Why these successful S’pore entrepreneurs joined blockchain-themed True Global Ventures Fund

Over the past two years, as the blockchain and crypto industry matures, there are more and more funds moving into the space. One such fund is True Global Ventures (TGV).

Most recently, TGV announced that its closed True Global Ventures 4 Plus (TGV 4 Plus) Fund — which invests in blockchain equity — was oversubscribed, surpassing its US$100 million target.

The fund is dedicated to invest into the equity of blockchain companies run by serial entrepreneurs, primarily in late-stage Series B and C (between US$3 million to US$10 million per investment) across four verticals: entertainment, infrastructure, financial services, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

While blockchain-themed investment funds are not uncommon, what’s interesting about the TGV fund is that serial entrepreneurs in Singapore are joining the fund. For TGV, the investment fund counts Kelly Choo and Lim Qing Ru amongst others as partners of the fund.

Kelly is known in the Singapore startup scene as the co-founder of Brandtology, which was acquired by Isentia; while Qing Ru is known for co-founding Zopim, which her team exited to Zendesk. Both Kelly and Qing Ru are also actively investing and contributing to the Singapore startup community.

Other than Kelly and Qing Ru, the fund also counts Beatrice Lion, PropertyGuru co-founder Jani Rautiainen, Chief Data Innovation Officer at Bank of Singapore Celine Lecotonnec, Executive Director at Phillip Securities Pte Ltd Luke Lim, and former Managing Director of LinkedIn Asia Pacific Olivier Legrand, as partners of the fund.

With plenty of opportunities for both Kelly and Qing Ru to deploy their resources, why did both of them choose TGV?

Decentralised venture capital fund structure

For those familiar with the blockchain industry, one major draw is that blockchain technology allows for decentralisation.

Following a similar ethos, TGV takes a decentralised governance approach, where for each capital to be deployed into any project, two-third of the partners within each investment vertical have to say yes.

Hence, the fund takes a very distributed approach where partners of different backgrounds can have a say about the project.

Beyond that, TGV also prides themselves as a fund which focuses on the need of their portfolio founders, hence all TGV partners should have operating background.

lim qing ru
Lim Qing Ru / Image Credit: NUS Arts and Social Sciences

“We always have mutual respect for fellow entrepreneurs who have built and exited their company. I personally do not know of any funds where the other partners are also ex-entrepreneurs. We speak the same language — we prioritise the needs of the entrepreneurs first, and there is a lot of empathy when it comes to the problem that they face,” shared Qing Ru when asked why she decided to deploy her capital and time into TGV.

“One thing that really struck out to me when Kelly and Dusan approached me, was that they really do what they say. As I got more involved with TGV, I realised that the partners take a very hands-on approach in helping the portfolio companies. For portfolios in the company, we hold regular virtual events where our companies are exposed to the combined network of the various TGV partners.”

Crystal-balling the future

The TGV 4 Plus fund has invested in five companies to date:

  • Animoca Brands, unicorn global market leader in “Play-to-Earn” blockchain gaming and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Forge Global, global market leader in secondary private markets
  • The Sandbox, global market leader in gaming metaverse
  • Canada Computational Unlimited, Bitcoin mining company with 100 per cent renewable energy
  • QuantumRock, AI asset management market leader

kelly choo
Kelly Choo / Image Credit: Kelly Choo via Twitter

For Kelly Choo, who is looking at the blockchain entertainment space for the TGV fund, he sees a lot of opportunity in blockchain bringing financial services to the unbanked world.

“If I could offer some personal crystal-balling, the play to earn space is actually blowing up now. There are many people who are getting into play-to-earn game like Axie Infinity and Sandbox,” shared Kelly.

“What happens is that since the players are very incentivised to play the game to earn a living, they will inevitably get a digital wallet to store their digital assets. Companies like Axie or Sandbox can actually act a “bank” and there are plenty of opportunities to add financial products to their services.”

“These includes things like insurance, credit card, loans — anything that the users cannot access in the past because the users are considered unbanked or un-creditworthy. Suddenly, this whole world is now opened to them if there is a new offering around the digital assets in their wallet,” added Kelly.

true global venture partners
TGV partners speaking to Vulcan Post

Beyond just banking the unbanked, TGV partner Beatrice Lion is excited about how blockchain is able to create a true global digital identity.

“From a digital identity point of view, everyone is looking at how you can verify this identity given that everyone is anonymous on the chain. You need to have privacy-preserving verification, especially when it comes to cross-border verification.”

The problem with the current global identification is that each country has its own identification system. For example, we have Singpass in Singapore and in Sweden, your bank ID tied to your passport can be used as a method of identification.

Between borders however, there are no infrastructure that supports the verification of all identities with true credibility.

“With blockchain, the technology is possible because you can remain anonymous and at the same time have your identity data hashed onto the blockchain and have it verified for authenticity,” shared Beatrice.

With the growing recognition of blockchain equity as an asset class, TGV plans for more equity funding rounds, following the TGV 4 Plus Fund launch.

TGV 4 Plus’ 40 partners contributed 27 per cent of the fund, together with entrepreneurs, business angels, family offices and institutional investors, many with co-investment rights in future equity rounds.

The partners help portfolio companies with commercial relationships, investment promotions, introductions to VCs, loans, and private equity firms for refinancing, and company acquisitions and exits.

Over the next decade, as global companies compete to become winner in this technology war, TGV seems like a good venture partner to have behind one’s arsenal.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


From 1 July 2021, Vulcan Post’s premium articles will be hidden behind a paywall. Subscribers will be able to enjoy exclusive articles with a deeper level of coverage and insight on verticals that include government technology, electric vehicles, cryptocurrency and e-commerce. You can check out our premium articles here and subscribe to us here.


Featured Image Credit: NUS Arts and Social Sciences / Beatrice Lion via Twitter / Kelly Choo via Twitter / PropertyGuru Group / True Global Ventures

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Also Read: Meet Darius Sit of QCP Capital, the godfather of Singapore’s crypto trading industry

S’pore collectibles maker XM Studios raises S$4.5M in deal anchored by Temasek’s Heliconia

Singapore’s pop culture collectibles maker XM Studios has raised S$4.5 million in a token offering on investment platform ADDX.

Anchored by Temasek’s Heliconia Capital, the deal is the first equity-linked investment offered on ADDX.

The offer was 1.75 times oversubscribed from the firm’s initial fundraising target. The deal size was increased by S$1.5 million to S$4.5 million.

The minimum investment size for the XM Studios deal was S$10,000, down from the S$1 million minimum size typical for such investments, said ADDX and XM Studios in a joint statement.

Image Credit: XM Studios

Heliconia anchored the deal with a S$1 million investment and the round also saw global accredited investors taking part.

The tokenised offering on ADDX took the form of exchangeable notes redeemable for shares in XM Studios, at a significant discount. The notes will mature at an interest rate of six per cent per annum if not redeemed within 18 months.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTwdVnzvp74/

Funds to seize new opportunities, XM Studios eye IPO

“The new capital enables XM Studios to seize opportunities in the next phase of our expansion – in new markets and new segments like premium mass collectibles, allowing fans to buy their favourite collectibles at a more affordable price range,” said co-founder and CEO of XM Studios Ben Ang.

Before the latest fund raise, Heliconia scooped up a 9.2 per cent stake in XM Studios through secondary transaction of shares, according to regulatory filings.

Image Credit: XM Studios, ADDX

XM Studios told The Business Times that it is mulling a public listing, and the Singapore Exchange is one of its potential choices.

From a humble hobby shop in Bras Basah to global brand

XM Studios started from a humble hobby shop in Bras Basah Complex in 1997. It was run by the Ang brothers.

Today, it is a global brand with distribution in 18 markets.

Image Credit: XM Studios

The company is allowed to make collectible statues from popular comic brands like Marvel, Star Wars, DC, Transformers, and Sanrio thanks to its hold over 12 licences.

The collectibles are priced from under S$1,000 to S$6,000 each.

XM Studios reported double in revenue last year to S$16.9 million, from S$7.9 million in 2019. It also took home a profit of S$4.2 milliion.

Featured Image Credit: XM Studios

Also Read: Not toying around: S’pore startup Mighty Jaxx raises US$10M in Tencent-led funding round

These 10 self-made tech tycoons worked their way up and are now S’pore’s 50 richest

The birth of the tech era, this might be what historians will call the 2000s in the future. 

On the Forbes Singapore’s 50 richest list released in August, one-fifth or 20 per cent of the list members are self-made tech tycoons.

Notably, the pandemic has led to a mass consumption of digital goods and services, supporting tech-driven industries such as gaming, ride-hailing, and e-commerce. Singapore’s efforts to foster a culture of innovation to groom startups over the past decades have also paid off.

Here are 10 tycoons who are born with equal opportunities and depended on their wit and tenacity to make it big to be among Singapore’s top 50 richest people:

Forrest Li, Gang Ye, and David Chen, co-founders of gaming and e-commerce firm Sea

The trio are the biggest gainers in percentage in wealth this year, compared to last year. They have more than doubled their individual wealth.

Left to Right: Forrest Li, Gang Ye, David Chen / Image Credit: Sea

Collectively, the Sea trio have a combined wealth of US$29.3 billion, that’s a whopping 133 per cent increase from a year ago’s US$12.6 billion, according to the Forbes Singapore’s richest list released last month.

CEO and co-founder of Sea, Forrest Li takes the icing on the cake, with the highest net worth of US$15.9 billion, followed by COO and co-founder Gang Ye at US$10.3 billion, and Chief Product Officer and co-founder David Chen at US$3.1 billion. In another report from Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Li was said to have a net worth of US$18.1 billion.

Ye and Chen arrived in Singapore when they were in their teens under a government effort to recruit foreign talent through scholarship programmes.

Ye went to Hwa Chong Institution and then to Raffles Junior College before going overseas to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science while Chen studied Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore. 

Li, who was born and raised in China’s port city of Tianjin, followed his wife to Singapore after completing an MBA at Stanford University. He earned an Engineering degree from Shanghai Jiaotong University. Before setting up Sea, Li had worked in multiple companies like Motorola Solutions, Corning Inc, and MTV Network.

Little did they know that their adopted city would lead them to create thousands of jobs and generate wealth for themselves and the economy.

The founders started the company in 2009, and Li roped in Ye and Chen. Garena, short for Global Arena, is an online games developer and publisher.

Image Credit: Sea Limited

According to Li, their big break only came in 2010 when they secured a distribution licence in Southeast Asia with US game developer Riot Games, which had just released League of Legends at the time.

It helped Garena turn profitable within the next two years, and opened doors of opportunities for them to secure other game titles.

That was also how the company gained the attention of Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, which is the majority owner of Riot Games.

Garena went on to develop popular mobile games like Free Fire, which hit 150 million daily active users in the second quarter of 2021.

Sea also owns e-commerce platform Shopee which is currently the top e-commerce marketplace in Singapore. Shopee was launched in 2015.

Sea is currently backed by Tencent and is listed in New York.

There are more than 3,000 Sea employees in Singapore.

Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, investor

Eduardo Saverin is best known as the co-founder of Facebook. The 39-year-old is now a venture capitalist, but still derives most of his wealth from his small stake in the tech giant. His net worth is at US$20.5 billion.

Image Credit: Forbes

Saverin has been a Singapore resident since renouncing his US citizenship in 2012 ahead of Facebook’s public listing.

Originally born in Brazil, he attended Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami before attending Harvard University. He met fellow Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg during his junior year in the school and the two of them worked together to launch Facebook in 2004.

Saverin held the role of CFO and business manager during Facebook’s early days. It is said that he was cut off from Facebook and his stake was diluted due to Zuckerberg. Both parties managed to settle their differences in a settlement in 2009 in an undisclosed agreement.

Saverin signed a non-disclosure contract in the Facebook settlement.

In 2015, Saverin launched venture fund B Capital, with BCG and Bain Capital veteran Raj Ganguly to invest in Southeast Asia and India. The fund has $1.4 billion of assets under management.

Anthony Tan, co-founder and CEO of Grab

Anthony Tan is the CEO and co-founder of Southeast Asia’s dominant ride-hailing app, Grab.

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Tan knew that he wanted to be a businessman from the age of six. His first venture was trading a good number of comic books that his parents bought for him from a Comics Convention in Singapore.

The 39-year-old has a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University and obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Tan got inspired to start Grab during his time at Harvard Business School. He then decided to quit the family business in 2012 to run Grab. He is the son of Tan Heng Chew, the president of Tan Chong Motor.

He started the taxi-hailing service – known as My Teksi then – with Harvard classmate Tan Hooi Ling.

Fast forward to today, Grab offers services in eight countries and has branched out into motorcycle taxis, delivery services, and software research and development.

The tech giant is working on listing on the public market via a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC deal as soon as the end of this year. The deal is set to value the company at S$54 billion (US$40 billion).

Anthony is listed on Forbes as a Singapore Citizen. The entrepreneur recently made the news with a purchase of a good class bungalow near Holland Village for S$40 million.

Forbes listed his net worth to be at US$790 million.

Tan Min Liang, co-founder and CEO of Razer

43-year-old Min-Liang Tan gave up a law career in Singapore to start gaming devices company Razer in 2005.

Image Credit: Razer

Tan is the youngest of four children in his family. His father is a real estate consultant while his mother is a homemaker. He has a Masters of Laws from the National University of Singapore.

Prior to founding Razer, Tan was an advocate and solicitor for the Supreme Court of Singapore. In 1999, Tan and Robert Krakoff met and worked together to design the world’s first gaming mouse.

They launched the Razer brand in 2005 and over the years, the company has acquired a huge global following and sold millions of gaming laptops, mice, fitness bands, and tablets.

Following the launch of Razer’s first smartphone, Tan listed the firm in Hong Kong in November 2017, raising US$529 million.

The IPO then made him the youngest self-made Singaporean billionaire at the age of 40.

Tan also recently made the news with the purchase of a good class bungalow at Bukit Timah area for S$50 million.

Tan’s current net worth is at US$755 million.

Zhao Changpeng, founder and CEO of Binance

45-year-old Zhao Changpeng goes by the nickname “CZ”, and is the founder and CEO of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

Image Credit: Zhao Changpeng

He grew up in Jiangsu, China, and both his parents were educators. Shortly after Zhao was born, his father who was a professor was labelled a “pro-bourgeois intellect” and the family was exiled from the country.

When Zhao was a teenager, he flipped burgers at McDonald’s and worked overnight shifts at a gas station.

After graduating from his Computer Science studies at Montreal’s McGill University, he spent time in both Tokyo and New York to develop trading systems for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Bloomberg’s Tradebook.

He did well at the company and was in fact promoted thrice in less than two years, but he ended up quitting the job in 2005. He then moved to Shanghai to start up his own trading system company, Fusion Systems.

He later founded Binance in 2017, which is now a major player in the crypto-verse.

Zhao is temporarily based in Singapore. Binance has been facing regulatory scrutiny in several countries, and Zhao has said that he is working with the authorities for the betterment of the cryptocurrency industry.

Recently, Binance.com was ordered by Singapore’s central bank to stop trading payment options in SGD in compliance with local regulations.

His net worth, as of the month of August, was at US$1.9 billion.

Teo Swee Ann, founder and CEO of Espressif

The 46-year-old is the CEO of China-based Espressif Systems. Since he was eight years old, Teo has been tinkering with computers and showed a passion for technology.

Image Credit: Espressif

The locally educated entrepreneur went to Hwa Chong Junior College before he studied for an Electrical Engineering degree at the National University of Singapore from 1996 to 1999. He then subsequently took a Masters in Electrical Engineering in the same university from 1999 to 2000.

Teo worked in many engineering jobs for companies like Transilica, Marvell Semiconductor, and Montage Technology before the electrical engineering graduate founded Espressif in 2008. 

Espressif manufactures the flagship ESP32 series of chips and software, as well as other cutting-edge WiFi and Bluetooth integrated devices and solutions.

Since 2017, the brand has ranked first in the Wi-Fi MCU market and has been listed in Forbes’ 20 IoT ranking as one of the most innovative firms.

The company’s flagship ESP32 chips now power goods such as speakers, wearable devices, and home appliances.

In July 2019, Espressif sold 25 per cent of its shares in a public listing that valued the company at US$716 million.

Teo is currently listed on Forbes with a net worth of US$1.55 billion.

Binny Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart, investor

The former Amazon executive teamed up with friend Sachin Bansal in 2007 to found Flipkart as an online seller of books.

Image Credit: Arindom Chowdhury

They pooled US$6,000 of their combined savings and operated out of their apartment.

Bansal has a Bachelor of Science Engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology. Flipkart grew over the years to become India’s leading e-commerce marketplace offering millions of products from categories including books, media, and consumer electronics.

After 11 years of toiling, Walmart bought a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart in 2018 for US$16 billion in what was the largest deal for an internet company then.

Bansal has retained a small stake in Flipkart and now mentors startups from Singapore through his firm xto10x Technologies.

In 2019, Bansal relocated to Singapore to offer a good quality of life for his twin sons. He also chose the country because it is an ideal location for his act as a venture capitalist.

He is also an anchor investor in venture firm O21 Capital, which focuses on biotech, agri-tech, and internet startups.

Bansal has invested in more than 40 ventures, such as Indian fintech Acko, US-headquartered AI firm GreyOrange, and Singapore-based software outfit Mobikon.

His current net worth is at US$1.25 billion.

Shi Xu, founder of NanoFilm Technologies

A former professor, 57-year-old Shi Xu founded Nanofilm Technologies International in 1999 with a start-up capital of US$225,000.

Image Credit: NTU

The company produces advanced coating materials and nanotechnology-based solutions used in electronic devices such as smartphones.

Xu and his wife moved to Singapore from China in 1991. His wife Jin Xiao Qun, is currently an assistant vice president at the company.

He was an Associate Professor at the Nanyang Technological University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which provided seed funding to NanoFilm.

Xu had to deal with difficulties and setbacks during the initial commercialisation of the company’s innovative technologies. To solve all the different issues, he had to take a salary cut for years.

After a tumultuous and challenging beginning, the business started stabalising and picking up. In 2020, Xu listed the company on the Singapore Exchange.

Since then shares have roughly doubled on rising earnings and revenues—boosting Nanofilm’s market cap to S$4.3 billion.

Xu holds a net worth of US$1.8 billion.

More tech bosses to join ‘rich list’ as Singapore’s tech industry accelerates further

The pandemic has fuelled an increasing appetite for technology as the number of internet users continues to grow.

In fact, as the pandemic is not showing signs of abating, people are going to rely even more on technology goods and services for their everyday lives, especially for gaming, video streaming, e-commerce, and financial services.

Singapore startups will tap on their capabilities and strength in Singapore, their home ground, and launch their businesses into regional markets.

Image Credit: Wallpaperflare

According to Golden Gate Ventures, deal activities in Southeast Asia continue to be led by Singapore, followed by Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The region’s internet economy is set to grow by three times to reach US$309 billion by 2025, from US$105 billion in 2020, according to a report by Google, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, and business consultants Bain & Co.

Last year, 40 million new internet users were added, bringing the Southeast Asia’s total internet users to 400 million. There’s still room to grow, as only 70 per cent of the region’s population is online.

Featured Image Credit: Forbes, Sea, Grab, Peatix, Razer, Binance, NanoFilm

Also Read: Grab and Binance founder among new entrants to Forbes’ 2021 list of top 50 richest in S’pore

Meet Darius Sit of QCP Capital, the godfather of Singapore’s crypto trading industry

darius sit qcp capital

People outside the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry would find Darius Sit as an unfamiliar face. Inside crypto circles however, the 33-year-old is seen as the godfather of crypto trading in Singapore.

His company, QCP Capital, which was founded in 2017, is now one of the world’s largest crypto trading companies with over US$1.5 billion in assets deployed.

On top of that, QCP, through its venture arm QSN, is an early investor in many blockchain companies including Axie Infinity, FTX, Synthetix, AAVE (ETHLend), YFI, Deribit, Avalanche, DYDX, Algorand, Tokocrypto, and Nansen AI — all of which have now grown into global powerhouses in the crypto industry.

The impressive part is the fact that the homegrown company has achieved all of this with only their initial seed capital and without any external funding.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTl1P9GHMWo/

Graduating with a business degree from the National University of Singapore, Darius took on a different career path than most of his peers. It is common for finance graduates to start their careers in a bank to learn the ropes before going to a hedge fund, but Darius immediately started out at Dymon Asia, one of the largest hedge funds at the time.

“It was extremely important for me to start at Dymon Asia. At a bank, I would have been tied to a specific trading desk and made to specialise,” Darius told Vulcan Post, recounting the early days of his career.

