrency industry in Singapore, Gemini focuses on two target segment groups: the retail customers, as well as institutional adoption.
While there are a lot of room for improvement in terms of retail adoption in Singapore, Jeremy and the Gemini team is doubling down on their efforts to increase institutional adoption here.
“On the institutional side, that’s something that we are very focused on. We have hired a team of ex-institutional bankers to help grow the business, and we have been seeing a strong demand there from institutions. We know that they want to work with a partner that is properly regulated and compliant to the local regulations,” said Jeremy.
“We also want to be the number one player in the institutional space, because if you look at who the institutions can work with, that space becomes more narrow because many do not wish to trade on unregulated exchanges.”
Crypto is all about regulations in Singapore
One of the many things we spoke to Jeremy about was with regards to the cryptocurrency regulation in Singapore.
Coming from the traditional finance background, where Jeremy spent his past 20 years in regulatory compliance, is a big factor in his decision to join Gemini.
In 2020, MAS passed the Payment Services Act (PSA) and it was during that time that the cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Singapore realised that they need to set up a shop here in Singapore if they want to continue operating.
“Among all the exchanges, I felt like Gemini is the closest fit in terms of what I was looking for in the way it was set up — Gemini is highly regulatory compliant. The co-founders — Cameron and Tyler — take a very long-term approach and they want to build a company that is high on security and high in regulatory compliance, and it fits into my background, so it’s time for me to move over to crypto,” Jeremy told Vulcan Post.
In Singapore, along with 300 other companies vying for the official cryptocurrency license by MAS, Gemini is hopeful that they will be the first batch of license recipients.
“We have had several interviews and correspondence with MAS, and we have responded to all their queries,” said Jeremy.
“Our Chief Compliance Officer came from Morgan Stanley and he was the legal head for the investment bank’s global financial crimes division in the Asia Pacific region for five years, so we have a strong team to give some comfort to the regulators.”
Jeremy also stressed that it all comes down to regulation in Singapore, and he is hopeful the regulator here is moving in the right direction.
What we are seeing is that the MAS is actively reaching out to the industry players. Temasek is actively investing and DBS recently set up their own digital asset exchange, so we know that there is a lot of tailwind that is going to come to push cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore.– Jeremy Ng, managing director of Gemini APAC
In 2020, PSA came into effect to regulate cryptocurrency payments and exchanges.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) also released a new e-tax guide for different kinds of digital tokens. Later on, MAS also made the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) applicable to issues of digital tokens and released a new guide to Digital Token Offerings.
“That gives assurances to companies trying to set up a base here in Singapore, and we come in with 100% commitment to grow the business here. To us, regulation is what is going to drive deeper adoption, whether it is retail or institutional adoption,” Jeremy shared with Vulcan Post.
What is hindering cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore?
When asked about what is hindering more cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore, Jeremy shared that there are three key factors.
First is the volatility of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency as an asset class is still relatively young and with that, comes a certain amount of volatility. As the asset class matures, volatility will dampen and in fact, the cryptocurrency volatility have reduced over the last five years.
The second thing would be the negative perception some might have on cryptocurrencies.
Despite the fact that we are seeing such an increase in both consumer and institutional adoption, many people still have negative connotations with bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.
The notorious and somewhat misleading headlines crypto is making the news, can be misunderstood by the average consumer, causing bad perception and overall public sentiment.
The third and perhaps the largest roadblock, would be the risk of scams involved in the space. Not all exchanges are made equal and not everyone is playing by the rules.
“With that being said, there has been increasing regulatory oversight which I encourage and stand by. I do think increased regulation will lead to more stability and investor protection in the long run,” noted Jeremy.
NFTs, DeFi and the future of blockchain technology
For cryptocurrencies native or followers, it may be hard to keep up with all the developments that are happening in the fast-moving industry.
There is a saying that if one thinks that the technology industry is innovating too fast, the blockchain industry is moving 10 times faster than that.
For Jeremy, the two most exciting developments in the cryptocurrency space now is the development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as well as the development in the decentralised finance (DeFi) space.
Explaining the DeFi development, Jeremy shared that given his background from the traditional finance space, he knows how finance intermediaries generate revenue.
“In traditional finance, you need them (the bank) to act as intermediaries, but at the end of the day, we are completely dependent on a centralised platform. But with DeFi, we can build a new banking, trading, or lending platform that is completely independent from any one centralised body, hence democratising finance. And that is something very exciting.”
“If you compare traditional finance and DeFi, it is actually quite amazing. In 2008, we saw the market crash for traditional finance. The financial system crashed and because the system cannot handle the crash, it needed to be bailed out. If there wasn’t any financial bail out from the government back in 2008, the whole financial system would be gone.”
“In DeFi however, look at the recent crash — there are no defaults. It worked exactly how it should, the automated margin calls, the leverage, nothing breaks; and that is very powerful.”
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Featured Image Credit: Gemini / South China Morning Post