Zebpay Sets Up Operations Overseas After Suspending Exchange Activities In India

Zebpay Sets Up Operations Overseas After Suspending Exchange Activities in India

Zebpay is reportedly expanding its global presence after suspending cryptocurrency trading operations in India due to the banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank. According to information on its website, an entity has been set up to operate the Zebpay exchange in Malta to serve 20 countries.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Malta-registered Exchange Serving 20 Countries

Cryptocurrency service provider Zebpay has posted information on its website regarding its overseas operations but has yet to make any announcements about them.

Zebpay Sets Up Operations Overseas After Suspending Exchange Activities in IndiaIndiabits, a community of blockchain enthusiasts, tweeted on Friday about Zebpay’s two overseas entities: one in Singapore and one in Malta. “Zebpay is going global,” the group wrote, adding that “Zebpay will provide cryptocurrency exchange and OTC services to 20 countries in Europe.”

On its website, under Terms of Use, Zebpay described a Malta-registered entity called Awlencan Innovations Malta Ltd. This company was established on Sept. 17. Zebpay wrote:

Awlencan Innovations Malta Limited (C-88318), a Maltese registered company with office address situated at: 48, Triq Stella Maris, Sliema, SLM 1765, Malta, which owns and operates the ‘Zebpay’ VFA [virtual financial assets] exchange platform in Malta.

Zebpay Sets Up Operations Overseas After Suspending Exchange Activities in IndiaThe page also provides a list of 20 countries which Zebpay offers its services to. They are Malta, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden.

For know-your-customer (KYC) purposes, Zebpay explained that each client can only have one account. “Multiple accounts with same KYC documentation is not eligible for registration of additional accounts,” the firm added, noting:

Zebpay provides the platform to match the orders, and prices are therefore set by the market-forces of supply and demand.

Zebpay was one of India’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. However, its exchange activities in India were shut down at the end of September due to the cryptocurrency banking ban imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The ban went into effect in July and a number of petitions have been filed against it. The country’s supreme court has been trying to hear them but the case keeps being postponed.

Growing Global Presence

Zebpay Sets Up Operations Overseas After Suspending Exchange Activities in IndiaOn its Global Legal page, under Terms of Use, Zebpay wrote, “Zebpay shall mean and include … Awlencan Innovations Pte. Ltd. incorporated in Singapore.”

Awlencan Innovations Pte. Ltd. is a Singapore-based blockchain technology company established in May, soon after the RBI issued its circular in April which banned financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto businesses.

In addition, Awlencan Innovations India Ltd. was registered on Sept. 28, the day Zebpay suspended its exchange activities. According to reports, there are 3 directors listed for this company. One is Kailash Atmaram Singhal who is also listed as a director of Zeb It Service Ltd., which operated the Zebpay exchange in India.

What do you think of Zebpay setting up operations overseas after shutting down exchange activities in India? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Zebpay.


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South Korea’s Largest Crypto Exchange Sold to Singapore-Based Consortium

South Korea’s Largest Crypto Exchange Sold to Singapore-Based Consortium

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea by trading volume, Bithumb, has reportedly been sold to a Singapore-based consortium for approximately 400 billion won or $354 million. Bk Global Consortium, led by plastic surgeon Kim Byung-gun, will acquire the controlling stake and become the largest shareholder of Bithumb.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Bithumb Sold

A spokesman for Bithumb confirmed Friday that the exchange “was sold for about $354 million to a consortium led by a plastic surgeon,” Reuters reported and quoted him saying:

Bk Global Consortium, led by Kim Byung-gun, plastic surgeon and blockchain platform investor, signed a deal on Thursday to buy 50 percent plus one share in the exchange’s biggest stakeholder, BTC Holdings, for about 400 billion won ($354.09 million). The deal makes Bk Global Consortium the largest stakeholder of Bithumb.

South Korea’s Largest Crypto Exchange Sold to Singapore-Based ConsortiumThe deal will be finalized in February, Bloomberg further quoted the spokesman. Bithumb’s April audit report shows that BTC Holdings was the largest shareholder, with a 75.99 percent stake in the exchange. The second largest shareholder, Vidente Co. Ltd., held a 10.55 percent stake, followed by Omnitel at 8.44 percent, Chosun detailed.