“Whereas at Dymon, I had the chance to learn everything across the board. I was on the execution desk and also managing a book, trading everything from foreign exchange (FX), commodities, to interest rates and equities, and it was a very good training in terms of the breadth of skills and exposure to different financial asset classes.”

He eventually left Dymon to join international banking group BNP Paribas, which saw him moving to New York to manage the FX Asia Group there. At the bank, Darius had more time on hand and that was when he came across cryptocurrency and started trading them.

“My first foray into crypto was arbritrage trading. We were doing 30 to 60 per cent arbs in decent sizes and I was making much more money than my actual job. So in 2017, I decided to come back to Singapore to start QCP Capital,” he shared.

How QCP Capital started out

Darius Sit, co-founder of QCP Capital
Darius Sit, co-founder of QCP Capital / Image Credit: Darius Sit

QCP Capital started as a two-man proprietary trading shop, where they trade cryptocurrencies using their own money instead of clients’ money. This way, they are able to earn the full profits from their trade rather than just commission from clients.

As QCP Capital amassed their asset base, the company quickly evolved into an over-the-counter (OTC) trading shop, where they help high net worth individuals trade cryptocurrencies.

QCP was the first local player back in 2017 doing OTC trades focusing on high net worth individuals, and we started to be involved in market making for projects and exchanges. We also started to specialise in Asia and market making for crypto spot in Singapore Dollars, Malaysia Ringgit, Indonesia Rupiah, Thai Baht and more.

– Darius Sit, founder of QCP Capital

What that meant was that traders would come directly to QCP Capital to exchange their real-world currencies into cryptocurrencies.

QCP Capital’s specialisation in Asia also meant that they have deep connections and partnerships with exchanges all over Asia. They are also one of the owners of Tokocrypto, Indonesia’s largest cryptocurrency exchange that’s founded by fellow Singaporean Pang Xue Kai.

As spot trading became more competitive with more players coming to the space, Darius started to look for opportunities in other markets.

I’m a derivatives trader, so when I was looking at the business and thinking about the future, I saw that no one was trading derivatives such as options and forwards because it was a very small part of the market. We decided to focus on that opportunity, because there was a significant need for options in the crypto space and the market would grow exponentially.

– Darius Sit, founder of QCP Capital

That decision proved to be the growth inflection point for QCP Capital. Fast forward to today, QCP Capital runs a US$2 billion book and is one of the top crypto options trading firms in the world.

“We are market leaders in this segment. Folks come to us for large sizes and we also provide pricing in altcoin options and exotics. That’s something that I’m quite proud of — being a Singaporean firm that has become a global leader in the crypto derivative space,” added Darius.

“More recently, we have been dominating in decentralized finance (DeFi) options as well. We provide most of the liquidity in all DeFi options, and I think there is a big future there as well.”

Paving the way for S’pore to become a crypto hub

While many companies are focusing on driving their business agenda and profits, few are actively driving the industry forward.

In 2019, Darius worked with Leng Hoe Lon, Simon Nursey and a few others, to launch a global crypto industry initiative called Crypto OTC Roundtable Asia (CORA). This was an attempt to gather all global institutional crypto players to discuss and arrive at an understanding on how crypto settlements can be done.

Crypto OTC Roundtable Asia
Image Credit: CORA

This is important because in traditional banking, there are known settlement mechanisms. For example, trades are settled in a T+2 timeframe for FX, but there is no such common standard for crypto.

We gathered all the major players in the OTC space such as Alameda (FTX), Galaxy, Genesis, DRW Cumberland, Three Arrows and OSL, and there was an effort to set some trading settlement guidelines. There were subsequent meetings too and CORA became a meeting point for the “institutional crypto industry”.

I am very proud because this was a Singapore-led effort, and Singapore is now the main crypto trading hub of the world, where literally every trading shop is setting up base here.

– Darius Sit, founder of QCP Capital

MAS is on the right track to help regulate crypto

For crypto companies in Singapore, most are familiar with the Payment Services Act (PSA) which regulates the crypto industry here.

Image Credit: Sygna Bridge

While the Act has been established in 2019, only a few licenses have been recently approved to operate legally in Singapore, which sets some wondering why the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has taken so long to come up with a proper framework with regards to cryptocurrency regulation.

Commenting on MAS’ regulatory effort, Darius only had good things to say.

I think MAS knows exactly what they are doing, and they are doing a very good job contrary to what other people believe.

What people don’t actually know is that Singapore has become the crypto wealth capital of the world. A lot of crypto volume is actually flowing through Singapore. MAS has done this is by balancing clarity and time, because the fact is that no one has a silver bullet for crypto regulation; so what MAS has done successfully is provide clear guidance while the regulatory landscape develops.

– Darius Sit, founder of QCP Capital

Darius went on to draw a comparison between the regulation here in Singapore and Hong Kong — the key difference between the two is that MAS has been “providing clarity”.

“MAS has set guidelines on what you can or cannot do, and in that regard, Singapore actually has the clearest regulation around the world, compared to Hong Kong where they adopt an “opt in” kind of regulation. The results are very telling — all the key crypto players are congregating here in Singapore,” he explained.

MAS’ effort in ensuring Singapore remains crypto-friendly has also spurred a lot of interest from local banks in Singapore.

According to Darius, banks have become more friendly over the past few years and the tone of conversation is changing rapidly. Now, banks are approaching QCP Capital to see if they can partner up for liquidity or even to understand how things are being run.

Building “Goldman Sachs” of the crypto industry

For Darius, QCP Capital is just getting started. What started off as a two-man proprietary trading shop in Singapore has now grown into a strong team of 70.

Darius has also started an asset management company called Phillip Street Partners, which houses the ventures arm PSP Soteria Ventures (PSV).

Philip Street Partners – Willy Ballmann, Darius Sit, IZ Wong, Bobby Hiranandani

PSV invests in other crypto and blockchain companies. Here are some of the notable companies that PSV has managed to be a part of:

  1. Axie Infinity – top grossing NFT game with over US$1.2 billion in revenue this year
  2. FTX – top five crypto exchange in the world with over US$7.5 billion in daily trade volume
  3. Synthetix – world’s largest derivatives liquidity protocol
  4. AAVE (ETHLend) – world’s largest decentralized finance protocol that allows people to lend and borrow crypto
  5. YFI – yield farming automation tool 
  6. Deribit – world’s top bitcoin futures and options exchange
  7. Avalanche – new blockchain layer competing with Ethereum network
  8. DYDX – world’s largest perpetual contracts trader
  9. Tokocrypto – Indonesia’s top two local cryptocurrency exchange
  10. Nansen AI – world’s top blockchain data analytics platform
  11. Algorand – blockchain infrastructure

Ultimately, Darius envisions QCP Capital to become a digital investment bank, or the Goldman Sachs of the crypto industry. While there are many skeptics, Darius sees plenty of opportunities in the space.

“As crypto becomes more and more mainstream, we want to be known as the homegrown Singapore brand name for crypto investments,” shared Darius.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


From 1 July 2021, Vulcan Post’s premium articles will be hidden behind a paywall. Subscribers will be able to enjoy exclusive articles with a deeper level of coverage and insight on verticals that include government technology, electric vehicles, cryptocurrency and e-commerce. You can check out our premium articles here and subscribe to us here.

Featured Image Credit: Darius Sit / QCP Capital

Also Read: Gemini APAC’s MD on crypto in S’pore: “Regulation is what is going to drive deeper adoption”

Crypto exchange Binance to stop trading, payment options in SGD in compliance with MAS orders

Binance singapore

US cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced yesterday (September 5) that it will cease some of its products and offerings in Singapore, in compliance with local regulations.

Binance said on its website yesterday that all of its trading pairs and payment options in Singapore dollar (SGD) will be ceased this Friday (September 10) by 12 PM UTC+8. Its mobile app will also be removed from the Apple App store and Google Play store in Singapore by Friday.

The exchange advised all users to complete all SGD-related peer-to-peer (P2P) trades and remove all associated trade advertisements by noon this Thursday (9 September) to avoid possible trading disputes. This advice follows an announcement that Binance P2P will remove all SGD trading pairs by noon this Friday.

“Binance welcomes developments to our industry’s regulatory framework as they pose opportunities for the market players to have greater collaboration with the regulators. We are committed to working constructively in policy-making that seeks to benefit every user,” said Binance.com in media statement.

Binance faces scrutiny from regulators worldwide

Financial authorities worldwide have been cracking down on Binance for failure to comply with local regulations, including the unlicensed provision of exchange services.

The latest country to join in the upheaval is South Africa, whose financial regulator issued a warning to its citizens last Friday (3 September), stating that Binance does not have the authorisation to operate in the country.

Earlier on September 2, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered Binance to halt its payment services to Singapore residents, citing a breach of the Payment Services Act.

Following the ban, Binance.com has since been placed on MAS’ Investor Alert List.

This clampdown only affects Binance.com. Users of the separate Singapore entity, Binance.sg, will not be seeing any service changes.

Binance Asia Services, the operator of Binance.sg, has submitted a licence application, which is currently under review by MAS. As such, Binance.sg is exempted from holding a licence for the provision of digital payment token services while the approval is being processed.

How will Binance’s exit from futures and derivatives impact the market?

The increased scrutiny has also forced Binance to exit its futures and derivatives business in Europe, along with other moves by the platform to whittle down on its products and offerings as regulators around the world follow suit.

Binance US — just like Binance.sg, operates as a separate legal entity as the global exchange Binance.com — bore most of the blow from the recent regulatory backlash.

For instance, the US exchange saw investors backing out of its latest US$100 million funding round. As a result, Binance US CEO Brian Brooks tendered his resignation after just three months into the job.

However, Binance.com still ranks among the largest crypto exchangers in the world. According to CoinMarketCap, Binance saw trade volumes of over US$26 billion as of today, ranking it the top cryptocurrency exchange by volume.

The medium-term impact of Binance’s retreat from these sections of the crypto derivatives market still remains to be seen.

Featured Image Credit: Bloomberg

Also Read: Binance CEO worked at McDonald’s, now he’s a crypto billionaire and one of S’pore’s richest

MAS orders crypto exchange Binance to stop services in S’pore, adds it to Investor Alert List

binance ban

Binance received yesterday (September 2) an order from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to stop providing payment services to Singapore residents.

A representative from MAS reportedly said that the US crypto exchange which operates Binance.com, is providing unlicensed payment services in breach of the payment services act.

The company has since been placed on MAS’ Investor Alert List to warn consumers in Singapore that Binance is not regulated or licensed in Singapore to provide any payment services.

“Binance is required to cease providing payment services which are regulated under the Payment Services Act to Singapore residents and cease soliciting such business from Singapore residents,” said an MAS representative.

However, Binance Asia Services (BAS) — a separate entity responsible for crypto exchange platform Binance.sg — has applied for a licence under the Payment Services Act.

Currently, BAS is exempted from holding a licence for providing digital payment token services following transitional arrangements under the Act.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTWAzgXvE9Z/

The exemption applies to operators that had been conducting regulated business before the Payment Services Act was put in place on 28 January 2020. Entities are allowed to continue providing services while their licence applications are processed, and the exemption will last until the approval, rejection, or withdrawal of the licence application.

MAS said that it is communicating with Binance Asia Services, which is expected to “immediately begin an orderly suspension of its facilitation of transfers of digital payment token assets” with Binance.

Binance Asia Services will inform its customers of relevant arrangements soon.

Singapore is not the first to take action against Binance

binance
Image Credit: Alamy

This clampdown by MAS is not the first — there has been a series of regulatory crackdowns on Binance’s operations worldwide.

Binance was warned by German financial regulator, BaFin, in April this year for a possible violation of security rules over the launch of its stock tokens trading without having published an investor prospectus.

The United States Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service investigated Binance in May this year amid concerns that cryptocurrencies are used to conceal illicit transactions, such as theft and drug deals. There are also concerns regarding tax evasions by Americans who have profited by betting on the meteoric rise of the crypto market.

In June this year, Binance’s British arm, Binance Markets was banned from conducting regulated business in the United Kingdom. There are concerns that Binance Markets was not proactive in preventing financial crimes on its platform, such as money laundering.

India’s money laundering agency also launched an investigation into the company for a potential violation of foreign exchange regulations.

Binance was also warned by Japan’s Financial Services Agency on June 25 for not being registered to do business in the country.

Other countries and cities that joined the global crackdown against Binance include Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, and Thailand.

What does this mean for Binance customers?

Binance.com is reported to be in talks with the Singaporean authorities to address these concerns.

They said in a statement, “Binance.com takes a collaborative approach in working with regulators in navigating this emerging industry and we take our compliance obligations very seriously.”

Meanwhile, Binance.sg responded saying the move by MAS will not directly impact its services, stressing that it is a separate legal entity from Binance.com.

Binance Singapore maintains that its only focus is on growing the cryptocurrency ecosystem locally and providing service to its Singaporean users.

Featured Image Credit: WIRED

Also Read: A look at crypto developments in S’pore as it cements itself as Asia’s leading crypto hub

From cybersecurity to AI: 4 global tech firms to provide 2,000 jobs in Punggol Digital District

Punggol Digital District

Unveiled in 2018 and currently under development, Punggol Digital District (PDD) is set to open progressively from 2024. This precinct, touted to be Singapore’s first smart business district, will integrate a business park and the new Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) campus, with residential districts, community facilities, parks and waterways.

In July this year, the first batch of global companies have secured their location at PDD, three years before its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) date, with the promise of creating 2,000 jobs. The companies are Boston Dynamics, Delta Electronics, Group-IB, and Wanxiang Blockchain, and are international firms specialising in fields including: Artificial Intelligence, data analysis, cybersecurity, and blockchain technology.

Punggol Digital District
Artist’s Impression PDD / Image Credit: WOHA

All in, PDD is set to create 28,000 new digital economy jobs in key growth sectors, such as cyber security, data analytics, solution engineering, and artificial intelligence.

Some key government agencies such as GovTech and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore will soon be relocated to PDD. Along with a network of tech associates, the PDD ecosystem hopes to promote opportunities for collaboration in the field of digital technology.

Punggol Digital District
Artist’s Impression of PDD / Image Credit: WOHA

With the aim to nurture industry-academia collaboration, this district will also be the first in Singapore to integrate physical and digital spaces between a business park and an educational institution. Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said the PDD will allow companies to tap on “industry partners, academic expertise, as well as industry-ready talent.”

This will also be the first time Singapore will see an integrated masterplan approach to establish strategic partnerships with companies to develop PDD’s Open Digital Platform. This platform seeks to transform user and community experience by integrating smart cities solutions within the district. Industry partners including local SMEs can collaborate to develop solutions and infrastructure for the platform.

For example, the Open Digital Platform, unique to PDD, provides seamless biometric access to facilities for tenants and mobile-phone enabled access to their premises for their visitors. The platform will also provide tenants and academics with real-time and historical data from estate and building management systems. Moreover, contributors can test their solutions on the platform using a digital twin of the whole precinct before deployment.

Punggol Digital District jobs
Artist’s Impression of PDD / Image Credit: WOHA

The district will also feature a vibrant and sustainable car-lite environment that connects to the greater Punggol area, bringing jobs and social amenities closer to residents.

Vulcan Post takes a look at the companies that will be hiring at this upcoming district.

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Boston Dynamics

Headquartered in Massachusetts, this engineering and robotics design firm was founded in 1992.

It was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Japan’s SoftBank Group in 2017. Hyundai Motor Group bought an 80 per cent stake in December 2020 for about US$880 million, and officially acquired a controlling stake in the company from SoftBank in June 2021.

The firm will partner Singaporean startup dConstruct Technologies and SIT to advance Singapore’s robotics developments. SIT students can use Boston Dynamics’ SPOT robot and dConstruct’s software programming tools to develop robotic solutions for campus-based applications.

Boston Dynamic Singapore
Boston Dynamic’s robot SPOT on trial in Singapore in 2020 / Image Credit @margianta

Singapore is one of the first markets around the world where Boston Dynamics has its sights set to grow a developer network and supporting ecosystem. It plans to work with early adopters like GovTech to test and improve their robots’ capabilities and applications.

Delta Electronics

One of the global leaders in electronics manufacturing, headquartered in Taiwan and founded in 1971. Its current facility in Singapore was founded in 2010, but it plans to set up its regional headquarters in Kallang by 2022, as well as a satellite office at PDD.

The company’s smart solutions are integrated into PDD’s Open Digital Platform, and allow remote monitoring and data analytics of environmental and machine metrics. This integration is part of Delta’s PDD Smart Living Programme that allows firms to access smart living solutions for testing and learning.

Now, Delta Singapore is building a fully automated container smart farm at the PDD Site Gallery, which showcases new tech that companies can expect to see. Their container farm is connected to the Open Data Platform, and generates data that other local farmers can tap on.

Besides providing data on agriculture, Delta’s tech specialists will also test a range of smart solutions, including smart surveillance, lighting and crowd control systems. These will all be connected to the Open Data Platform that other companies and students can use to control systems, receive data, and optimise solutions.

delta electronics singapore
Delta’s engineers at work / Image Credit: JTC

The company is open to working in PDD with students from schools and institutions across Singapore to promote more interest in the field.

Group-IB

This international threat hunting and intelligence company headquartered in Singapore specialises in preventing cyberattacks. It was founded in 2003 in Moscow, Russia, and has been actively hiring local talents since 2019.

Group IB will locate their regional headquarters in the Punggol Digital District. Group-IB plans to collaborate with SIT to develop a virtual environment called the PDD Cyberpolygon Sandzone, which allows stress testing of applications, solutions and systems against cyberthreats in industries and academia.

cyberpolygon sandzone
PDD Cyberpolygon Sandzone architecture / Image Credit: Group-IB

In collaboration with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, JTC, SIT and other industry associations like Division Zero, the company is looking to build interest in cybersecurity in Singapore. It hopes to develop a local talent pool in Singapore that can fill up new cybersecurity roles that will open up over the next few years.

For instance, it initiated the PDD Connecting Smartness – Bug Bounty 1.0 programme, a competition in hacking skills through identifying bugs or vulnerabilities in existing systems within the programme. Winners earn internships at Group-IB alongside more industry professionals.

It’s now working with leading local universities to develop cybersecurity curriculum in the digital forensics, threat hunting, and cyber investigation spaces.

Wanxiang Blockchain

Likewise, blockchain company Wanxiang will also house its regional headquarters in PDD. This Chinese company was founded in 2015 and is one of the leading firms in China’s blockchain industry.

The blockchain solutions firm plans to bring its technology, capital and resources to propel industrial development and business adoption in the blockchain industry, starting from Singapore.

wanxing blockchain punggol
One of China’s leading blockchain companies, Wanxiang / Image Credit: JTC

The Open Data Platform will allow them to test bed new use-cases for technologies such as blockchain, IoT, AI and 5G at the PDD.

Wanxing is now working with several local entities to kickstart their game-changing initiatives. For instance, they are partnering with the Infocomm Media Development Agency (IMDA) to develop blockchain solutions for cross-border trade and financing. They are also collaborating with local blockchain accelerator Tribe, to launch a blockchain makerspace and incubation programme.

The programme allows local startups to learn and address data privacy issues and improve their data management capabilities. The new makerspace will provide technical support and investment opportunities to promising projects.

In partnership with Singaporean training provider AGB Education Centre, Wanxing will launch a series of skills training programmes to groom mid-career professionals and offer certification in the fields of blockchain, cybersecurity, AI, data analytics, computer networking, robotic process automation, and cloud computing.

It also has future plans to explore potential collaborations with local institutes of higher learning and research, like SIT. It hopes to bridge new connections between China’s digital companies and Singapore brands.

Punggol digital district jobs
Artist’s Impression of PDD / Image Credit: WOHA

The sheer amount of career prospects that come with these four global companies setting up shop in the PDD is definitely very exciting.

With a total of 28,000 new jobs to look forward to in the new precinct, Singaporeans interested in working in the tech sector have a very promising array of employment opportunities to choose at PDD in the next three years.

Featured Image Credit: WOHA

Also Read: “A look at crypto developments in S’pore as it cements itself as Asia’s leading crypto hub

Binance targeting IPO for US crypto exchange in three years, says CEO Zhao Changpeng

Global cryptocurrency exchange Binance is mulling an initial public offering (IPO) for its US business in the next three years, said its CEO Zhao Changpeng.

“Binance.US is just going to do what Coinbase did,” said Zhao, according to The Information.

A large private fundraising round will also be held in the next two months for Binance.US, Zhao told the news agency. This should reduce the CEO’s control of the board.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CTTnwFUPjaf/

A profitable business

In 2020, Binance reached US$2 trillion in total trading volume, and its Binance Coin or BNB is now the third-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Binance chalked in US$800 million to US$1 billion in profit last year.

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Zhao had earlier told the media that Binance was not looking to go down an IPO route. He then had said that the firm was cash-sufficient, profitable, and growing.

