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Tokenize Xchange founder on having an early start in crypto and becoming a millionaire by 31

Hong Qi Yu

A ‘crypto bull’ is not your usual animal. It arrives without warning and escapes from your clutches before you can finish saying the word ‘cryptocurrency’.

Crypto is often viewed as an unpredictable industry, as seen by how attention grabbing news have been circulating this spectrum in recent years.

We also often revere in reading stories of people who have made it with crypto, as it gives us a peek into a tangible lifestyle created by something that cannot be seen, felt, or heard.

Today, we got the opportunity to speak to 31-year-old Hong Qi Yu, CEO of Singapore crypto exchange Tokenize Xchange, who in many ways actually mirrors the normal man on the street.

NTU graduate, worked as engineer and coder

When Qi Yu was 18, he took up an electronic and communication engineering Diploma course at Singapore Polytechnic. He then went on to Nanyang Technological University to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical and electronics engineering.

After graduating, Qi Yu worked various engineering and coder jobs at Atos, TransPerfect, and Bambu for almost three years.

Hong Qi Yu / Image Credit: Bloconomic

His seemingly normal life was then changed in 2016, where he was exposed to the cryptocurrency Ethereum when he was a coder for a local FinTech firm. Since then, life has been a dramatic “rags to riches” whirlwind.

“I dove down the crypto rabbit hole…back then, the digital assets industry was in its infancy. There were not many platforms available for me to accept fiat, and fees were really high, thus I founded Tokenize Xchange to allow the mass market to access digital assets in a frictionless manner.”

Image Credit: JustCo

“Together with a team of passionate crypto and blockchain enthusiasts, we found a need for a safe and secure platform with competitive fees and an SGD-based order book for digital assets,” he said.

Passionate team a key factor for biz’s success

Qi Yu counts his team of passionate crypto and blockchain enthusiasts the reason why his business is where it is today: Over 50 cryptocurrencies listed, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Solana (SOL), and Polkadot (DOT). The exchange has grown to close to 200,000 users globally in just five years.

In a nutshell, Tokenize Xchange is a centralised exchange platform that utilises trusted custodial solutions. It offers both fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto pairings and has both SGD and United States dollar (USD) markets. It is currently operating under exemption by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Payment Services Act.

“In terms of volume and liquidity, I believe Tokenize Xchange is within the top two Singapore dollar (SGD) order book exchanges. I would consider ourselves to be a medium-sized crypto exchange. However, our goal is to become the go to fiat on/off-ramp for digital assets in Southeast Asia.”

Although the business is unable to share its total value of assets, Qi Yu said that its own crypto token TKX has recently hit a market cap of US$1 billion – the second token in Singapore to achieve this – suggesting that it’s a force to reckon with.

Early start an advantage

The founder admits that the business’ early start in crypto has helped it focus on building its products and infrastructure way before others joined, and that has allowed its user base to access more products with low fees, which proves to be a selling point to customers. “This has culminated in the doubling of our user base from 2020 to 2021,” said Qi Yu.

Tokenize Xchange’s trading page / Image Credit: Tokenize Xchange

Like many companies, Tokenize Xchange also felt the brunt of Covid-19. “The inability to hold live events and workshops to educate and engage our users during the pandemic has definitely hampered our outreach efforts,” said Qi Yu. 

“However, we mitigate this by hosting regular webinars and podcasts on topics such as outlook sessions on crypto and equities, streaming sessions with Axie Infinity, or introductory sessions to Tokenize Xchange, to cater to the wide range of interests of our users.”

Crypto millionaire bullish on Bitcoin

Giving his personal view, Qi Yu said he’s still “very bullish on Bitcoin for this year and the next”. “I hope we will be able to see a six digit Bitcoin by 2022.”

Although Qi Yu did not disclose his net worth, based on his physical assets, he’s most certainly a millionaire. He bought his current condominium as well as his Tesla car, with the money made from crypto. A condominium usually starts from S$1 million while a Tesla car including taxes, usually costs S$150,000.

Hong Qi Yu (centre) at an event / Image Credit: DigitalNewsAsia

When probed on the types of crypto he holds, Qi Yu said: “In my portfolio, I mostly hold ETH, DOT, and our exchange token TKX.”

Commenting on the evolving crypto landscape as someone who’s been participating in the industry for some time, he believes that playing the long game will be the way to go for investors.

“Crypto is here to stay, but we will gradually move towards a regulated crypto landscape as regulators start to get more involved. Investing in cryptocurrency is like investing in tech stocks such as Google and Amazon back when both firms were listed in the stock market. I personally feel we are still in an early phase for crypto trading and it can be a long-term opportunity,” he said.

As for his business, there are no plans in slowing down and it’s only getting started. “Having rode through the bear market in 2018 and 2019, we have definitely come a long way. We are currently looking at growing our team, and plan to expand to other markets in the region.”

Featured Image Credit: DigitalNewsAsia, Economic Times

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