In an interview with CNBC, Zhao also said he’s willing to step down from his CEO role as the company seeks to become a regulated financial institution. While he has no immediate plans to give up his role, he revealed that Binance has a succession plan in place.

The IPO interest comes as Zhao made it to the Forbes list of Singapore’s 50 richest, where he took the 22nd spot.

45-year-old Zhao has amassed a net worth of US$1.9 billion (as of August 10), thanks in part to the 30 per cent stake in Binance.

Regulatory hurdles

The world’s largest crypto exchange has been under pressure from global regulators including Singapore’s Monetary Authority of Singapore due to concerns over the use of crypto in money laundering and risks to consumers.

Following this string of clampdowns, Zhao had expressed his intention to cooperate with global regulators and be “fully compliant” to protect its users and the crypto industry.

“We need to be a licensed financial institution everywhere that we operate,” Zhao said during a press conference held in July.

He added that if regulators expect Binance to have a headquarters, then Binance will establish regional headquarters around the world. This will give them a “very easy to understand structure.” However, he revealed that Binance has not decided on specific locations yet.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


Featured Image Credit: Bloomberg

Also Read: Binance CEO worked at McDonald’s, now he’s a crypto billionaire and one of S’pore’s richest

We tried out Hodlnaut’s new app to see if it really helps make our idle crypto work for us

What if you could earn up to 12 per cent interest per year without needing to check on your account constantly and trade actively?

For busy working professionals, investing usually ranks among the top few tasks we must do to make our money count, but due to our busy schedules, we often resort to depositing our funds into fixed deposits or bonds instead as it requires less maintenance.

I know that because that’s what I do. Having tried crypto trading, I also know that the daily volatile ups and downs in prices do make my stomach turn too often. Even so, I also have a fear of missing out on something big in this crypto movement.

Image Credit: CoinMarketCap

Enter Hodlnaut, which claims to offer crypto users like me an opportunity to cushion the market volatility by depositing into its high-yield interest account.

The idea of being able to earn passive income without investing too much of my time really convinced me to take a serious look at this product.

I checked out Hodlnaut’s website and upon looking up reviews, the words from one user stuck in my mind: “Hodlnaut gives me a way to generate yield on these assets that would otherwise be idle in my cold wallet,” commented Markus Bruderer, director at Antler.

More insight from another reviewer: Golden Gate Ventures head of growth Kenrick Drijkoningen said that Hodlnaut is a great example of what the future of banking could look like.

Curious, I decided to find out more about what this investment product does and whether these claims really justify the hype on this product.

First things first, what is Hodlnaut? 

Image Credit: Hodlnaut

Simply put, Hodlnaut is a platform that allows cryptocurrency investors to earn interest on their crypto holdings by lending them to vetted institutions.

It’s an emerging and fast-growing Singapore-based cryptocurrency interest-earning platform offering one of the highest interest rates in the crypto lending space (up to 12 per cent annually) to help users do more with their crypto assets.

Hodlnaut currently accepts deposits in the cryptocurrencies BTC, DAI, ETH, USDC, USDT, and WBTC. According to the company, it has accumulated about US$500 million in assets under its management from over 5,000 users. 

“Hodl” is a common slang in the cryptocurrency community, it means to “hold on to your dear life”, depicting an act of holding the cryptocurrencies rather than selling it. The “naut” is derived from the word astronaut, which symbolises how crypto investments aspire to reach the moon.

Hodlnaut uses your parked crypto assets as collateral to offer loans to corporate creditors. The company only lends to corporate entities with good credit scores and will conduct strict verification checks during the onboarding process. 

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of its loans are usually 70 per cent or lower.

Image Credit: Hodlnaut

It is certified by the Singapore Fintech Association, which is recognised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The company is currently undergoing license application under the Payment Services Act and aims to become the first regulated entity in Singapore within the crypto lending and borrowing space.

Founded in 2019 by CEO Juntao Zhu and CTO Simon Lee, Hodlnaut served a gap in the market, as it immediately received funds from its first depositors within the same year. The duo previously founded Cypher Forge, a cryptocurrency trade execution platform.

The platform is available worldwide, excluding places prohibited by Hodlnaut’s policy or sanction laws, like North Korea and Syria.

To date, it has raised about US$100,000 in funding from one pre-seed funding round with Antler, a Singapore-based startup accelerator and venture capitalist firm.

Getting started on Hodlnaut

Signing up for a Hodlnaut account was a fairly straightforward process, with the typical know-your-customer (KYC) requirements.

It took one to two business days for the account to be approved, and I had to fill in details like my name, address, latest residential address, as well as upload images of my identity card.

I also had to set up my two-factor authentication (2FA) via Google Authenticator. This generates a six-digit code on my mobile app for me to key in as verification when logging into the account.

The platform requires that you set up 2FA before you can make a withdrawal, which helps keep accounts secure and prevent unauthorised withdrawals. Hodlnaut uses industry-standard encryption and other safety regulations to ensure that assets and information on its platform are protected. 

Once my account was approved, I went on to transfer 1 ETH from my Coinhako crypto wallet to my Hodlnaut crypto address. The amount was deposited in less than 30 minutes.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Hodlnaut also offers the option of having insurance coverage on the assets held on the platform. The company partnered with European company Nexus Mutual to provide users up to US$17 million of smart contract insurance.

This gives Hodlnaut users an option to purchase insurance on the funds deposited and works as an additional safeguard. Moreover, with iTrust integration, users can buy the custody cover directly from the Hodlnaut platform for a fuss-free and seamless experience.

Parking your crypto in Hodlnaut

For someone who likes to monitor my money pot as it grows, it was comforting to see that there’s a live meter on the platform that shows my interest rolling in every single second.

After depositing 1 ETH in the account for a short two weeks, I made 0.00248 ETH. This calculated to 7.2 per cent annual interest, or 0.0746 ETH by the end of 12 months.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Hodlnaut has a tiered interest returns scale. For the first 20 ETH, interest generated will be at 7.2 per cent per annum, and for the next 80 ETH, the returns will be at four per cent. For subsequent deposits above 100 ETH, it will be at two per cent.

As for the first 2 BTC, interest returns will be at 7.2 per cent, followed by four per cent, two per cent, and one per cent for deposits of 8 BTC, 90 BTC, and more than 100 BTC, respectively.

Image Credit: Hodlnaut

There are no fees for depositing and no minimum amount required to deposit the crypto.

It was also great to monitor the weekly payouts to the wallet as I could see the money generating more value the longer it is stored in the account. 

A plus point to note is that users can deposit and withdraw their crypto anytime, and there’s also no lock-in periods or minimum deposits.

This contrasts with other financial investment products like fixed deposits at banks where I can only withdraw the amount after a period of time, with a much lower interest yield of less than two per cent. 

This flexibility in managing my investments without a lock-in period and earning more interest by not doing much was a refreshing experience, having been investing for over 10 years and trying many different financial products.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

There’s also an interest calculator on the Hodlnaut site to check how much returns one can get. 

For example, if I were to place 1 ETH (worth S$4,127.33 at the time of writing) with Hodlnaut for six months, the returns I will generate would be 0.0366 ETH. 

This would translate to earnings of S$151.20, at the back of an interest rate of 7.2 per cent, which is definitely better than putting your crypto in cold wallets and letting them go idle.

Although the returns look like a small sum in such a short period, we have to bear in mind that the cumulative interest within a year is higher than most investment products out in the market. This platform is more of a medium-to-longer-term investment game, as the longer you park the funds in the account, the higher the returns would be.

Image Credit: Hodlnaut

Hodlnaut has a token swap service that allows users to exchange tokens directly on the app. This is suitable for users who want to test out altcoins like Tether for example, which offers 12 per cent interest per annum for the first 25,000 USDT.

However, there are withdrawal fees and a daily withdrawal limit of 100 BTC. Withdrawal fees are adjusted regularly according to blockchain conditions. Currently, the transaction fee for ETH is 0.0036 ETH and 0.0004 BTC for BTC.

So how does Hodlnaut earn money?

Image Credit: Hodlnaut

Hodlnaut takes a small portion of the interest earned from lending and passes the rest to its users. It also lends out the assets to decentralised protocols and earn interest from there.

When we deposit our cryptocurrency into Hodlnaut, it loans out the coins to corporations that might not otherwise be able to get a crypto loan. 

For this privilege, it charges the companies and other loan recipients an interest rate, just like any bank would for a loan. Hodlnaut then passes some of that interest to us as payment for allowing it to loan out our position.

“We lend out the assets we receive to established and vetted financial institutions that pay an interest rate,” said Hodlnaut.

“As for the attractive interest rates, we analyse supply and demand on our available crypto assets to set a fluctuating interest rate that adjusts as market conditions change. Also, we take earnings from our previous months into consideration.”

According to Hodlnaut, the partners who borrow from Hodlnaut use the funds depending on their business functions. Most of them use the crypto as a hedge against the Bitcoin prices or for market-making on their platform/exchange, while some approach Hodlnaut for liquidity.

You can now trade on the go with Hodlnaut’s new app

Hodlnaut recently launched its iOS mobile app earlier this month in line with its commitment to provide a fuss-free user experience.

For existing users like myself, it was as easy as downloading the app on the Apple App Store and logging into my Hodlnaut account. 

Having the app allows me to check my returns on the go as well as transfer any excess crypto I have in other wallets to generate interest there. 

It’s a feature I highly welcome, as the convenience of having an app on my phone allows me to better track my returns wherever I am, be it at the gym, or buying groceries.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The interest is calculated in real-time on the app as well. The first tab on the left shows information like total account value, total interest received, and the next payout date.

If you wish to withdraw your crypto assets via the app, you can do so by clicking on the crypto asset on the wallet page. 

As for depositing crypto assets, users can either copy and paste the address code to another exchange or wallet, or scan the QR code that contains the link address from the exchange or wallet to initiate the transfer.

The iOS app also features Hodlnaut’s affiliate program, with which users can earn 10 per cent commission on their friend’s interest for every successful referral.

It is available for download on the Apple App Store and enables seamless cryptocurrency transactions. The application shows the interest calculated in real-time and is integrated with sharing applications like WhatsApp and Telegram for easy export of transactions.

An Android version of the app will be launched in the last quarter of 2021. 

The company also has plans to launch a portfolio management system, auto swaps, and scheduled swaps soon. 

Hodlnaut’s high-yield interest account is easy to use. For investors who want higher returns but may be too busy to manage daily trades, the platform is a great way to make your crypto work for you without you working much. 

It also allows you to hedge against the volatile crypto market with its guaranteed interest returns.

The crypto market is only just warming up and has the potential to transform more industries, making the use case for cryptocurrencies even stronger down the road, and more crypto firms will look for lenders like Hodlnaut for loans, benefiting us users through the loan interest payments.

If you are keen to try out this fuss-free high returns investment platform, you can sign up for an account with Hodlnaut on its website or iOS mobile app today.

This article was written in collaboration with Hodlnaut.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


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Featured Image Credit: Hodlnaut

Also Read: What are crypto securities and why they are about to give the finance industry a facelift

Binance CEO worked at McDonald’s, now he’s a crypto billionaire and one of S’pore’s richest

zhao changpeng binance

Most recently, Binance founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng (also known as “CZ”) was a new entrant to Forbes’ Singapore’s 50 Richest 2021 list, where he took the 22nd spot.

The 45-year-old amassed a net worth of US$1.9 billion (as of 10 August 2021), thanks in part to an estimated 30 per cent stake in his company.

He is also ranked fifth on Forbes’ Crypto Rich 2021 list and 1664th on Forbes’ Billionaires 2021 list. He was also listed in Forbes’ China Rich List in 2018, but later dropped off in 2019.

Here’s a look at how Zhao grew Binance over the years to accumulate his current wealth.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CS9BLmgHahI/

Flipping burgers to running world’s largest crypto exchange

Zhao Changpeng grew up in Jiangsu, China and both of his parents were educators. His father in particular was a professor, but he was labelled a “pro-bourgeois intellect” and temporarily exiled shortly after Zhao was born.

When he was a teenager, he flipped burgers at McDonald’s and worked overnight shifts at a gas station.

After graduating from his computer science studies at Montreal’s McGill University, he spent time in both Tokyo and New York to develop trading systems for the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Bloomberg’s Tradebook.

He did well at the company and was in fact promoted thrice in less than two years, but he ended up quitting the job in 2005. He then moved to Shanghai to start up his own trading system company, Fusion Systems.

He later founded Binance in 2017, which is now a major player in the crypto-verse.

The platform allows users to trade currency, offering a wide range of options for cryptocurrencies to invest in. Binance also provides a crypto wallet for its traders, where users can store, send and receive their electronic funds.

binance coin
Image Credit: Corporate Finance Institute

The Binance platform also has its own coin, BNB, which users can buy, sell and hold. Today, it is the third-largest cryptocurrency worldwide with a market capitalisation of nearly US$54 billion.

In July 2017, Zhao raised US$15 million in initial coin offerings just when the market was getting hot and within six months, it became the largest crypto exchange in the world.

The following year, it attained six million users.

The dramatic rise in bank balance and rapid success brought lots of publicity, the peak being the front cover of Forbes magazine. It was a remarkable rise from flipping burgers to being a crypto billionaire.

Fast forward to 2020, Binance has booked more than US$800 million in revenue and reached US$2 trillion in total trading volume.

Last year, Binance also acquired CoinMarketCap in April and launched their own cryptocurrency debit card.

As Binance expands its business in different areas, Zhao admits that the Binance Card is actually losing money for the company but he doesn’t mind it because he wanted to get that product out.

“We’re doing a number of new businesses that are burning money. It’s still too early to say what our profits or revenues will be this year,” he told Bloomberg Markets.

How he got started on Bitcoin

binance ceo zhao changpeng
Image Credit: Forbes

Zhao is so devoted to Binance that that he actually sports a tattoo of the company’s logo on his arm.

He also believes in cryptocurrency so much that he has probably invested “close to 100 per cent” of his net worth in crypto coins.

I don’t own any fiat — the physical stuff that I own is probably negligible in terms of my net worth. So this is a concept shift. I’m not using crypto to buy fiat, I’m not using crypto to buy houses.

I just want to keep crypto. And I don’t plan to convert my crypto into cash in the future.

– Binance founder and CEO, Zhao Changpeng in an interview with Bloomberg Markets

A separate 2018 Forbes interview also revealed that although Zhao is crypto rich, he doesn’t own any cars, yachts or fancy watches. Instead, he often splurges on laptops — the most he bought was five or six laptops at a time — simply because he “destroys (them) pretty quickly.”

Zhao, who currently resides in Singapore, first learnt about Bitcoin from Bobby Lee, who was the CEO of BTC China and his investor at a poker game.

They advised him to convert 10 per cent of his net worth into bitcoin, saying that there’s a high chance that it will multiply 10-fold, which essentially means doubling his net worth.

That piqued his interest, but because there was a lack of educational content on Bitcoin back then, he researched on it by downloading a white paper online and scrolling through the forum bitcointalk.org.

Having come from a tech background, he understood the concept fairly quickly and liked the idea of Bitcoin because it is borderless and maintained by the network.

“You can transfer money from any country to any other country, not limited by any person or intermediaries. Having lived in a lot of different countries, every time I had to convert money, I would lose a lot,” he said.

He then sold his apartment in Shanghai for US$1 million and used the money for bitcoin.

He later began bouncing around prominent crypto projects and joined Blockchain.info as the third member of the cryptocurrency wallet’s team.

He also worked at OKCoin as chief technology officer for less than a year, a platform for spot trading between fiat and digital assets.

Binance is currently facing regulatory scrutiny

binance crypto clampdown
Image Credit: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Despite Binance’s strong growth, regulations in China have somewhat stifled its progress after the government banned trading in 2017. Yet, Binance responded by moving overseas and expanding to varying locations around the world. 

However, Binance has come under intense regulatory scrutiny lately as authorities around the world seek to clamp down on the fast-growing crypto industry.

In the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned Binance’s British unit from undertaking any regulated activity. According to the FCA, Binance was one of many crypto firms that withdrew their applications to the U.K.’s temporary licensing regime due to failing to meet anti-money laundering requirements.

Regulators in Japan, Canada and Italy have also clamped down on the firm, warning that it is not authorised to operate in the countries.

Following this string of clampdowns, Zhao expressed his intention to cooperate with global regulators and be “fully compliant” to protect its users and the crypto industry.

“We need to be a licensed financial institution everywhere that we operate,” Zhao said during a press conference held in July.

He added that if regulators expect Binance to have a headquarters, then Binance will establish regional headquarters around the world. This will give them a “very easy to understand structure.”

However, he revealed that Binance has not decided on specific locations yet.

We’ve taken a very strong pivot now. For the last four years, we are a technology startup. From now on, we’re going to be a financial institution … I think that mindset is a very strong shift.

– Binance founder and CEO, Zhao Changpeng in a July 2017 press conference

What’s next for Binance?

In an interview with CNBC, Zhao also said he’s willing to step down from his CEO role as the company seeks to become a regulated financial institution.

While he has no immediate plans to give up his role, he revealed that Binance has a succession plan in place.

“We’re going to pivot to be a fully regulated financial institution going forward,” said Zhao, adding that he would be “very open” to finding a replacement CEO with more regulatory experience during the pivot.

Screenshot of Zhao Changpeng’s Twitter thread

CEO contingency planning starts on Day 0, same as (with) any other role. I feel CEOs should not stay for more than ten years, ideally around five years. We live in a dynamic world. We need new thinking. Presidents only serve for four years.

I don’t need to be a CEO, and I am not leaving. I will always find ways to contribute to the community behind the logo tattooed to my forearm. I am proud to be a member of the #binance ecosystem. Let’s keep growing it.

– Binance founder and CEO, Zhao Changpeng said in a Twitter thread

For now, Binance aims to set up a number of regional headquarters around the world and will seek licenses wherever they are available.

Most recently, Binance also announced that they are embarking on a hiring spree to add compliance teams to beef up its 1,600 to 1,700-strong company. Zhao stressed that his top priority is to hire people with compliance and regulatory experience.

Binance is also ramping up hiring in Singapore, with more than 50 job openings ranging from business development to finance and operations, available on its career page.

And while crypto companies like Coinbase are exploring IPOs, Zhao remains firm that they are not looking to go down that same route.

“We are cash-­sufficient, so we’re able to grow ourselves. We don’t need a huge amount of money, we are profitable, and we are growing,” he said.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


Featured Image Credit: Binance

Also Read: How Covid-19 helped Li Xiting become S’pore’s richest man with a net worth of US$23 billion

A look at crypto developments in S’pore as it cements itself as Asia’s leading crypto hub

cryptocurrency singapore

Singapore has cemented its status as Asia’s leading cryptocurrency fintech hub in its recent move to license digital payments services providers.

As other Asian cities like Hong Kong remain staunch on cryptocurrency-related legislations, Singapore’s welcoming stance hopes to lure digital asset groups. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been an active promoter of fintech businesses, in a bid to attract investments and entrepreneurs in contributing to the country’s development.

Singapore’s road to regulating cryptocurrency has been a cautious and interesting journey so far. In this article, we take a look at the key crypto developments in Singapore over the years.

2013

Local cryptocurrency exchange, FYB-SG was founded in January 2013 and offered bitcoin trading for fiat currency, more specifically in Singapore dollars.

Liberty reserve founder
Liberty Reserve Founder / Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

Later that year, investigations arose involving online currency transfer service Liberty Reserve, which drew Singapore into a high-profile criminal case.

Liberty Reserve allegedly facilitated a Dominican Republic gang member in depositing thousands of dollars of stolen cash into two of the company’s accounts through currency centres based in Russia and Singapore. This was one of the first cases to prompt the authorities to regulate the virtual currency industry.

In September 2013, MAS cautioned consumers against bitcoin trading although some merchants in Singapore have started accepting crypto payments for physical goods.

2014

bitcoin atm singapore
Bitcoin ATM in Singapore / Image Credit: Ethereum World News

Tembusu Terminals launched Asia’s first Bitcoin ATM at a small pub in Boat Quay in February 2014.

The following month, Singapore was reportedly set to become the second country in the world after the US to regulate digital currencies such as bitcoin.

MAS issued a proposal for customer identities to be verified in any virtual currency exchanges, and urged suspicious transactions to be reported. This regulation was imposed to address potential risks of money laundering or terrorism financing.

That same year, Singapore-based crypto exchange platform Coinhako was launched. Its digital platform enables consumers to buy, sell, and secure Bitcoin and other digital assets.

Coinhako is also one of Asia’s first digital asset wallet services and now stores more than 100,000 user wallets.

2015

In 2015, there were 63 cryptocurrency-linked firms in Singapore. That same year, Singapore-based payment processing gateway that offers credit card processing and Internet banking transfers, Xfers, was launched.

Homegrown crypto startup responsible for Asia’s first bitcoin ATM, Tembusu, also raised S$1.2 million for cryptocurrency development in January 2015. This fresh capital injection valued the company at S$11 million.

Coinbase Singapore
Coinbase / Image Credit: Coingape

Coinbase, one of the world’s largest U.S.-based bitcoin companies, launched retail buy and sell operations in Singapore and Canada in September 2015, as part of its push to expand usage of the digital currency globally. Singapore was the company’s first foray into Asia.

TenX was also founded in 2015 during a hackathon in Singapore; it is a payments platform that allows users to make daily transactions with cryptocurrency.

2016

Bank of Canada and MAS embarked on Project Jasper and Project Ubin in 2016.

Under Project Ubin, MAS partnered with blockchain technology companies and financial institutions to make interbank payments using blockchain technology.

Project ubin singapore
Project Ubin Singapore / Image Credit: Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute

Singapore-founded Digix, a gold-tracking asset on the Ethereum blockchain, raised its crowdsale goal of US$5.5 million in under 12 hours in April 2016.

Unfortunately, two Bitcoin ATMs in Tiong Bahru Plaza and Hong Lim Complex crashed as the price of cryptocurrency skyrocketed past US$16,000 in December 2017. Bitcoin wallet services provider Coinhako was one of the few crypto-related companies who experienced bank account closure by local banks.

2017

In June 2017, Singapore-based cryptocurrency startup TenX raised US$80 million for its ICO, in which it raised US$43 million in just seven minutes.

Singapore-headquartered crypto trading platform Huobi also launched operations locally in November 2017.

Singapore’s first legal dispute involving cryptocurrency bitcoin headed for trial on 5 December 2017. Electronic market maker, B2C2, sought to recover 3,084.78582325 bitcoins from Singapore-incorporated bitcoin exchange operator, Quoine.

Ducatus Cafe, Singapore
Ducatus Cafe, Singapore / Image Credit: Reuters

In December 2017, cryptocurrency mining company Ducatus Global opened Singapore’s first cashless cafe at Oxley Tower on Robinson Road. It only accepts cashless payments, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ducatus coins. It also has an in-store cryptocurrency ATM.

On 17 December 2017, Bitcoin reached an all-time high of US$19,783.06, compared to January 2017, when a single Bitcoin was worth slightly under US$1,000.

Following this spike, MAS issued a media release cautioning the public against cryptocurrency investments on 20 December 2017. Just a couple days after, on 22 December 2017, Bitcoin dipped by 45 per cent to US$11,000.

2018

Singapore-based decentralised storage network company, Bluzelle, raised almost US$20 million with its 24-hour campaign in February 2018.

Parliamentary questions were raised in 2018 regarding banning cryptocurrency trading. MAS replied favoruably to crypto traders, adding that the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing risks will be monitored closely.

Furthermore, MAS reaffirmed the economic and social benefits of encouraging experiments in the blockchain space, especially regarding cryptocurrencies.

MAS then issued a warning in 2018 to eight digital token exchanges in Singapore not to facilitate trading in digital tokens that are securities or futures contracts without authorisation. It also warned an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) issuer to stop offering its digital tokens to local investors in Singapore.

By November 2018, the value of Bitcoin was reported to have fallen to around US$5,500.

2019

Funan’s Kopitiam outlet started accepting digital currency payments including bitcoin, ethereum and creatanium in 2019.

Funan kopitiam
Funan Kopitiam / Image Credit: CapitaLand

Binance, now one of the world’s largest crypto exchange platforms, launched in Singapore in April 2019.

MAS issued a consultation paper on 20 November 2019, proposing to allow payment token derivatives to be traded on Approved Exchanged and to regulate the activity under the Securities and Futures Act.

Singapore Blockchain Landscape 2019
Singapore Blockchain Landscape 2019 / Image Credit: IMDA

Torque, an investment platform that seems to use a multi-level marketing scheme, was also incorporated in 2019 by Singaporean Bernard Ong, in the British Virgin Islands.

2020

TenX announced an indefinite shut down and discontinuation of its services in January 2020.

MAS launched the Payments Services Act (PSA) Singapore. The Payment Services Act is a framework for the regulation of payment systems and payment service providers in Singapore. It ensures regulatory certainty and consumer safeguards, while encouraging innovation and growth of payment services and Fintech.

For instance, Xfers was awarded the Major Payment Institution (MPI) license on 28 January 2020 by MAS. Later in October, the company launched XSGD in October 2020, the world’s first Travel Rule compliant stablecoin backed 1:1 with the Singapore dollar.

MAS and Temasek also announced on 13 July 2020 the successful conclusion of the final phase of Project Ubin.

Singapore Blockchain Landscape 2020
Singapore Blockchain Landscape 2020 / Image Credit: IMDA

DBS announced on 10 December 2020 that it will set up a members-only digital exchange (DDEx) for cryptocurrencies for institutions and wealthy clients to tap into asset tokenisation.

Gemini started supporting the Singapore dollar in buying crypto and trading in 22 December 2020.

2021

February 2021 saw the collapse of Singapore-based cryptocurrency trading platform, Torque, and the suspension of all its trading activities. Up to 155 police reports were lodged against Torque by April 2021, with investors claiming losses in the millions in cryptocurrencies.

Singapore was also reported to be Asia’s digital securities trading hub in March 2021.

On top of cross-border money transfer service, Adyen Singapore’s license as a Major Payment Institution under the PSA was expanded to include merchant acquisition and domestic money transfer services. Furthermore, Adyen Singapore was the first global payments provider to be licensed for merchant acquisition service under the PSA.

The State of Crypto in Singapore Report 2021, conducted in July 2021 by crypto exchange Gemini found that Ether is Singapore’s most owned cryptocurrency, followed by Bitcoin, Cardano, and Binance coin. The report found that 34 per cent of non-crypto holders were likely to start investing in crypto over the next year.

To solidify Singapore’s status as a cryptocurrency and blockchain hub, MAS gave out the first PSA licenses in August 2021. For example, Independent Reserve, an Australia-founded crypto exchange, was granted an “in-principle approval” from MAS under the Payment Services Act on 3 Aug 2021.

Monetary Authority of Singapore
Monetary Authority of Singapore / Image Credit: Munshi/Ahmed/Bloomberg

DBS Vickers, the brokerage arm of DBS Bank, announced on 12 August 2021 that it received an in-principle approval from MAS to offer crypto trading services for digital payment tokens. DDEx reportedly recorded almost S$180 million in total trading value in 2021.

What lies ahead for crypto in Singapore?

The future of crypto in Singapore is looking bright. Singapore’s growth as a regional hub is spurring new initiatives in nearby countries, such as in Thailand and Japan.

However, new challenges are sure to emerge, like security issues and the pricing of underlying assets. Users might still have reservations with trading in the digital space as cybersecurity issues persist. Liquidity and transparency in pricing of digital assets still have a lot of room for improvement, and there is optimism as the market grows to accomodate more liquidity.

At the same time, the question of how the growth of digital exchanges could possibly threaten or complement more traditional currency exchanges still remains.

Singapore cryptocurrency timeline
Singapore’s cryptocurrency timeline / Image Credit: Vulcan Post


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


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Also Read: All you need to know about the Payment Services Act and how it impacts S’pore crypto users

All you need to know about the Payment Services Act and how it impacts S’pore crypto users

As more Singaporeans started gaining awareness and interest in cryptocurrencies, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) established its first regulatory framework to govern the buying, selling, and facilitating the exchange of cryptocurrencies under the Payment Services Act (PSA).

Also known as PSA 2019, it came into effect on January 28th last year. It broadens the scope from the existing PSA, aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework for payment services in Singapore, which includes operating as a provider for digital payment token services, and other crypto services.

Digital payment token services are a newly regulated area, and the PSA is enacted to ensure that payment structures put in place anti-money laundering (AML) and combating-financial terrorism (CFT) safeguards. This includes having robust controls to detect and deter the flow of illicit funds through Singapore’s financial system.

The central bank’s move comes as governments around the world continue to assess how best to regulate the borderless cryptocurrencies which have rocketed in popularity. This is a growing concern as cryptocurrencies can lead to illegal activities like tax evasion and terrorism financing.

The price of Bitcoin, the most popular crypto, has skyrocketed over the past few years / Image Credit: CoinMarketCap

Elsewhere around the world, the United States has also said it will require crypto transfers involving big amounts to be reported, while China has taken a tougher approach, launching a campaign against Bitcoin trading and mining

We take a look at how Singapore is regulating the world of crypto and its digital tokens via its PSA.

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What’s the Payment Services Act?

The PSA is a forward looking and flexible framework for the regulation of payment systems and payment service providers in Singapore. This means that the act is still an active work in progress and being debated in the Parliament, along with inputs from industry players.

Prior to the PSA, cryptocurrency players were unsure whether it was legal for them to offer their services in Singapore. With the PSA, this provides regulatory certainty and consumer safeguards, without stifling the innovation and growth of the payment services and FinTech industries.

MAS established a regulatory framework to govern the buying and selling of digital payment tokens / Image Credit: Reuters

The Singapore Parliament passed the renewed PSA on January 14th, 2019, requiring all digital payment service providers to receive licensing to operate. The Act widens the scope of regulated activities to a larger range of payment services and activities – from domestic money transfers, inward remittances, merchant acquisition, to digital payment token services.

These digital payment token service providers have to apply for a licence / Image Credit: MAS

To obtain the licence, virtual asset service providers are required to put controls in place to ensure proper due diligence, suitable solicitation, and adequate risk disclosure.

The PSA came into effect in January 2020, and all providers of digital payment token services operating in Singapore, including crypto exchanges, must be registered and licensed.

The Act gives the MAS supervisory authority over payment firms to ensure, among other things, that they are compliant with AML and CFT requirements.

Is it legal for me to purchase Bitcoin in Singapore?

Currently, popular cryptocurrency exchanges in Singapore such as Coinhako, Gemini, Huobi are all operating under the PSA exempt framework. These cryptocurrency firms have applied for, and notified the MAS of their services, and the MAS had exempted them from needing to operate with a licence – hence they are able to operate.

What this means is that you have to assume the full liability of your purchases. According to government website MoneySense, persons that buy or sell cryptocurrencies, or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies may be regulated under the PSA, however, they are not required to protect your cryptocurrency, and are not required to ensure that each cryptocurrency transaction is processed properly. MAS regulates cryptocurrency service providers under the PSA mainly for money-laundering and terrorism financing risk only.

Under the PSA, crypto companies are required to provide the following risk disclaimer to all users:

RISK WARNING ON DIGITAL PAYMENT TOKEN SERVICES

The MAS requires us to provide this risk warning to you as a customer of a digital payment token (DPT) service provider.

Before you pay your DPT service provider any money or DPT, you should be aware of the following.

1. Your DPT service provider is exempted by MAS from holding a licence to provide DPT services. Please note that you may not be able to recover all the money or DPTs you paid to your DPT service provider if your DPT service provider’s business fails.

2. You should not transact in the DPT if you are not familiar with this DPT. Transacting in DPTs may not be suitable for you if you are not familiar with the technology that DPT services are provided.

3. You should be aware that the value of DPTs may fluctuate greatly. You should buy DPTs only if you are prepared to accept the risk of losing all of the money you put into such tokens.

How can users check if a company is under the PSA?

Currently digital payment token service providers have been operating in the Republic with an exemption from holding a licence under the PSA. What this means is that cryptocurrency service providers now can operate as though they have a licence, even though they do not.

The exemption is in force until applications are approved or rejected by MAS, or withdrawn by the applicant.

Consumers can check this site to see if the service providing crypto digital tokens has applied for a licence.

In a reply to a question in Parliament last month, Senior Minister and MAS chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that several applicants were in the final stages of review for getting a licence to operate as digital payment token service providers.

Several applicants are in the final stages of review for getting a licence approval / Image Credit: BPP

Since the commencement of the PSA in January last year, around 170 applicants have applied to provide digital payment token services, said Mr Tharman.

At that time, about 30 applications were withdrawn after engagement with MAS while two had been rejected. Around 90 service providers are operating under an exemption from holding a licence, he said.

Licence applicants are subject to close scrutiny in the licensing process and ongoing supervision by MAS.

“MAS takes a serious view of weaknesses in controls to address money laundering and terrorism financing, and technology risks, and will reject applicants who fail to meet the required standards,” the central bank said.

Who has been approved for a licence?

Eight-year-old crypto exchange Independent Reserve said earlier this month it is one of the first virtual asset service providers to obtain an in-principle approval letter for the much-coveted licence.

The exchange set up its first overseas operations in Singapore on 2019 to provide digital asset exchange and over-the-counter trading services to people and institutions in the country.

Meanwhile, DBS also got the green light to be one of the first few to receive an “in principle” approval from the country’s financial regulator to offer crypto services.

DBS has gotten an “in principle” approval to offer crypto services / Image Credit: Latest Crypto

The approval comes as DBS recently issued a S$15 million (US$11.3 million) digital bond in its first security token offering via its DBS Digital Exchange (DDex). The bank said it’s working through the necessary steps with a focus on meeting MAS’ requirements.

In a response to the media, an MAS spokesperson said that MAS has notified several providers of digital payment token services that it is prepared to grant regulatory consent for them to operate in the city state.

It added that the applicants who have received such notifications from MAS do not yet hold payment services licences. “A licence will be subsequently granted to an applicant, provided it puts in place necessary measures to meet MAS’ requirements in order to operate as a licensee,” she said, adding that the MAS continues to review the outstanding digital payment token applications.

How does this benefit consumers?

The central bank’s approvals serve as an encouraging sign to other firms awaiting clearance from the MAS, as the city-state moves towards a fully regulated digital payments sector. The regulation is set to promote greater use of payment tokens which can reduce settlement time and costs, bringing digital payment tokens into mainstream use.

When its licence is granted, DBS said it will be able to directly support managers and companies via its DDex, where they will gain access to its digital payment token services.

Singapore moves towards a fully regulated digital payments sector / Image Credit: Unsplash

Commenting on what an in-principle approval means for Independent Reserve, the exchange’s Singapore managing director Raks Sondhi had said: “While operationally, things will not change from receiving the in-principle approval, consumers will have the peace of mind that we and others that will receive their in-principle approvals have met MAS’s high standards.”

It added that being one of the first few companies to be approved an “in-principle” licensing reflects the robustness of the policies, procedures and risk management systems that the firm has put in place to guide its day-to-day operations.

This provides certainty for the crypto firm’s operations in the country as well as security for customers who use its services.

The move to formalise cryptocurrency payment services also grants the Singapore government greater oversight and control over activities. As licensed entities, customers are assured of the central bank’s purview over the companies’ operations, which makes it a better safeguard for users. The central bank is likely to take any company to task if it is not compliant with any regulatory standards.

Observers said that the development is likely to accelerate the number of cryptocurrency firms moving to Singapore. The city state has long been viewed favourably by those in financial services for its political stability and regulators that are open to experimentation.


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Also Read: What are crypto securities and why they are about to give the finance industry a facelift

What are crypto securities and why they are about to give the finance industry a facelift

Security tokens

Fractional investing in security tokens may be the buzzword among those in Singapore’s busy finance industry these days.

By 2024, the market of security tokens could exceed that of cryptocurrencies, and there’s an estimated US$544 trillion worth of assets that could be tokenised.

In just the European Union region alone, this market is expected to reach US$1.5 trillion in the next three years.

We may not see or feel it now, but the wheels are already in motion. Just like how bicycles were upgraded to cars as transport vehicles, and how the media industry has been transformed from print to digital, digitalisation is set to revolutionise the finance industry in the form of crypto tech.

Blockchain technology is revolutionising finance trade deal operations / Image Credit: The Smart Local

Singapore’s largest bank DBS is one of the early adopters in tokenising investment products. It recently placed investment assets, like bonds, on the blockchain. The bank said it wants to help investors better diversify their debt instruments.

These financial assets are ready to be transformed by blockchain technology and a “J-curve adoption” is expected over the next one year to one-and-a-half years, some experts are saying.

“We expect smart securities to reach the board level with appropriate business cases being built,” Tuhina Singh, CEO at licensed digital asset custody service provider Propine said.

What are fractional assets and how can we benefit from them? We explore what’s this new trend and why banks and finance firms are shifting into this space.

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Why are banks tokenising financial products

Tokenised financial assets can include products like bonds, futures, commodities, and stocks.

Digital security tokens are virtual tokens that digitally represent, and are smaller fractions of, the original asset. The tokenisation of assets and the transactions pertaining to digital tokens have been made possible by leveraging blockchain technology. 

For consumers, digital tokens make such assets much more accessible and attainable. This is because they’re available in smaller lot sizes.

For example, DBS’ S$15 million digital bond is its digital exchange’s first security token offering (STO). The DBS Digital Bond comes with a six-month tenor and coupon rate of 0.6 per cent per annum, traded in board lots of S$10,000.

The denomination is smaller compared to traditional wholesale bonds, which often require investment and trading amounts in multiples of S$250,000.

Image Credit: DBS

In the announcement for the digital bonds earlier this year, DBS’ group head of capital markets Eng-Kwok Seat Moey said the inaugural listing of an STO represents a new way of unlocking value for issuers and investors.

Existing legal and tax infrastructure requirements are combined through the bond tokenisation exercise, which allows for a direct issuance on the digital exchange in smaller lot sizes.

HSBC is another bank that recently completed a digital bond issuance on digital asset exchange Marketnode, in conjunction with a S$1 billion perpetual securities issue by Singtel Group.

HSBC had said that the digital bond issuance was conducted along with a traditional bond issuance, as part of the Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) ongoing pilot to assess the use of digital assets in streamlining processes within the Asian bond market.

In June, UOB also pilot a digital bond issuance of S$600 million by tapping Marketnode’s digital asset issuance, depository and servicing platform. The digital bond is run in parallel with the conventional issuance process.

Marketnode is a joint venture between the SGX and investment company Temasek. It is an exchange-led digital asset venture focused on capital markets workflows through smart contracts, ledger, and tokenisation technologies.

Digital asset exchange Marketnode is a joint venture between the SGX and Temasek / Image Credit: The Edge SG

According to banks and industry observers, tokenisation makes the process of issuing a bond very seamless, at a very low cost while being efficient.

Being able to fractionalise assets reduces the minimum investment thresholds for investors, and this gives investors more opportunities to diversify their investment portfolios and participate in private markets, generating more liquidity as well.

Buying assets in smaller value benefits consumers

Fractional token investments creates greater chances for people to invest as it lowers the entry point and opens the trading market up for more investors.

For example, a person who has S$50,000 in cash, can invest in five different digital bonds now compared to previously, where they may not even qualify for traditional wholesale bonds which requires a minimum investment of S$250,000.

Singapore’s progressive development of its legal and tax infrastructure has facilitated more STO issuances which helps to broaden and deepen the country’s sophisticated capital market.

The benefits of security token offerings / Image Credit: Fintech Advisory Services

With DBS’ recent STO, more digital securities transactions are likely to follow a similar issuance structure, combining existing legal and tax infrastructure requirements with a direct issuance.

According to DBS, its digital bond strictly adheres to the current bond legal framework, thereby according investors the same legal certainties and protections over their rights as traditional bonds.

The new structure that frontier banks are creating will set a precedent for future banks to follow and participate in this growth industry.

It helps to lower costs and reduce errors

By digitising securities like bonds, the tokenisation process saves substantial costs – from issuance to post-trade costs in the secondary market.

Smart contracts via blockchain technology enable the automation of otherwise manual processes during issuances.

For example, smart contracts can be programmed for certain tasks such as issuance, distribution, and post-sale, including corporate actions such as coupon payments. This reduces the risks of error-prone processes and improves operational efficiency.

No need to deal with multiple intermediaries with the immutable transaction data / Image Credit: Deloitte

The underlying blockchain technology also provides greater credibility as transaction records are immutable, which means that they are unable to be changed.

Hence, this cuts out the many steps previously required and allow for cost savings. Financial institutions do not need to deal with multiple intermediaries like in a traditional fundraising process and can have a faster speed to market.

Time limitations ease, better liquidity movement

With token asset structures, the usually illiquid asset classes in traditional securities become liquid. Sellers are no longer confined to a small pool of highly liquid investors. Instead, fractional ownership allows for more investors to enter the market. Some platforms also allow investors to cash out anytime.

In addition, these platforms allow ease to trade. For example, some security token trading platforms are open round the clock for trading, all day, all week, from anywhere in the world. Participants just need to have an internet connection.

asset tokenisation
Round the clock securities trading enabled for some platforms / Image Credit: PixelPlex

This contrasts with traditional exchanges like the SGX and Wall Street for example, which operate on weekdays and during normal office hours.

The fintech boom

The world of asset ownership is set to change. Other than traditional banks getting in the game, this growing industry is set to create new platforms, new client servicing methods, tech development, among others.

In March this year, crypto exchange Binance signed a memorandum of understanding with Singapore-regulated private markets platform CapBridge to broaden its services. The legally non-binding agreement indicates that the two firms intend to build a strategic STO.

For other newly created digital securities platforms like ADDX, they will have to work on building their credibility as they scale their products. The platform is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a financial institution last year for the issuance, custody, and secondary trading of digital securities or security tokens.

Image Credit: Evercity

The most recent securities product from ADDX was in May where it released a S$150 million (US$113 million) commercial paper program in digital securities with financial services firm CGS-CIMB.

Having strong backers will help these platforms stand out and attract more customers. ADDX, whose shareholders include SGX, Temasek subsidiary Heliconia Capital, and government-backed Development Bank of Japan, has already launched three bond STOs to date and plans to list at least 20 STOs this year, more than double of the deals completed in 2020.


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Also Read: As firms explore IPO overseas, SGX’s SPAC plans might be key in luring them to list in S’pore

DBS Vickers receives MAS approval for crypto trading services

dbs vickers

DBS Vickers, the brokerage arm of DBS Bank, announced yesterday (August 12) that it has received in-principal approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) under the Payment Services Act (PS Act) to provide digital payment token services as a major payment institution.

This makes them Singapore’s second crypto player to secure an in-principle approval from MAS to offer token services, after Australian crypto exchange Independent Reserve was allowed to operate as a fully regulated digital asset service provider last week.

According to the press release, DBS Vickers — which is part of the DBS Digital Exchange (DDEX) — will be able to directly support asset managers and companies to trade in digital payment tokens once they receive the full license.

It is currently still unclear when the service will be rolled out as DBS Vickers is working through the necessary follow-ups towards meeting MAS’ requirements for the operating licence.

Eng-Kwok Seat Moey, Group Head of Capital Markets at DBS, commented: “We are pleased to have made steady progress on our digital asset ecosystem in the six months since we launched the DDEx last year, and this shows in our trading and custody activity.”

“We have seen keen interest among asset managers and corporates for access to digital payment token services, and with DBSV receiving in-principle approval under the PS Act, we are well-placed to meet this growing demand. This could add to DDEx’s volumes in the coming months, and coupled with DDEx going operational round the-clock, help accelerate growth for DDEx.”

Eng-Kwok Seat Moey, Group Head of Capital Markets at DBS
Eng-Kwok Seat Moey, Group Head of Capital Markets at DBS / Image Credit: Bitcoin Channel

“We are confident of doubling our investor base by the end of the year. This bodes well for our ability to provide integrated solutions across the digital asset value chain notably in the form of STOs, leveraging DBS’ expertise in deal origination to tokenisation, listing, distribution, trading and custody. This will contribute to Singapore’s ambitions to be a digital asset hub in Asia,” she added.

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Steady growth of digital exchange

Since the launch of DBS’ digital exchange, around 400 institutional and accredited investors have been onboarded to trade on the exchange as at end-June 2021. This is up from just 120 investors the quarter before, representing a growth of more than 233 per cent growth in numbers.

The digital exchange, also recorded close to S$180 million in total trading value in the second quarter this year, more than five times the value traded in the previous quarter. The bank also revealed that it has over S$130 million in digital assets in its custodial services. 

Currently, traders are able to trade four cryptocurrencies on the DBS Digital exchange: Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and XRP.

In the previous earnings call, DBS’ CEO Piyush shared an optimistic view of the future of cryptocurrency.

I do think given the amount of interest in all the four cryptos that we trade now, that interest is quite high. And therefore, I do think it will pick up. But whether it picks up to tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of income over the next few years, it’s hard to say.

So my thinking is, we should get in there, figure it out and grow and then we’ll get a better sense for how big this could be in time.

– Piyush Gupta, DBS CEO

MAS continues to sift through applications

Other than DBS Vickers, a few other applicants were recently notified by MAS recently that they too will be granted the payment services licenses under the Payment Services Act.

They are among the first batch of licenses recipient to be able to operate digital payment token services in Singapore.

MAS also shared with Forkast News that they have received over 170 license applications by digital payment token service providers. Thirty applications were withdrawn after engagement with MAS, and two were rejected.

Featured Image Credit: DBS Vickers / Edgar Su via Reuters


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


Also Read: A map of the crypto landscape in S’pore: who are the key players cashing in on the boom?

Grab and Binance founder among new entrants to Forbes’ 2021 list of top 50 richest in S’pore

Forbes richest Singapore

Superapp Grab’s co-founder Anthony Tan made it as one of the three new additions to Forbes’ Singapore 50 richest people this year. Alongside him was Binance founder and chief executive Zhao Changpeng, as well as founder of nanotech solutions Nanofilm Dr Shi Xu.

The richest man in Singapore this year is Li Xiting, founder of ventilator maker Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics.

Venture capitalist and co-founder of Facebook Eduardo Saverin came second on this year’s list, while paints tycoon Goh Cheng Liang came in third.

The combined net worth of Singapore’s 50 richest people climbed 25 per cent to S$282 billion (US$208 billion) this year, with 42 people’s individual net worth reaching more than S$1.4 billion (US$1 billion).

One-fifth of those listed this year are tech tycoons. Other tech founders on the list include Sea Limited’s Forrest Li, Ye Gang, and David Chen.

The pandemic had impacted certain sectors including the food and beverage industry, and Hotpot chain Haidilao’s Zhang Yong and Shu Pink slipped down the rankings from first last year to fourth place. Their net worth dipped from US$19 billion to US$16 billion.

Here’s a quick look at some of Singapore’s richest people:

Number 1: Li Xiting (US$23 billion)

Image Credit: South China Morning Post

Li Xiting made his wealth through selling medical devices. He is the founder and chairman of medical devices supplier Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, and has a net worth of US$23 billion.

The 70-year-old holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Science and Technology of China.

During the pandemic, Mindray donated US$4.6 million worth of medical devices to hospitals in hard-hit areas like China’s Wuhan and northern Italy.

Number 2: Eduardo Saverin (US$20.5 billion)

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Eduardo Saverin is best known as the co-founder of Facebook. The 39-year-old is now a venture capitalist, but still derives most of his wealth from his small stake in the tech giant.

In 2016, he launched venture fund B Capital, with BCG and Bain Capital veteran Raj Ganguly. The fund has US$1.4 billion of assets under management.

Eduardo has been a Singapore resident since renouncing his US citizenship in 2012 ahead of Facebook’s public listing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSD-A1fnoZR/

Number 3: Goh Cheng Liang (US$18.6 billion)

Image Credit: Billionaire Monitor

94-year-old Goh Cheng Liang started off making paints in a small factory in Singapore before he went on to partner with Japan’s Nippon Paint in 1962.

Today, he gets the bulk of his wealth from a stake in the Japanese firm, which is the fourth largest paint manufacturer in the world. In March this year, the company celebrated its 140th anniversary.

Nippon Paint has partnered with the University of Tokyo for research on new products that offer protection against Covid-19.

Number 22: Zhao Changpeng (US$1.9 billion)

Image Credit: Forbes

45-year-old Zhao Changpeng goes by the nickname “CZ”, and is the founder and CEO of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

In 2020, Binance reached US$2 trillion in total trading volume, and its Binance Coin (BNB) is now the third-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Zhao is temporarily based in Singapore. Binance has been facing regulatory scrutiny in several countries, and Zhao had said that he is working with the authorities for the betterment of the cryptocurrency industry.

Number 47: Anthony Tan (US$790 million)

Image Credit: Financial Times

Anthony Tan is the chief executive and co-founder of Southeast Asia’s dominant ride-hailing app, Grab. The 39-year-old struck out on his own in 2012 to run Grab – he is the son of Tan Heng Chew, the president of Tan Chong Motor.

Grab now offers services in eight countries and has branched out into motorcycle taxis, delivery services, and software research and development.

The tech giant is working on listing on the public market via a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC deal as soon as the end of this year. The deal is set to value the company at S$54 billion (US$40 billion).

Anthony is listed on Forbes as a Singapore Citizen. The entrepreneur recently made the news with a purchase of a good class bungalow near Holland Village for S$40 million.

Forbes rich list selection criteria

Forbes measures the entrants’ net worth based on stock prices and exchange rates. The list includes family fortunes and those shared among extended families.

Foreign citizens who reside in Singapore, as well as those who are not residents but have significant business or other ties to the Republic, can also be included in the list.


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Featured Image Credit: Financial Times, Forbes

Also Read: Grab, Razer, Secretlab CEOs’ recent property buys reveal their ultra high net worth standings

As Bitcoin surges over US$40,000, one chart reveals how far crypto still has to go

bitcoin price

(Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the writer)

BTC made headlines after a sudden jump from over US$34,000 to over US$40,000 yesterday, settling at around US$37,500, over 18 per cent higher than a week ago.

That in itself isn’t anything new or extraordinary, of course. As a matter of fact, what I am writing here isn’t going to be surprising to many — but, as a resident, cautious crypto skeptic, I think it’s also not something that is given much mainstream publicity, particularly in the current environment.

Despite the fact that we currently have more tools, apps, wallets, more sophisticated exchanges and even more cryptocurrencies than just a few years ago, the simple reality is that the entire market is maturing quite slowly.

In many ways, it is just like it was during the rally of 2017/18. Technological sophistication isn’t followed by functional sophistication, at least not on a sufficiently large scale thus far.

And there is one simple metric to show it: cross-currency correlation.

If you’re a keen observer, you would probably have noticed that pretty much all cryptocurrencies tend to move in tandem. When BTC is going up, so does every other coin. The same happens when it’s losing value.

Yesterday’s jump was no different and produced similar results, as you can see below:

crypto price
Image Credit: Coingecko

Pretty much all currencies saw a rapid surge in their USD price to then suffer a drop, settling above the previous rates.

This phenomenon isn’t new, and has been observed for about as long as cryptocurrencies existed — though it tends to get more pronounced during high interest, bull markets involving more people than just technology nerds.

It has spawned many conspiracy theories that the crypto whales or major hedge funds collaborate in secret to pump and dump currencies as they please, to reap profits at the expense of the smaller traders, particularly as cryptocurrencies are largely unregulated and highly anonymous.

The answer may be quite a bit simpler.

The reality is that it shows how young and rough the entire market still is. That despite all of the seemingly vast differences in features, technology or even supply of the coins play a minor role, and all of them are largely treated as one asset class more than independent, competing tokens with highly distinct characteristics.

In the current reality, few people seem to be making investment decisions based on technological superiority of one coin over another and the demand is not yet driven by any real life use (since few actually need crypto to buy anything) either.

There are also both individuals and companies putting money into baskets of currencies, which further reinforces correlation between them.

And it is also visible with minor coins, that most people would not even be aware of, likely pointing to speculation determined by the moves of the dominant currencies like BTC or ETH.

What you see below is a chart showing the strength of correlation between various cryptocurrencies across 30 days versus one year (the 2nd image). Correlation is measured on a scale from -1.0 to 1.0, meaning that:

  • When two currencies are correlated 1.0, they move in the same direction 100 per cent of the time
  • At -1.0, they move in the opposite direction 100 per cent of the time
  • 0.0 indicates they are independent of each other

cryptocurrency correlation
Correlation over the past 30 days / Image Credit: Cryptowat.ch

As you can see, over the past month (it’s similar over a day and seven days) the strongest positive correlation is seen with Bitcoin — mostly 70 per cent to over 80 per cent of the time, other coins will follow the leader.

But more interestingly, pretty much all crypto coins are moving in tandem more than 50 per cent of the time, even in most exotic pairs.

cryptocurrency correlation
Correlation over the past one year / Image Credit: Cryptowat.ch

When we look at the entire year however, factoring in the period before the current surge that started towards the end of 2020, the relationships between different coins are demonstrably weaker.

It suggests that the current bull market is driven largely by speculation, without any appreciable understanding of the differences between various currencies (contrary to how the trading looked beforehand). Any and every crypto becomes a buy until it follows the trends set by BTC and/or ETH.

The markets are flushed with dumb money seeking quick returns, largely ignoring the technological side of what particular cryptocurrencies offer.

Unsurprisingly, this has also spurred creation of many new spin-off tokens, which have often surged in value, even if there is no useful case for their existence.

Crypto will mature with the decline of Bitcoin

We will only be able to speak of the maturing of cryptofinance when different currencies are traded on the basis of their different applications or technological advantages and disadvantages. When fundamentals, instead of pure speculation or technical analysis looking for profitable patterns in a highly volatile environment, are driving their value.

When they become detached from Bitcoin or any other market leader and are able to hold their own.

BTC itself is a symbol of many ills of the nascent cryptofinance. Fundamentally, there isn’t any functional reason for its existence as it does not really make transactions in any way better, safer, faster or cheaper.

It’s expensive (often unpredictably so) as a medium of exchange, transactions take a long time to settle (and you can buy whatever you want with the fiat money you already have, that is accepted everywhere).

It has recently seen emphasis on its function as a store of value — but for that, it would still have to have some unique and practical use (gold, that it is often compared to, is at least a tangible, mineable resource).

Yet, because it started everything — it’s the “foundational” cryptocurrency and the most widely accepted one — it is still seen as the best point of reference, regardless of its technical limitations.

Decline in its importance will be one of the signs of evolution of the industry as it is solving more problems, building a stronger case for its existence.

Just like today, the strong correlation not only with BTC but between even seemingly unrelated, obscure coins, shows how still unsophisticated the crypto market is, the future weakening of this correlation is going to be one of the early signs of its maturing and possible mainstream adoption.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


From 1 July 2021, Vulcan Post’s premium articles will be hidden behind a paywall. Subscribers will be able to enjoy exclusive articles with a deeper level of coverage and insight on verticals that include government technology, electric vehicles, cryptocurrency and e-commerce. You can check out our premium articles here and subscribe to us here.


Featured Image Credit: Tom Stepanov via Shutterstock

Also Read: Forget Elon Musk: China and the US have just killed cryptocurrency decentralisation

Gemini APAC’s MD on crypto in S’pore: “Regulation is what is going to drive deeper adoption”

jeremy ng gemini

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

gemini crypto exchange
Image Credit: Blockonomi

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.

tyler and cameron winklevoss gemini
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, co-founders of Gemini / Image Credit: Bloomberg

“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?

bitcoin singapore
Image Credit: CCN

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRTFEEqHnje/

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.

decentralized finance
Image Credit: Blockchain Simplified

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.”

bank failures
Image Credit: Vantage Point Trading

“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.”


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. Follow our coverage on the space here.


From 1 July 2021, Vulcan Post’s premium articles will be hidden behind a paywall. Subscribers will be able to enjoy exclusive articles with a deeper level of coverage and insight on verticals that include government technology, electric vehicles, cryptocurrency and e-commerce. You can check out our premium articles here and subscribe to us here.


Featured Image Credit: The Edge

Also Read: Tokocrypto CEO on how he built Indonesia’s leading crypto exchange despite being a S’porean

S’pore’s beefing up investments in crypto: Here are 10 firms Temasek, GIC have invested in

Temasek GIC

Interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency has surged to new heights within the past year.

The rise in cryptocurrency acceptance from the public has been accompanied by increased institutional interest, including big names like DBS, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan. 

Like the rest of the world, interest in cryptocurrencies in Singapore has also been growing. 

PwC Singapore’s survey for the Singapore Blockchain Ecosystem Report 2020 assessed the developments of blockchain-related activities in Singapore, with blockchain emerging as one of the top three technology trends in Singapore for 2021. 

Singapore has long been a financial hub and economic powerhouse, and with Asia’s two largest countries — India and China — banning or restricting access to crypto, Singapore has emerged as a haven for blockchain and crypto companies in the region. 

Government initiatives and institutional support from banks like DBS has heightened cryptocurrency’s visibility, legitimacy and acceptance amongst Singaporean audiences as a valued asset class. 

According to Global Macro Investor Raoul Pal, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings has been purchasing Bitcoin from miners. 

This was revealed by Raoul during a recent podcast appearance. He also repeated the same claim on Twitter, though this information was not confirmed by Temasek Holdings.

However, Temasek Holdings has made 346 investments to date, which include portfolio companies that are in the blockchain or cryptocurrency space.

Meanwhile, GIC is one of the three investment entities in Singapore, alongside the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Temasek. It manages most of the government’s financial assets, investing for the long-term with an aim to preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of the funds placed in its care.

In recent years, GIC has also showed interest in the crypto and blockchain industry, and has backed various companies in the space.

Here’s a list of companies in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space that Temasek Holdings and GIC has invested in:

1. Temasek-backed Binance

Binance CEO
Image Credit: Binance

Binance is one of the world’s largest exchanges in the crypto industry.

Its crypto exchange allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other. Binance offers a wide range of services to users across the globe, from crypto spot and derivatives trading to tokenised versions of stocks.

Last month, Binance’s trading volumes reached US$662 billion, up almost ten-fold from July last year, according to data from CryptoCompare. According to Glassdoor, the company has grown to hit an annual revenue of almost US$1 billion.

Binance launched its Singapore crypto exchange in 2019, enabling users to purchase and sell crypto assets like Bitcoin using the Singapore dollar through the fast and secure transfers (FAST) electronic funds transfer system.

Binance’s Singapore arm was launched officially in the same year. Called Binance Asia Services, it is backed by Temasek-unit Vertex Holdings.

According to a report by The Business Times, the amount of the investment by the Singapore state investment firm was not disclosed.

2. Temasek-backed Reebonz

reebonz
Image Credit: The Vault Online

Headquarted in Singapore and founded in 2009, Reebonz is a leading online luxury marketplace and platform in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific region.

In January 2020, the firm announced that it implemented blockchain technology as “part of its ecosystem strategy to establish the provenance of products”.

All products sold by Reebonz from its inventory since January 2019 have a digital certificate. This digital certificate bears a QR code which contains information such as product details, transaction details, history, and provenance of ownership.

Products can be verified through the Reebonz mobile application, which will provide the digital certificate.

According to Reebonz founder CEO and co-founder Samuel Lim, the company hoped to provide the “first-of-its-lind tracking and authentication tools for luxury products in Asia.

A report by Deal Street Asia stated that in 2019, Vertex Ventures acquired US$5 million worth of common shares in Reebonz Holding Limited, the entity created after the merger of Reebonz with US-based Draper Oakwood Technology Acquisition.

Vertex Ventures is also listed as a key investor of Reebonz on Crunchbase, and invested in Reebonz’s Series C funding round.

Reebonz has raised a total of US$64 milion in funding over three rounds.

3. Temasek-backed PayPal

paypal
Image Credit: Business Insider

Most of us are no stranger to PayPal. It is a financial service company that provides online payment solutions to its users worldwide.

In 2020, PayPal announced the launch of a new service enabling its customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency directly from their PayPal account. Cryptocurrency is available as a funding source for purchases at its 26 million merchants worldwide.

This year, it also announced that in the United States, customers who hold bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin in PayPal digital wallets are able to convert their holdings into fiat currencies at checkouts to make purchases.

“This is the first time you can seamlessly use cryptocurrencies in the same way as a credit card or a debit card inside your PayPal wallet,” President and CEO Dan Schulman told Reuters.

PayPal has raised a total of US$216 million in funding over five rounds. According to Crunchbase data, both Temasek and Vertex Holdings were investors in PayPal’s Series C round in in April 2000.

4. Temasek-backed R3

r3
Image Credit: Fintech News

R3 is an enterprise blockchain software firm working with an ecosystem of more than 300 members and partners across multiple industries to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform.

The Corda platform is already being used in industries from financial services to healthcare, shipping, insurance and more. It records, manages, executes institutions’ financial agreements in synchrony with their peers, creating a world of frictionless commerce.

In April this year, R3 signed a Memorandum of Intent with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Tramés, a Singapore-based supply chain orchestration technology startup, to accelerate global trade and supply chain digitalisation.

The MOI will support the collaboration and adoption of a new digital solution built by Tramés using R3’s blockchain platform Corda Enterprise and IMDA’s TradeTrust digital utility.

R3 has raised a total of US$112 million in funding over two rounds. Temasek Holdings was one of its lead investors in its first funding round in 2017, where it raised US$107 million in total.

5. Temasek-backed TrueLayer

truelayer
Image Credit: Tech Crunch

TrueLayer is a fintech platform utilised to build financial apps that connect to bank data, verify accounts, and access transactions in real-time.

According to the firm, it has a team of crypto experts that work with its clients to “elevate the entire trading experience with instant deposits and withdrawals, all through a single integration”.

TrueLayer has raised a total of US$141.8 million in funding over seven rounds. Its latest funding was raised on April 8 this year, from a Series D round. One of its clients is MoonPay — a global payment solution for cryptocurrency.

Temasek Holdings, together with Tencent, was one of its lead investors in its Series C funding round in 2019, where it raised US$35 million in total.

6. Temasek-backed FNZ

fnz
Image Credit: NS Business

FNZ is a fintech firm that partners with financial institutions to enable them to provide multi-channel wealth management services to their clients across direct, intermediated, and workplace channels. 

 It partners with banks, insurers and asset managers to help consumers better achieve their financial goals.  

Last year, FNZ partnered with a consortium of global fund managers including Aberdeen Standard, Equity Trustees Fund Services, Kames Capital, Legg Mason and Merian Global Investors to launch the world’s first production blockchain-powered market infrastructure for asset management.

Called FNZ ChainClear, it leverages blockchain technology to replace the copies of transactions and holdings in the managed funds industry with a single, secure, verifiable source universally accessible by all parties.

It essentially eliminates the effort of reconciliations, enables real-time settlement of trades and real-time fund transfers. 

In 2020, the firm announced that Temasek joined its existing investors Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Generation Investment Management LLP (Generation), in a deal that valued the company at nearly £1.7 billion (US$2.02 billion).

7. Temasek-backed Nium

nium
Image Credit: Nium

Nium is a Singapore-based, advanced payments platform redefining the way consumers and businesses send, spend, and receive funds across borders. 

The firm leverages upon Ripple’s advanced blockchain technology to process transactions in real-time for its customers.

Besides creating a faster, more reliable payments experience for its customers, being on the blockchain also amounted to significant offtake in the total volume of remittances.

Nium is the first in the region to offer corridors from North and South America into a number of destinations in Southeast Asia.

Nium has raised a total of US$80 million in funding over six rounds. Two of its six lead investors include Vertex Ventures and Temasek Holdings.

8. GIC-backed Coinbase

Coinbase
Image Credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Coinbase is a digital currency exchange headquartered in San Francisco, California.

The firm was started in 2012 with the idea that anyone, anywhere, should be able to easily and securely send and receive Bitcoin. Today, it offers a trusted and easy-to-use platform for accessing the broader cryptoeconomy.

GIC was among investors who raised US$300 million for Coinbase in 2018.

In April this year, Coinbase became the first major cryptocurrency company to go public when it made its stock market debut.

9. GIC-backed OSL

osl
Image Credit: OSL

OSL is a digital asset platform, and is a gateway to the digital asset capital markets. OSL Singapore is certified by the Singapore FinTech Association as a blockchain, digital asset and financial inclusion provider.

This June, GIC invested HK$543.19 million (US$70 million) in Hong Kong-listed BC Group, the parent company of regulated crypto exchange OSL.

10. GIC-backed Anchorage

anchorage
Image Credit: Anchorage

Anchorage is a premier digital asset platform for institutions.

Founded in 2017 to meet the growing need for institutional custody that lets investors safely hold and use crypto, Anchorage has grown into a full-service financial platform and infrastructure provider for the digital asset space.

The company offers crypto-native financial products and services, such as staking, governance, financing and lending, trading, and DeFi (decentralised finance).

Anchorage is also a Founding Member of the Libra Association, an independent not-for-profit group responsible for the operation and governance of the Libra network.

In March, GIC has led a US$80 million Series C funding in the US-based digital asset platform.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRQxsiNHpUt/

What does this mean for Singapore?

Vertex is the oldest venture capital firm in Southeast Asia, and its aggressive investment in the crypto market is a nod to a relatively new industry that is starting to see institutional money slowly back projects.

Furthermore, Temasek’s investment philosophy has been underpinned by four investment themes — transforming economies, growing middle income populations, deepening comparative advantages, and emerging champions.

By investing in crypto or blockchain related companies, Temasek Holdings has signalled that it sees potential in these industries.

Temasek Holdings investments
Structural trends which define the long term direction of Temasek Holding’ investments / Image Credit: Temasek Holdings

“We expect to increasingly shape our portfolio in line with such trends, including engaging our existing companies to transform their businesses where needed, and investing in companies that are developing innovative solutions to disrupt old business models or create new ones,” said Temasek Holdings.

To add on, the news of GIC funding Coinbase came as a surprise as CEO Lim Chow Kiat previously said that GIC would avoid crypto-related investments as it goes against GIC’s investment mandate.

However, GIC has been investing in the technology space since its founding, according to its ‘ODE to technology’ framework.

GIC Investment Framework
GIC’s ‘Ode to technology’ framework / Image Credit: GIC

According to this framework, offence refers to gaining from technological disruption by investing in the winners of this shift, while defence refers to protecting its existing investments as they face disruption.

It can be interpreted that GIC has invested in crypto-related companies as it possibly sees them as a disruptor in the fintech space.

Temasek Holdings and GIC's investments in blockchain, crypto-related companies
Temasek Holdings and GIC’s investments in blockchain, crypto-related companies / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Indeed, most of Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds’ investments in cryptocurrency or blockchain-based companies have been made in recent years.

Even though the use of cryptocurrency is still in nascent stages in Singapore, there is still a lot of interest driven by both consumers, businesses and institutional investors.

The growing amount of use cases available in Singapore also points to its large growth potential, signalling that the crypto and blockchain industry in Singapore is only going to grow in the coming years.

Featured Image Credit: CNBC / Financial Times / Nasdaq

Also Read: A map of the crypto landscape in S’pore: who are the key players cashing in on the boom?

All you need to know about Binance: how will the latest crypto crackdown affect S’pore users?

Binance

Singapore’s central bank said last week it will “follow up” with popular crypto trading platform Binance as appropriate.

This is in light of the actions taken by other regulators. Britain for example, has barred the company from carrying out regulated activities there.

On Thursday (July 7), Binance stepped forward and said that it is committed to working with regulators and putting in place systems to protect users’ interests.

In a letter published on the firm’s website, Binance founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng acknowledged the need for the development of formal guidelines to prevent misuse of cryptocurrencies globally.

Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng
Zhao has said that he will work with global regulators and protect users / Image Credit: Binance

He said that more regulations are, in fact, positive signs that the industry is maturing.

Binance’s Singapore arm is called Binance Asia Services. It runs the Binance.sg platform and is well-known among Singaporeans trading in bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies.

We take a look at why Binance is facing regulatory scrutiny and how it may impact consumers here.

What is Binance and what does it do?

Binance is one of the world’s largest exchanges in the crypto industry.

Its crypto exchange allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other. Binance offers a wide range of services to users across the globe, from crypto spot and derivatives trading to tokenised versions of stocks.

binance team
A photo of the Binance team / Image Credit: Binance

Last month, Binance’s trading volumes reached US$662 billion, up almost ten-fold from July last year, according to data from CryptoCompare. According to Glassdoor, the company has grown to hit an annual revenue of almost US$1 billion.

Its own cryptocurrency, Binance Coin, is the fourth-biggest in the world in terms of market cap.

Binance Coin, traded around only S$20-levels in the past, not until the crypto hype in March which caused its token to spike to an all time high of S$915. It is currently hovering around S$430 a piece after China’s recent crypto crackdown.

binance coin price
Binance Coin is the fourth largest crypto in the world by trading volume / Image Credit: Coinbase

Binance’s corporate structure is said to be opaque, with its holding company widely reported to be registered in the Cayman Islands. Its company website states that it has over 2,000 employees in more than 20 locations worldwide.

Is Binance legal in Singapore?

Binance launched its Singapore crypto exchange in 2019, enabling users to purchase and sell crypto assets like Bitcoin using the Singapore dollar through the fast and secure transfers (FAST) electronic funds transfer system.

Binance’s Singapore arm was launched officially in the same year. Called Binance Asia Services, it is backed by Temasek-unit Vertex Holdings.

binance blockchain week singapore 2019
Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng at the firm’s blockchain event in 2019 / Image Credit: Binance

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Binance Asia Services is exempt from holding a licence under the Payment Services Act for the provision of digital payment token services. This is while its licence application is being reviewed.

The company has established its presence in Singapore. Its local address is registered to be Guoco Tower, on 1 Wallich Street. That’s located at Tanjong Pagar, the downtown core district of Singapore.

When Vulcan Post ran a check on its career page, it showed that the company is currently actively hiring more than 50 roles for its Singapore office.

Why are regulators flagging it?

Binance has faced heavy scrutiny from global regulators in recent months. The most prominent regulatory tussle was Britain barring the company from carrying out regulated activities there.

That’s due to the crypto exchange’s growing popularity in Britain. Its app has been downloaded 1.8 million times this year, and 2.2 million times in total, according to mobile data firm Sensor Tower.

This does not come as a surprise as Binance has built up a huge following globally, as seen by its Telegram channels for users in more than 30 countries.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority had said that the exchange’s British arm cannot conduct any regulated activity, but did not provide an explanation. Britain generally does not regulate crypto trading, except for some activities like crypto derivatives.

binance bitcoin
The firm is committed to work with regulators / Image Credit: Reuters

The company has also been probed by various regulators and government agencies like Germany and Japan.

Japan’s regulator said last month Binance was operating in the country illegally, while Germany’s watchdog said in April it risked being fined for offering tokens connected to stocks.

It is said that the regulators are worried over the standard of anti-money laundering checks at crypto exchanges and the risks crypto trading poses to consumers. Hence, larger players that are entering new jurisdictions, like Binance, are facing the heat.

Will it get into regulatory issues here?

Binance has said that it takes its compliance obligations very seriously and is committed to following all regulatory requirements wherever it operates.

In a note to Binance users published on its website earlier this week, Zhao came forward to state the firm aims to continue its efforts in working with regulators to meet their concerns amid the growing crypto industry.

binance app
The Binance app / Image Credit: Bloomberg

Zhao said the firm had assisted some 5,600 investigation requests this year from law enforcement agencies around the world to crack down on cybercrimes such as money laundering, scams and terrorist financing.

Based on Zhao’s latest affirmation, Binance appears to stand ready to cooperate with regulators.

The CEO added that the company is beefing up its international compliance team to provide “high-level guidance” and has plans to double the team size by the end of the year.

He commented that setting the foundation for crypto rules properly will allow the broader population to feel safe to participate in crypto. By being cooperative, it will benefit the crypto industry as it allows for an opening up to the mass market, he noted.

“I believe a well-developed legal and regulatory framework in the long term will be a solid foundation that truly makes crypto essential in everyone’s daily life,” he said, adding that clarifying and building the first set of standards is critical for the industry’s continued growth.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


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Also Read: MAS to “follow up” with S’pore entity of crypto exchange Binance in wake of global crackdown

MAS and Bank of France experiments cross-border transactions in blockchain-based CBDC trial

MAS CBDC

In a joint announcement on Thursday (July 8), the Bank of France and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the successful completion of a wholesale cross-border payment and settlement experiment using central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The experiment, supported by J.P. Morgan’s Onyx, simulated cross-border transactions involving multiple CBDCs (m-CBDC) on a common network between Singapore and France.

It simulated cross-border and cross-currency transactions for Singapore Dollar (SGD) CBDC and €uro (EUR) CBDC, and was conducted using a permissioned, privacy-enabled blockchain based on Quorum technology.

While the experiment was limited to two central banks, the design of the m-CBDC network enables it to be scaled up to support the participation of multiple central banks and commercial banks located in different nations. 

What are central bank digital currencies?

A central bank digital currency uses an electronic record or digital token to represent the virtual form of a fiat currency of a particular nation. They act as a digital representation of a country’s fiat currency, and are backed by a suitable amount of reserves, like gold or foreign currency.

CBDCs are centralised, and are issued and regulated by the competent monetary authority of each country.

Like regular currency that carries a unique serial number, each CBDC unit will also be distinguishable to prevent imitation.

According to Investopia, The Bank of England was the pioneer to initiate the CBDC proposal. Following that, banks in other countries like China, Canada, Uruguay, Sweden, Thailand and Singapore also began looking into the possibility of producing a CBDC.

Key outcomes of the Singapore-France pilot

According to an announcement by the The Banque de France, four key outcomes were achieved from the experiment:

First, the experiment demonstrated interoperability across different types of cloud infrastructure. Blockchain nodes were set up across private and public cloud infrastructures in both countries.

Furthermore, the setup of an experimental m-CBDC network managed to incorporate automated liquidity pool and market-making service for EUR/SGD currency pairs. The use of smart contracts automatically managed the EUR/SGD currency exchange rate in line with real-time market transactions and demands.

The design of a common m-CBDC network also enabled the two central banks to have visibility on cross border payments, while retaining independent control over the issuance and distribution of their own CBDC.

Lastly, the simulation of an experimental m-CBDC network showed that the number of correspondent banking parties involved in the payment chain for cross-border transactions could be reduced.

Consequently, the number of contractual arrangements, the KYC (Know Your Customer) burden as well as the associated costs could be cut down.

Building a multi-currency shared ledger infrastructure allows participants across countries to transact with each other directly in different currencies. This m-CBDC experiment has broken new ground by decentralizing financial infrastructure, to improve liquidity management and market making services.  It charts the path for scalable CBDC networks where central banks and commercial banks can work together to achieve the vision of cheaper, safer and more efficient infrastructure for cross border payments.

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS


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Also Read: A map of the crypto landscape in S’pore: who are the key players cashing in on the boom?

From DBS to Alibaba’s Ant Group: Here are 6 companies in S’pore that are hiring crypto roles

crypto jobs

As Bitcoin and other digital assets go mainstream, more companies are wanting a piece of the action.

Singapore’s crypto-friendlier regulations are paving the way for the industry to grow and the fast pace of asset digitalisation is also a place of opportunity.

For a start, the Singapore government announced last year that it’s putting its money into strengthening the blockchain ecosystem by investing S$12 million, its first national effort to expand blockchain technology research. The investment will be to facilitate the development, commercialisation and adoption of wider real-world applications.

Image Credit: Bitcoin news

Naturally, there’s been increasing commercial adoption of distributed ledger technology and crypto-related business models in the republic.

For example, DBS’ new digital exchange reflects a growing interest in digital assets. Institutional interest in cryptocurrencies and digital assets have also increased in recent months.

Here are six companies who are expanding into this space in Singapore and not taking a break in ramping up crypto and/or blockchain-related hires.

DBS

Singapore’s largest bank DBS has made itself heard on its interest in the crypto space, such as trading and digital custody capabilities.

DBS has been actively exploring new revenue opportunities. It launched a digital exchange months ago and also announced a partnership with Temasek and J.P. Morgan to set up a new blockchain-based global payment platform.

DBS bank
DBS’ daily crypto trading value has increased more than 10 times since its launch / Image Credit: DBS

According to its last earnings report, DBS’ daily crypto trading value has increased more than 10 times since its launch, and it said its crypto trading business is building up steadily.

Most recently, it issued its first tokenised bond on the exchange.

The bank is ramping up its capabilities in this space, and has multiple job openings in Singapore for crypto and blockchain. That includes customer support and technical roles like blockchain developers and engineers.

Check out its job portal here.

Razer

Last month, gaming company Razer announced that it’s exploring a potential entry into the cryptocurrency space.

Tan had said that there is a nascent opportunity for Razer in the cryptocurrency space, given the wide reach of its Razer Fintech unit.

He said that it is unlikely that Razer will issue its own cryptocurrency, but he would not rule out the firm accepting one or more of the other currencies out there for its hardware and services.

Image Credit: Blokt

True to Tan’s word, Razer subsequently put up job ads recruiting a blockchain, crypto and decentralised finance (DeFi) lead in Singapore, to explore business opportunities and investments.

Razer is also searching for a global engineering head with the knowledge of crypto/blockchain mentioned as a desired skill.

Check out its job portal here.

Ant Group

Alibaba’s Ant Group has been known to be making large strides in the cryptosphere. It retained its top spot last year as the largest holder of blockchain patents.

Since 2015, the fintech firm has been making significant investments in blockchain research and development. Ant also owns China’s mobile payment app Alipay. It launched a blockchain-powered cross trade settlements platform last year.

Singapore is Alibaba’s international business arm, set up to support its globalisation strategy. Ant’s parent company Alibaba last year bought half of a commercial tower along Shenton Way, further cementing its presence here.

Image Credit: Reuters

The Singapore office focuses on building and designing Ant-chain based applications and solutions tailored for the overseas market and enterprises. With Ant winning the digital bank bid for a wholesale licence last year, the company is set to flex its tech capabilities here in Singapore even more.

Currently Ant has posted multiple blockchain-related Singapore roles such as engineering and for tech solutions. It’s also hiring a business development lead to accelerate the adoption of Ant’s innovations and applications.

Check out its job portal here.

Visa

Visa is another payments company that has allowed the use of crypto on its payments network. 

The global payments tech firm granted the use of the cryptocurrency USD Coin (USDC) to settle transactions on its payment network, in yet another sign of growing acceptance of digital currencies by the mainstream community.

The company has launched the pilot programme with platform Crypto.com to use stablecoin USDC, which is pegged directly to the US dollar.

Image Credit: Visa

Visa is tapping on the ethereum blockchain for these transactions, stripping out the need to convert the digital coin into fiat when making purchases. It plans to offer the option to more partners soon.

With Singapore’s crypto-friendlier policies, it is not surprising that Visa is working on related tech developments here. The company said it is working on building its next generation payments platform and is ramping up hiring for software engineers in Singapore.

Check out its job portal here.

Binance

The world’s largest digital asset exchange by trading volume Binance has been in Singapore for quite a number of years.

The company has been actively recruiting and has grown to hit an annual revenue of almost US$1 billion, according to Glassdoor.

The crypto exchange launched its platform in Singapore two years ago. Then, CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao said that Singapore will grow into a major crypto market. He lauded the local government for its in-depth understanding of crypto and openness towards financial innovation.

Image Credit: Tech Crunch

Zhao even said that Singapore will be the country leading the next financial revolution. Zhao had emphasized that a progressive regulatory environment is often a more important factor in the decision-making process of the company when entering into a new market.

The company website states it has over 2000 employees in more than 20 locations. On its homepage, there are more than 50 Singapore job openings, ranging from business development to finance and operations.

Check out its job portal here.

Coinhako

Singapore’s crypto exchange Coinhako was established in 2014 to improve the access of digital currencies for mainstream consumers in Singapore and Asia.

It’s founded by Yusho Liu and Gerry Eng. According to Coinhako, the platform registers about 150,000 monthly visits. The exchange has over 300,000 registered users in Singapore.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post, Coinhako

Last month, it said it is mulling an initial public offering after its January to May trading volume rose 500 per cent higher than for the whole of last year.

Amid the surge of interest in cryptocurrencies, Coinhako had said that it is scaling up operations and improving its services to serve customers better.

Coinhako, which now has over 90 people across the region, said it plans to double its workforce within this year. The company’s office is at 165 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore. It is currently hiring engineers and operations managers.

Check out its job portal here.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


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Also Read: Grab-Singtel and Sea digital banks are hiring aggressively in S’pore, over 90 roles available

MAS to “follow up” with S’pore entity of crypto exchange Binance in wake of global crackdown

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s financial regulator and central bank, said it would follow up as required with the local unit of Binance Holdings. This comes after its parent company came under scrutiny from global authorities.

Bloomberg reported that MAS is expected to follow up with the company’s local subsidiary Binance Asia Services Pte Ltd.

Binance Asia Services has a grace period during which it can operate in Singapore while the MAS reviews its application for a licence to provide digital payment token services, said the regulator.

Under the Payment Services Act, entities which were carrying on regulated business before the commencement of the Act on 28 January 2020 are allowed to continue providing their services while their licence applications are being processed.

“We are aware of the actions taken by other regulatory authorities against Binance and will follow up as appropriate,” said the MAS in an interview with The Business Times.

The move comes after Binance was similar notice the day before warning Binance was not registered to do business within the country.

Binance Asia Services runs the Binance.sg platform, popular with Singaporeans trading in bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies.

According to The Business Times, a spokesman for Binance Asia Services, which is backed by Temasek unit Vertex Holdings, stressed that the company is a separate legal entity from the other Binance entities abroad. 


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Also Read: Why Bitcoin will never go back to US$10K prices despite China’s mining ban

Why Bitcoin will never go back to US$10K prices despite China’s mining ban

bitcoin china mining

Bitcoin is nearly half in value since reaching a record high of almost US$65,000 in April. 

The cryptocurrency is now hovering above US$35,000 after it slumped to the lowest in five months a few weeks ago. The pricing now has wiped out most of the gains made this year.

The main reason for this tumble is due to China’s crackdown on the crypto.

bitcoin mining operator china
Mining operators in China forced to shut and move operations abroad / Image Credit: CNBC

“The crackdown by authorities in China on the cryptocurrency industry has spooked the market, causing many traders to sell Bitcoin,” said Bobby Ong, co-founder of crypto tracker site CoinGecko.

Mining operators in China were forced to shut and move their mining operations abroad. With China being the biggest Bitcoin miner by hash rate — a measure of the speed of crypto mining hardware — this has caused Bitcoin to lose a large amount of hashing power too, making the mining process slower.

Bitcoin mining in China
Image Credit: Quartz

Even so, experts and industry observers said the current setback faced by Bitcoin was bound to happen and the mining clampdown in China will be good for the crypto community in the long term.

Bitcoin due for price correction, but not a crypto winter

The price correction was due, as the mining processes for the cryptocurrency have already been facing massive scrutiny by the public. Some companies like Tesla had even halted their involvement with the crypto to make a stand.

Tesla’s Elon Musk was concerned with the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel. Elon had said that Tesla will accept Bitcoin as a payment mode again when crypto miners use clean energy.

bitcoin
Tesla halted its involvement with Bitcoin, imploring for cleaner energy practices / Image Credit: Bloomberg

Jason Deane, an analyst at Quantum Economics said that while long-term Bitcoiners view this as an extremely positive move for the network as this could mean a cleaner energy future, short-term traders are spooked by the price uncertainty.

The experts predict that Bitcoin is heading for a period of overreaction that will correct itself in due course.

They stressed that it is unlikely Bitcoin will sink to the lows seen in its last bear market in 2018 where the crypto traded at US$3,000-levels.

The lowest Bitcoin could drop to would be at the US$15,000 to US$25,000 range, said Victor Zhang, CEO at Alphawallet.

That’s because there’s a lot more utility, adoption, and diversification in the industry now compared to three years ago.

bitcoin prices 2021
Bitcoin is heading for a period of overreaction that will correct itself in due course / Image Credit: Coindesk

Bitcoin’s current pricing of around US$30,000 is strong price support, said Bobby.

But Bitcoin prices have faced strong resistance to push above the US$40,000 mark, and for prices to push past that, there needs to be enough momentum and renewed interest, he noted.

“The buying power has noticeably weakened. If support at US$30,000 fails to hold, we may see BTC hitting the next support at US$25,000. There are also indicators to suggest that a price reversal is in order… Notably, the formation of the previous reversal over the past few days has failed.”

 bitcoin price
Industry observers say the lowest Bitcoin could drop to would be at the US$15,000 to US$25,000 range / Image Credit: Coindesk, Vulcan Post

Furucombo’s COO Blake Ho added: “It’s important to keep in mind that the crypto market is not rational, and is easily impacted by the emotions, the fear of missing out from a great opportunity, and the fear of being the last one to escape. So the short-term price volatility is usually quite significant.”

“To have a better sleep during the market movement, it’s important to diversify one’s portfolio…(like) allocating some funds to stablecoins for lending yields, or some in promising projects for long-term investment are examples to diversify a portfolio and reduce overall risk,” she suggests.

China’s mining crackdown good for crypto community

Digital currencies are underpinned by a vast network of computers around the world.

In the case of Bitcoin, these computers are racing to solve complex math puzzles in order to make transactions go through. This process also generates new Bitcoins, rewarding miners in the cryptocurrency if they’re successful.

According to reports, more than 90 per cent of China’s Bitcoin mining capacity is estimated to be closed. It is thought that between 65 per cent to 75 per cent of all global Bitcoin mining takes place in China.

In the last month or so, Bitcoin’s hashrate has gone down from a record 180.7 million terahashes per second in mid-May to around 116.2 million last week, according to Blockchain.com data.

bitcoin hashrate
Bitcoin’s hashrate has gone down from a record reading in mid-May / Image Credit: Blockchain.com

The experts said that the crackdown is actually a good development for the crypto industry.

“In the short term, there might be a sharp drop in mining power, but this will help make the Bitcoin network more resilient and decentralised. This will help mitigate one of the common criticisms of the past where a majority of Bitcoin hash rate was residing in China,” said Bobby.

Victor said that the setback will only help to improve the crypto industry and its fundamentals.

“China mining has negligible impact because very few countries ban mining. Also, they ban proof of work mining. Proof of stake mining can easily run on an embedded device and it is not power consuming…People should focus on improving the energy source instead of cutting off the usage.”

 bitcoin mining china
Image Credit: Forbes

The crypto experts add that, with more Bitcoin miners going offline due to China’s restrictions, other miners’ share of the network will increase, which might potentially make mining much more lucrative.

“While some countries are banning mining, others are ramping it up. Some states in the USA, such as Texas and Florida, are welcoming miners to migrate,” said Bobby.

Future of Bitcoin

As for the outlook for Bitcoin – which still holds the title of the world’s largest cryptocurrency by valuation – Bobby thinks that the Bitcoin market is expected to remain turbulent for now.

“Currently, there is a lack of a clear catalyst for the Bitcoin market… Bitcoin’s outlook will also largely depend on the macroeconomic environment, and statements from the Federal Reserve will play a large role in determining the next movement.”

bitcoin payment
Bitcoin’s near-term outlook to depend on US Fed and macroeconomic environment / Image Credit: The Article

However, he noted that this is not the first time that China has attempted to ban or restrict the growth of Bitcoin and such setbacks happen at least once every year so far.

And this new setback is bound to make Bitcoin come back stronger.

“It is impossible to ban Bitcoin completely. With every ban announcement, the network grows more resilient, and soon, it may be matured enough to resist being affected by this kind of news,” Bobby said.

Bitcoin also recently locked its first major upgrade in four years, promising additional functionality, privacy, and efficiency.

bitcoin payment
The cryptocurrency has grown more resilient and is set to bounce back stronger / Image Credit: Finance Magnates

Bobby said that it’s highly unlikely that another cryptocurrency will replace Bitcoin in the near future. “Bitcoin is still the global crypto reserve currency and is expected to remain so in the foreseeable future.”

Victor agreed, adding that Bitcoin is still the most well-adopted crypto, as seen by countries and companies already adopting it for daily use.


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Also Read: From gaming to ride-hailing: How these 5 S’porean companies use crypto in their industries

Razer is hiring for a role to explore investments in blockchain, crypto and DeFi in S’pore

Razer CEO

Gaming company Razer has put up job ads to hire a blockchain, crypto and decentralised finance (DeFi) lead in Singapore.

The associate director/director role in this space will help to craft and execute Razer’s strategy on using blockchain as a platform.

The individual will work closely with Razer’s business and product leaders to pursue global opportunities that include partnerships and investments in the world of blockchain, crypto, and DeFi technologies.

In addition, the new hire will also help the company — which has over 120 million users — explore crypto and DeFi as potential areas of expansion for Razer’s services business.

Screenshot from Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang’s LinkedIn

Razer requires the candidate to have qualities like a technical background, an understanding of the fintech and blockchain ecosystem, and at least five years of experience in finance, business development, and marketing roles in the crypto/blockchain industry.

Razer’s CEO Tan Min-Liang shared the job post on his LinkedIn, which gathered more than 85 likes. Some followers commented that it’s a “great opportunity”.

The job posting, which is still open, has received 365 views and 38 applications.

A search on Razer Group’s LinkedIn account also revealed another job posting for a global engineering head which indicated “knowledge of crypto/blockchain” as a desired skill.

Razer exploring crypto space

Earlier this month, Razer announced that it’s exploring a potential entry into the cryptocurrency space.

Tan had said in a presentation then that there is a nascent opportunity for Razer in the cryptocurrency space, given the wide reach of its Razer Fintech unit.

Razer CEO Twitter
Screenshot from Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang’s Twitter

However, he also raised concerns on the impact crypto has on the environment in a Twitter post.

Tan had said that it is “unlikely” that Razer will issue its own cryptocurrency, but he would not rule out the firm accepting one or more of the other currencies out there for its hardware and services.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


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Also Read: From gaming to ride-hailing: How these 5 S’porean companies use crypto in their industries

From gaming to ride-hailing: How these 5 S’porean companies use crypto in their industries

Crypto firms

2021 has seen a boom in crypto interest, with more wanting to get involved in this space.

But beyond the interest in making a quick buck, cryptocurrency has the potential to shake up some industries’ current processes.

That’s because of the underlying blockchain technology and the fact that it can be used to connect various functions into one — like payments, trading, storage, and application use.

We take a look at five local companies that are disrupting the ride-hailing, cybersecurity, and gaming industries with their tech.

Ride hailing: TADA

TADA is a flagship product of blockchain-based firm MVL. The TADA ride-hailing app runs on its platform, called the MVL chain.

MVL uses blockchain to connect passengers and drivers through smart contracts with payments potentially made using crypto or a digital token.

Tada ride hailing
Image Credit: Bitcoin Talk

TADA says the MVL chain has the potential to address issues like fake driver identities as the vehicle and driver data are recorded by the blockchain, making it hard to flout the law.

The MVL blockchain records the entire vehicle history such as maintenance, repairs, previous rides, and the rating of the drivers to improve services to customers.

In May, MVL said it will list its native coin on the Liquid crypto exchange with two trading pairs, MVL/USDC and MVL/BTC. 

The group which raised US$15 million in its Series B funding as of April 2021, claims to have one million Southeast Asian users in Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Ride hailing: Ryde

This carpooling app lets customers pay for rides with Bitcoin. Ryde says users can convert Bitcoin to RydeCoin with no transaction costs.

According to Ryde’s CEO Terence Zou, crypto is seen as a “natural step” as transaction volume has increased. Ryde says it’s the world’s first crypto wallet that allows users to pay for rides using bitcoin that has its own e-wallet.

Ryde app
Image Credit: Map Box

The firm worked on integrating crypto features to its app in 2019, and it said Covid-19 has made cashless transactions more desirable.

Accepting bitcoin is just one step in the tech firm’s long-term plans. It wants to turn its RydePay wallet into a decentralised ledger and open it to more cryptocurrencies.

Cybersecurity: Sentinel Protocol

sentinel protocol
Image Credit: Coin Bureau

Founded in 2018, Sentinel Protocol provides cybersecurity services. It is a crowdsourced decentralised threat intelligence platform.

The Sentinel ecosystem aims to empower universal access to the internet in a trusted and provable manner.

It investigates cybersecurity incidents and collects and analyses real-time hacks and scams with the aim to improve crypto assets security.

sentinel protocol
Image Credit: Fintech News

Developers can use the Sentinel Protocol to build applications, using the Sentinel Network’s bandwidth marketplace for dVPN applications.

The digital token, Sentinel Protocol UPP is ERC20 compliant token on the Ethereum network and is used to pay for the security services on the platform.

Gaming: Enjin 

enjin
Image Credit: Enjin

Singapore-based Enjin’s is created as an ecosystem that offers a range of services to developers who want to use the platform to create their own products. It is mostly used to create games.

The network can be used for creation, distribution, storage, and trading of tokenised digital assets.

Enjin users can use the platform to create Enjin Coin-backed digital assets for example, as a digital currency for video games.

enjin
Image Credit: Enjin

The blockchain ecosystem lets them mint scarce items using Ethereum and backed by the Enjin coin. Users pay for games and non-fungible tokens and developers make games.

As the digital assets are on the blockchain, Enjin says the supply of items is provable and generates “real world value”.

Games on the platform include 9Lives Arena, Age of Rust, and Containment Corps. The firm recently raised US$18.9 million in a funding round led by Crypto.com, DFG Group, and Hashed.

Gaming: Digital Entertainment Asset

Last year, gaming specialist Digital Entertainment Asset (DEA) set up operations in Singapore to roll out regional online gaming running on its blockchain platform.

Users can earn crypto that can be converted to cash. The firm has games like JobTribes which is a card battle real player game that allows players to earn DEAPcoins.

DEAPcoins are tradable on crypto exchanges like OKEx, Bithumb Global, DigiFinex.

Digital Entertainment Asset
Image Credit: DEA

Users can also use the crypto to buy non-fungible tokens designed by its team of Japanese and international artists at its online marketplace. The assets serve as collectibles and can be used to advance in the games.

In April, DEA said its blockchain gaming platform “PlayMining” reached one million registered users.

Digital Entertainment Asset
Image Credit: DEA

The firm has been ramping up its presence in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, it formed an alliance with financial lending company JA Mitsui, to develop blockchain entertainment content and expand its operations in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

DEA’s vision is to become the leading next generation “finter-tech” company, combining entertainment and fintech through blockchain.

Crypto interest continues to rise

The craze in non fungible tokens, or NFTs has led to a burst of activity on the Ethereum blockchain this year. That’s as more people adopt the tech for various use.

Bitcoin and Ethereum
Image Credit: ETF Trends

The average number of daily users in Singapore visiting crypto storage platforms like Coinbase, has increased more than 110 per cent on a month-on-month basis for December last year till February this year, data from analytics firm Statista showed.

The value of the total cryptocurrency market is now at more than US$1.3 trillion, a leap compared to US$260 billion last year.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


Featured Image Credit: Enjin, Ryde, Sentinel Protocol, TADA, DEA

Also Read: A map of the crypto landscape in S’pore: who are the key players cashing in on the boom?

A map of the crypto landscape in S’pore: who are the key players cashing in on the boom?

Crypto Map SG

Within the past year, cryptocurrencies have gone from being an obscure part of the financial world to taking centre stage. The Wall Street Journal reported that as of May 2021, the total value of all cryptocurrencies was worth around US$2.2 trillion, up from $260 billion a year ago.

Cryptocurrency value
Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can be used to buy goods and services. However, it differs from fiat currency as it uses a decentralised, or peer-to-peer online ledger — a blockchain — to secure transactions.

The blockchain cannot be altered, which means that funds and goods can be transferred trustfully. This increases transparency and reduces the possibility of fraud.

In the span of 12 months, bitcoin —  the world’s most popular cryptocurrency — exploded from trading at US$8,166 on 8 March 2020 to hitting record highs of over US$61,000 in March 2021.

bitcoin price 2021
A chart of Bitcoin prices from 23 June 2020 to 23 June 2021 / Image Credit: Coindesk

Other cryptocurrencies such as ether and dogecoin have also surged to heights that few would have predicted a year ago.

This is fuelled by individual investors’ use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit to send asset prices soaring. Tesla founder Elon Musk’s embrace of cryptocurrencies and the U.S. listing of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. only raised interests further.

Crypto tweets
Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

The rise in cryptocurrency acceptance from the public has been accompanied by increased institutional interest, including big names like HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan.

Earlier this year, a Singapore investor made waves in the art world when he spent a record-breaking US$69 million (S$93 million) worth of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on a digital art piece.

NFTs operate as a new type of digital asset, and have rapidly gained popularity in recent years. They are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on the Ethereum blockchain and cannot be replicated.

Singapore artists and fashion players are also tapping on this NFT trend. Digital clothing has also been making waves in the NFT space, which consumers can purchase as well.

Singapore’s growing crypto scene

Bitcoin atm
A Bitcoin dispensing machine / Image Credit: AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman

Like the rest of the world, interest in cryptocurrencies in Singapore has also been growing.

PwC Singapore’s survey for the Singapore Blockchain Ecosystem Report 2020 assessed the developments of blockchain-related activities in Singapore, with blockchain emerging as one of the top three technology trends in Singapore for 2021.

Singapore has long been a financial hub and economic powerhouse, and with Asia’s two largest countries — India and China — banning or restricting access to crypto, Singapore has emerged as a haven for blockchain and crypto companies in the region. 

Government initiatives and institutional support from banks like DBS has heightened cryptocurrency’s visibility, legitimacy and acceptance amongst Singaporean audiences as a valued asset class. 

According to Global Macro Investor Raoul Pal, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings has been purchasing Bitcoin from miners. 

This information was revealed by Raoul during a recent podcast appearance. He also repeated the same claim on Twitter. The information was not confirmed by Temasek Holdings.

However, it is still evident that large institutions in Singapore are supportive of the cryptocurrency boom.

Institutional support for cryptocurrency developments

dbs piyush gupta cryptocurrency
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

DBS has set up a digital exchange which enables investors to tap into a fully integrated tokenisation, trading and custody ecosystem for digital assets.

The bank will leverage blockchain technology to provide an ecosystem for fund raising through asset tokenisation and secondary trading of digital assets including cryptocurrencies.

In May, DBS Private Bank announced that it launched a trust solution for cryptocurrencies via the bank’s wholly-owned trust company, DBS Trustee. This will allow its private banking clients to invest, custodise and manage digital assets. Previously, this was only accessible only to institutional and accredited investors.

The trust offering applies only to Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and XRP, which are the four cryptocurrencies hosted on the DBS Digital Exchange.

According to DBS, the digital exchange, has a daily trading volume between S$30 to S$40 million, and currently has 120 investors onboard.

When asked about the potential growth of the digital exchange, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta shared an optimistic view of the future of cryptocurrency.

I do think given the amount of interest in all the four cryptos that we trade now, that interest is quite high. Therefore, I do think it will pick up. But whether it picks up to tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of income over the next few years, it’s hard to say.

So my thinking is, we should get in there, figure it out and grow and then we’ll get a better sense for how big this could be in time.

– Piyush Gupta, DBS CEO

Other than the digital exchange which it launched last December, DBS also announced a partnership with Temasek and J.P Morgan this April to set up a new blockchain-based global payment platform.

Called Partior, it aims to disrupt the traditional cross-border payments ‘hub and spoke’ model, resulting in a more efficient clearing and settlement for payments.

These efforts by DBS, J.P. Morgan and Temasek build on their past work as part of Project Ubin, an industry initiative by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to explore the application of blockchain technology involving multi-currency payments and settlements.

Regulating the fintech landscape

moentary authority of singapore
Image Credit: Euromoney

To keep pace with the ever-changing fintech landscape, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) enacted the Payment Service Act. The act has been crucial in promoting fintech growth through clear regulatory frameworks while safeguarding consumers. 

In January 2020, the MAS devised a new version of the Payment Services Act (PS Act) to help consumers gain confidence in ePayments and offer more protection against issues that could arise within the digital money space. 

It is a comprehensive regulatory framework for companies handling activities relating to digital assets, including payments and trading.

Under the Act, a person must not carry on a business of providing any type of payment service in Singapore, unless the person:

  • has in force a licence that entitles the person to carry on a business of providing that type of payment service; or
  • is an exempt payment service provider in respect of that type of payment service.

According to MAS, over 300 firms in the nation have requested for licenses to operate services in payments and crypto exchanges in the city.

These services include providing account issuance services, domestic money transfer service, digital payment (cryptocurrency) token services, and more. 

Among the applicants are prominent tech companies like Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Ant Group, Binance Holdings Ltd., as well as Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

The authority’s chief financial technology officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, said in an interview with Bloomberg that the MAS is still processing the applications of the Payment Services Act.

These companies have been operating under a grace period since the regulator made the new Payment Services Act effective in January 2020. 

A look at Singapore’s crypto map

Singapore’s blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem has seen substantial growth. This includes homegrown and international companies that are in the digital asset and tokenisation space, staking and lending, exchanges and trading, as well as advisory and consulting.

Crypto map singapore
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The world is full of untapped assets — from private equity to real estate. Investors have traditionally traded these assets on paper, which is a time consuming and complicated process. Asset tokenisation is the process of converting ownership rights in a particular real-world asset into a digital token on a blockchain. 

Many assets can tokenised and moved to the blockchain, from financial instruments like stocks and bonds, to gold, and even art. This helps to decrease the barriers to entry and frictions to information exchange and trade.

On the other hand, staking and lending allows cryptocurrency investors to earn tokens. Staking is where users agree to pledge money to a network in order to help it validate transactions, while lending refers to loaning cryptocurrencies in return for interest payments.

cryptocurrency exchange, or a digital currency exchange is a business that allows customers to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for other assets. This includes conventional fiat money or other digital currencies.

Hardware and payment gateways provide payment systems that allow merchants to accept cryptocurrencies. Finally, advisory and consulting companies are firms that help startups and enterprises innovate in the blockchain industry.

This is just the beginning

For the cryptocurrency industry to evolve and fulfil its potential, we have to look at it as more than an investable asset, and consider its real-life use cases and value that the technology can provide.

Many entrants into the cryptocurrency industry are also developing features to increase the real world spending applications of digital currencies. 

In this “utility phase”, crypto becomes more than just a store of value, powering a range of financial services. For example, Singapore ride-hailing startup Ryde launched a cryptocurrency payment feature that allows you to top up your RydePAY wallet using Bitcoin.

Gorilla Mobile, a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which just launched in Singapore, makes use of the blockchain to power its SwitchBack feature. This feature lets users convert their unused mobile data into digital tokens, known as GorillaGo tokens, which are powered by Ethereum.

The proliferation of cryptocurrency into our everyday lives coupled with the strong institutional and governmental support makes it very likely that crypto is here to stay.

The growing amount of use cases available also points to its large growth potential, signalling that the crypto map of Singapore is only going to grow in the coming years.


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Also Read: Tokocrypto CEO on how he built Indonesia’s leading crypto exchange despite being a S’porean

Tokocrypto CEO on how he built Indonesia’s leading crypto exchange despite being a S’porean

tokocrypto pang xue kai

One of the biggest theme of 2021 is definitely cryptocurrency.

With news of bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation hitting a high of US$65,000 per bitcoin back in April, along with new developments with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralised finance (DeFi), more people are getting acquainted with cryptocurrency.

To purchase cryptocurrency, one usually has to do so via an cryptocurrency exchange. Starting one is not easy, however.

On top of needing the liquidity, which refers to the ability to allow users to instantly buy and sell their cryptocurrency, you would also need to ensure that you fulfil the regulatory requirements of the country you operate in, especially in a country like Indonesia.

This is what makes the story of Tokocrypto such an interesting story to share. It is the first cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia and is co-founded by 30-year-old Pang Xue Kai, who is a Singaporean.

How Tokocrypto came about

tokocrypto pang xue kai
Pang Xue Kai, co-founder of Tokocrypto / Image Credit: Tirto.id

Starting Tokocrypto was by chance for Kai.

Back in 2017, there was a phenomenon in the cryptocurrency prices called Kimchi Premium, where the price of cryptocurrency is sold higher at the Korean exchanges as compared to exchanges around the world.

A graduate of the National University of Singapore, Kai recognises that there is an opportunity to leverage on this arbitrage opportunity. He then started Tokocrypto in Indonesia so that investors can have access to better rates on its exchange.

We started off as a broker-style exchange, similar to Coinbase. We didn’t have an order book because we wanted to go to market fast, but were able to offer prices that are cheaper than what other exchanges were able to offer.

To do that, we plugged into the global exchanges and are able to find cryptocurrencies trading at a cheaper rate.

– Pang Xue Kai, co-founder of Tokocrypto

tokocrypto
Screenshot of Tokocrypto website

It was also possible to start an exchange in Indonesia as Kai had a “close working relationship” with regulators in Indonesia, paving the way for the successful rollout of Tokocrypto in Indonesia.

“While we are not the first cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia, we are the first exchange to be regulated. We work very closely with the regulatory body — the Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency — to set up the regulatory framework with regards to cryptocurrency exchange services,” Kai shared with Vulcan Post.

Securing a partnership with Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange

What started off as a cryptocurrency exchange providing futures trading and cryptocurrency custody services soon gained popularity as more Indonesians discover about their services.

Another achievement of the company is that the team managed to secure the backing of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

Tokocrypto’s journey with Binance started back in November 2019, when they registered as the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia. After receiving the “green light” to operate, the team was looking around to raise funds to grow its user base.

Tokocrypto then got in touch with various venture capitalists and cryptocurrency exchanges around the world to see who would be the partner that could push Tokocrypto to the next level.

tokocrypto
Image Credit: Balinetizen

Binance stood out among all the parties we reached out to because back then they were already the largest global exchange in the world, and it would be such a strategic partnership for us.

For Binance, we were a fit for them because we are regulated and they are looking for a regulated local partner in Indonesia.

– Pang Xue Kai, co-founder of Tokocrypto

Partnering with Binance meant that Tokocrypto is able to expand their product offerings to include the cryptocurrencies provided by Binance.

Beyond just that, Tokocrypto now also shares the same order book as Binance with a much higher liquidity, thus ensuring that its exchange is able to keep up with the high volume during volatile market movements.

An outcome of the backing of Binance is also the token offering of Tokocrypto’s native token TKO on the Binance platform. In May 2021, Tokocrypto became the first Southeast Asia company to launch its token offering on Binance, putting itself in front of millions of global investors around the world.

According to Tokocrypto, around 200,000 investors had participated in the Tokocrypto token offering.

The TKO token holders are able to use these tokens to have lower trading fees on Tokocrypto, and can be used on various Tokocrypto products in the works such as TKO Deposit, TKO Savings, TKO Cashback as well as the upcoming TKONFT Arcade, Tokocrypto’s NFT marketplace.

Shaping Tokocrypto to be Indonesia’s leading cryptocurrency exchange

tokocrypto management
Tokocrypto’s management team / Image Credit: Tokocrypto

Naturally one question that came to mind was, how did Tokocrypto amass its success despite not being the first exchange in Indonesia? Moreover, it needed to compete with a dozen other cryptocurrency exchanges in Indonesia.

There are a few things that we really emphasised when we built Tokocrypto since day one.

The first thing is regulatory compliance. We have a very strict compliance manual to ensure that we meet all regulatory requirements and this is something that the other exchanges have not actively complied to. This is also why we have a very close working relationship with the regulators.

Secondly, in terms of information security, we have two ISO certification to ensure that its infrastructure has a strong foundation. I believe that there are only five companies in Indonesia that has ISO 27017 certification (information security in cloud computing) and we are one of them.

– Pang Xue Kai, co-founder of Tokocrypto

“Aside from that, our partnership with Binance also makes us stand out in terms of liquidity and product offering. This is especially important because during large volume period, a lot of exchanges will go into maintenance mode, and this causes stress to users. For us, we are able to manage these large volumes because of our partnership with Binance,” Kai shared with Vulcan Post.

He also stressed that the banking channel is also a very important aspect when it comes to the success of an exchange.

When Tokocrypto first started, they made sure that they had reliable and commonly used fiat-onramp bank channels, so that their users can easily deposit their money via their bank account to their Tokocrypto virtual account instantly.

“The ability for users to instantly see their deposited fiat into their Tokocrypto virtual account was a big draw for users to use our service. This is something that other exchanges do not have yet as their users usually will only be able to check the status of their deposit a few days later,” he added.

The regulatory difference between Singapore and Indonesia

tokocrypto
Pang Xue Kai, Tokocrypto CEO and Teguh Kurniawan Harmanda, Tokocrypto COO / Image Credit: Tokocrypto

Another topic which we spoke about was the difference in terms of Singapore’s cryptocurrency industry regulation versus Indonesia’s regulatory system.

According to Kai, the key difference between Singapore and Indonesia is that in Singapore, the cryptocurrency industry is loosely regulated via an exempt framework.

What it means is that Singapore companies looking to be involved in cryptocurrency will need to apply to be exempted from holding a licence under the Payment Services Act (“PS Act”) for the specific payment services for a specified period.

In Indonesia, Tokocrypto is actually registered under the local regulatory agency and is recognised by the government along with the financial system including the banks.

Because of these compliant measures, Tokocrypto is able to work with banks and payment gateways to provide a far smoother on-ramp (converting cash to digital currency) service as compared to the exchanges in Singapore.

Another key difference between Singapore and Indonesia is that Singapore is still very much a regulator-led push when it comes to moving the cryptocurrency industry, while Indonesia is very much business-led push. Due to this nature, Tokocrypto is able to move fast.

Indonesia is definitely emerging as a hotspot for crypto-centric businesses. The value of crypto asset trading in the country amounted to 64 trillion rupiah (US$4.44 billion) last year, and is growing steadily this year.

For Tokocrypto, they have more than one million registered users trading on their platform with an average daily volume of US$80 million to US$120 million. With over 100 employees, the company is already profitable and is considering listing its company on the public exchange.

In the interview, Kai also shared that they are looking at a public listing over the next two to three years. For now, the team is focusing on growing the business further, expanding our operations to more parts of Indonesia and and ensuring more mainstream cryptocurrency adoption in the country.

While Singapore is still home for Kai, it seems like he will be spending most of his time in Indonesia to build up Tokocrypto over the next few years.

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Also Read: Coinhako CEO on why he bet big on bitcoins when cryptocurrency was unfamiliar in S’pore

New S’pore MVNO Gorilla Mobile lets you turn unused mobile data into digital crypto tokens

gorilla mobile

A new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) has just launched in Singapore. Called Gorilla Mobile, it targets PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians), as well as local and global businesses.

As a virtual telco, it operates on the M1 network for network coverage, and MyRepublic for Operating Support System and Business Support System enterprise telco managed services.

In a media briefing earlier today, Gorilla Mobile’s founder and CEO Xanne Leo, said that it is hoping to revolutionise the telco industry with Singapore’s first service-on-demand model and unique SwitchBack feature.

“All telcos simply assume that everybody want and need more data. However, we found out that this is not true,” said Xanne.

With Gorilla Mobile, users pay only for what they use to ensure a fair and modular way of using and paying for mobile services.

Explaining further about the service-on-demand model, she likened it to Netflix where a user pays a fixed monthly subscription fee to gain access to all sorts of TV shows and movies in different genres and languages.

(Think of it as) Netflix is going to introduce a flexible, customisable package so that you can have a more personalised experience. All you need to do is tell me, at the beginning of every month, how many comedy movies you are going to watch and how many hours of horror movies you think you are going to consume that month.

If you didn’t select documentaries, it will not show on your profile at all. All this is really easy and flexible because you can change the entire combo for the next month at the click of a button. (For) most of us, this is probably not going to translate into a very good user experience, but that is exactly what’s happening in the telco space right now.

– Xanne Leo, founder and CEO of Gorilla Mobile

She sees this as a “very demanding model”, in which it demands that users have expert knowledge on the features and benefits so that they can make an informed decision. It also assumes that all users can accurately predict their usage and consumption.

This is why Gorilla Mobile chooses to take on a different approach and build its services and delivery in a digital manner.

“(Our services) are all accessible and readily available on the mobile app for our users 24/7, and you only pay for what you use,” said Xanne.

Image Credit: Gorilla Mobile

She added that their signature is its blockchain-powered SwitchBack feature. It is basically an auto switchback function that lets users convert their unused mobile data into digital tokens, known as GorillaGo tokens, which are powered by Ethereum.

GorillaGo is a digital asset which you can have full ownership and the power to mint it via their Smart Contract from anywhere in the world.

These tokens — which has no expiry date — can then be used to offset future bills, redeem other mobile services, or be shared with others such as colleagues, including those who are overseas.

By tokenising mobile data into a digital currency, users can easily share, transfer, trade your mobile data with their family and friends who are using different telcos in different countries.

Our SwitchBack feature can be compared to the Singapore Parking app. Users pay only for their parking duration and get refunded for their unused time. Through SwitchBack, unused data never goes to waste. Its value gets reallocated to offset, purchase or exchange for other Gorilla services.

– Xanne Leo, founder and CEO of Gorilla Mobile

Exclusive features that are unique to SMEs

“(Our) formula is focused on the PMETs and SMEs market,” stressed Xanne.

Pre-pandemic, she noted that many business executives in this market tend to travel frequently for work. With the Covid-19 lockdown however, business travels have been put on hold and many have shifted to working from home — this also means that they are connected to WiFi most of the time.

Therefore, Gorilla Mobile wants to make full use of this untapped mobile data and convert it into something that can be of value to users.

She also observed that the post-pandemic situation also demands some of our workforce to make international calls on their mobile at home, or are required to receive overseas calls on their mobile at home because they have no access to the office lines, which are equipped and bundled with IDD calls capability.

“Gorilla Mobile’s full suite of mobile solution is digitalised so you can access that on the mobile app easily. We built it for the work from home, work from office, or work from anywhere (type of) situation. … I think our solutions also need to be different to cater (to changing needs).”

Image Credit: Gorilla Mobile

Its Switch25 mobile plan starts at S$25 a month for 20GB of mobile data, 100 minutes of talk time and 100 SMS (short message service) messages.

Comparing its plan to other corporate telco plans, Xanne acknowledged that they “are not the most high-end, but also not the most basic plan available in the market.”

She also expounded on the fact that Gorilla Mobile offers exclusive features that are unique to SMEs, like its auto bill offset feature and team-sharing functions.

“(Take) for example a company that has got 50 or 100 mobile lines. All the 100 lines with unused mobile data every month, it will automatically be switched back to one company account. This will make accounting and finance work a lot easier for these companies.”

Additionally, it offers data sharing with anyone, regardless if they are on different telcos.

“Data sharing is (typically) only applicable for a specific data-sharing plan, and this has to be only shared with supplementary lines or fixed supplementary lines under the subscribers. Our unlimited share function allows you share any amount with anyone at any time — it does not need to be the same subscriber or has a fixed limit to it.”

Is there space for a new telco player in S’pore?

The telco market in Singapore is quite saturated already as Gorilla Mobile takes up its position as the 13th player here.

With such stiff competition, how exactly is Gorilla Mobile gearing up to capture market share in Singapore?

When you have a commoditised, homogeneous product, the fastest and quickest way to compete is (to) actually slash prices. This usually happens when there is a lack of innovation or innovation has ceased to exist, and it typically also signifies the tail-end of a technological age.

– Xanne Leo, founder and CEO of Gorilla Mobile

Now that we are moving towards a 5G era, Xanne strongly believes that there will be more exciting developments in the telco space.

According to their findings, when significant levels of innovation and technological advancements happen, consumers will move away from price and start focusing on service differentiation.

“I believe that Gorilla Mobile has unparalleled innovative service for the PMETs and SMEs of today, we have a better model, we have better service and we provide a better experience.”

Gorilla Mobile first started out as a travel SIM card company back in 2019. Their plans to launch travel roaming data cards in May 2020 was dampened due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so they were forced to switch up their business plans and pivot.

Xanne is aware that Singapore is a saturated market and to her, the “gold strategy” is to come up with a niche product or service, or target specific segments of the market. Innovation is also key.

“In Singapore, we are looking at 2.5 million of PMETs and approximately 200,000 SMEs — this is really where we would like to take a slice of the pie,” she said.

She added that Gorilla Mobile has secured collaborations and tied up with many business associations like Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Business Federation, so she hopes that this will help give them the network and market entry point.

Gorilla Mobile has been established with US$3 million of seed capital, and it is set to raise another US$5 million in Series A funding. The funds will be used to develop its product roadmap and for market expansion across Southeast Asia.

They are eyeing to launch in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam next, before exploring expansion to Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the longer term.

In the coming months, the company will also unveil new services including a global roaming travel data SIM card, digital International Direct Dialing (IDD), and Global Office Telephony solutions.

Keen customers can sign up for Gorilla Mobile’s Switch25 Mobile plan on its website. The plan is available to all Singapore registered companies, Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, EPass, EntrePass and SPass holders aged 21 and above.

From 18 June to 18 August, new customers, both individuals and businesses, are also entitled to a Bill Difference Reward of up to S$50 per mobile number, credited directly to their PayNow account upon successful port-in.

“As we are still in our pre-launch phase, gradually bringing our full services to the market, we welcome users to try our service and share their valuable feedback with us as we strengthen our offerings and roll out more services to better cater to their needs,” summed up Xanne.

Featured Image Credit: Gorilla Mobile / Geek Culture

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Also Read: This S’pore startup wants supermarkets to sell their lab-grown meat in the next five years

Forget Elon Musk: China and the US have just killed cryptocurrency decentralisation

china us bitcoin

I get the impression that in the frenzy that saw Bitcoin shed nearly half of its value and the entire market lost $1 trillion in market capitalisation, most people have missed the importance of the shifts caused by China and the United States (US) that crack the very foundations of crypto.

bitcoin market capitalisation
Image Credit: Coinmarketcap.com

Of course, everybody acknowledged the impact China’s decision to restrict financial institutions from dealing with digital currencies (and announcement of a crackdown on mining) had, as it was one of the major drivers of the price drop.

However, less attention has been given to what it means for the future of digital currencies, and it’s not bright.

I.e. the key promise of decentralisation — that cryptocurrencies would offer an alternative to state-issued fiat currencies controlled by central banks — is, effectively, dead.

Any country in the world can introduce legislation barring the use of cryptocurrencies as legal tender.

It doesn’t matter that you can still hold it in your private, non-custodial wallet in secret. Your currency may remain “decentralised” — you just can’t do much with it because the government won’t let you.

What happens when cryptocurrency is outlawed?

No legally operating business is going to accept your BTC or ETH if their use is penalised by law. It doesn’t matter how good the technology is, how safe, secure and stable. If it’s outlawed, it’s gone.

And it’s not an issue specific just to autocratic China, and its Communist Party which has long shown its suspicion of crypto.

irs cryptocurrency
Image Credit: Fortune

The US has fired its own salvos too, with the Treasury introducing a proposal to make it mandatory for all crypto transactions exceeding $10,000 in value, to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What is your encryption and secrecy worth now, if the government can demand necessary information at will? 

When filing your taxes in America, you’re already asked whether you have participated in any virtual transactions and are now required to report capital gains accumulated from crypto trading. Yes, holding your prized digital assets comes with a tax bill in the fiat currency you loathe so much.

To make matters worse, it’s your responsibility to track the real market value of every transaction you made and calculate your tax liability, or face legal consequences. 

It’s only a matter of time when the rest of the world follows suit (EU is working on its own regulatory framework too).

It turns out then, that for all the promises of independence from the national authorities, cryptocurrencies can’t really escape them. Even worse, they can burden you with bureaucracy you didn’t even know existed.

Of course, “technically” you can keep your Bitcoin in an encrypted, private wallet and not disclose it to anyone, trying to show politicians and tax collectors the middle finger.

But if you do (most won’t, let’s be honest), you’re risking running afoul of the law. If you ever want to exchange the holdings for fiat, the information is going to bubble up somewhere, leaving you not only with a tax bill, but a painful penalty too.

Direct transactions won’t keep you safe either, particularly if other countries follow China’s example and restrict the use of non-public digital currencies — possibly rendering the contents of your wallet quite worthless in the process.

This brings us to another threat – the uncertainty about the future legal status of any cryptocurrency in any country in the world. 

It’s going to impact the value of your digital currencies

Every piece of legislation directly impacts the current and anticipated future demand.

Given the lack of obvious technical advantages (cryptocurrencies are currently both more expensive and slower to conduct transactions in, particularly for BTC) and incentive for use in illicit activities and tax evasion, most governments are likely to introduce additional regulation, which is going to impact the value of your crypto holdings. 

elon musk bitcoin
Image Credit: Fox Business

If you thought Elon Musk was bad — when all he had to do to shake the entire market is post a few tweets — think of the consequences of actual laws directly restricting the use of digital currencies. 

Parliaments are still unsure how to react to this novel technology and unlike in China, where the party sees it as a possible challenge to its grip on power, they are going to proceed cautiously.

Ultimately, they’re bound to set stricter rules on the use of decentralised crypto, whether you like it or not, because no challenge to governmental control will be allowed to stand. And the world’s leading superpowers are clearly keen on showing who’s really in charge.

Featured Image Credit: Blocktempo

Also Read: Forget Bitcoin – Digital currencies can only work with government backing

Alibaba, Binance among 300 firms applying for licenses under Payment Services Act in S’pore

Cryptocurrency License FI

[Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that over 300 firms applied for cryptocurrency licenses. The article has been updated accordingly to better reflect the respective applications]

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), over 300 firms in the nation have requested for licenses to operate services in payments and crypto exchanges in the city.

These services include providing account issuance services, domestic money transfer service, digital payment (cryptocurrency) token services, and more.

Among the applicants are prominent tech companies like Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Ant Group, Binance Holdings Ltd., as well as Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

Currently, these entities have been granted an exemption from holding a licence under the Payment Services Act for the specific payment services for a specified period.

These companies applied under the Payment Services Act, a comprehensive regulatory framework for companies handling activities relating to digital assets, including payments and trading.

MAS currently regulates service providers which deal with the exchange of cryptocurrencies when they possess the money or cryptocurrency. Under the act, the authority’s powers include regulatory measures on such providers even if they may not posses the money or cryptocurrency involved. 

The authority’s chief financial technology officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, said in an interview with Bloomberg that the MAS is still processing the applications of the Payment Services Act.

These companies have been operating under a grace period since the regulator made the new Payment Services Act effective in January 2020. 

“Giving licences to somebody is a premium, it is not something to be taken lightly. We are ensuring that whoever gets an MAS license will be credible,” Mohanty said.

A timeline for when the first license would be issued was not given, but firms may continue offering specific payment services while their applications are being processed.

Increased cryptocurrency demand in Singapore

Cryptocurrencies have been gaining popularity internationally since the introduction of the first one, Bitcoin, in 2009.

As demand for cryptocurrencies soar, the private sector here have taken steps to bolster its presence in cryptocurrencies.

DBS Bank for instance, has recently launched a trust solution for cryptocurrencies via the bank’s wholly-owned trust company, DBS Trustee. It is also Asia’s first bank-backed trust solution for crypto.

Most recently, it was reported that global lifestyle and gaming firm Razer is “carefully evaluating” a potential entry into the cryptocurrency space.


Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a key content pillar for Vulcan Post. You can find the rest of our cryptocurrency coverage here.


Featured Image Credit: Aspire App, WWD, Trending Topics

Also Read: Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan says firm is “exploring” a potential entry into cryptocurrency space