Kim founded Bk Plastic Surgery 23 years ago and is the representative of the Bk Medical Group, which links China, Singapore and Korea, MTN detailed. He also established an ICO platform in Singapore last August.

About Bithumb

South Korea’s Largest Crypto Exchange Sold to Singapore-Based ConsortiumBithumb is currently South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. According to Vidente, the exchange posted 218.6 billion won of operating profit and 39.3 billion won of net income in the first half of the year, Bloomberg described. Semi-annual reports of BTC Holdings show that Bithumb’s sales reached 303 billion won in the first half of this year.

In addition, News Asia reported that the price which Bk Global paid for Bithumb is lower than the exchange’s $880 million valuation appraised in early February, adding that the consortium’s own valuation of the exchange is even higher, at more than two trillion won plus the management rights premium. The news outlet quoted a Bk Global Consortium official asserting:

We will also promote the introduction of a stable coin to stabilize the payment system. We will be in conjunction with the global exchange scheme to take advantage of the coin linked to the US dollar.

In June, Bithumb said it was hacked and 11 cryptocurrencies were stolen. The estimated damage was about 19 billion won. This week, the exchange launched two indices to track the cryptocurrency markets.

What do you think of Bk Global Consortium acquiring the controlling stake of Bithumb? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Bithumb.


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Singapore Hosts New Fiat-Crypto Exchange, Welcomes Crypto Bank Accounts

Singapore Cautiously Welcomes Crypto Bank Accounts, Fiat-Crypto Exchange

It has been a busy week for Singapore as it relates to cryptocurrency. The city-state is set open the first fiat-crypto exchange in Southeast Asia, while the financial regulator has vowed to help crypto companies set up local bank accounts, according to media reports. 

Also read: Salt to Offer Crypto-Backed Loans in 7 Global Markets, 15 More US States

Strong Response to
Eurekapro’s Beta Launch

More than 8,000 people signed up for the open public beta launch of Eurekapro’s new fiat-crypto exchange, Finews.asia has reported. “A Singapore-based exchange will allow for easy fiat-to-crypto trading and aims to make digital currency more easily accessible to businesses and consumers,” the news site said.

Singapore Cautiously Welcomes Crypto Bank Accounts, Fiat-Crypto Exchange

Eurekapro offers its own native token, EKT, and claims it provides the most extensive fiat-to-crypto support in Asia. With its new Singapore exchange, the company — which was previously known as Overswitch and based out of Sweden — will allow users to conduct transactions with a number of regional fiat currencies, including the Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah.

MAS Cautiously Embraces Crypto

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will start helping crypto firms to set up local bank accounts, Bloomberg has reported, citing MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon. Although Asia is home to a growing middle class that is keen to experiment with cryptocurrencies, Singapore is looking to contrast its embrace of crypto against that of other countries across the continent. For example, MAS does not plan to require licenses for crypto exchanges, as the Japanese authorities do.

Singapore Cautiously Welcomes Crypto Bank Accounts, Fiat-Crypto Exchange
MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon

Japan has emerged as the gold standard for crypto in Asia, and really around the world, as it has largely taken a live-and-let-live approach. But in Singapore, MAS plans to place different crypto businesses into categories. “Utility tokens,” the first of these categories, refers to the use of blockchain technology to facilitate payments for things such as computing services. Menon said that barely any regulation will be required for such activities.

The second distinction that MAS will draw for the crypto industry relates to digital tokens that resemble securities. Such cryptocurrencies will fall under the oversight of Singapore’s Securities and Futures Act. In reality, Menon acknowledged that there have not been many local initial coin offerings that could be classified under this category thus far. But those that do will be subject to the relevant legislation. MAS has even said that it will not consider many such examples to be viable business models. “Most of them are careful to steer clear of that line,” Menon said.

Lack of Regulatory Clarity

While the Singapore authorities have overtly tried to encourage the growth of financial technology businesses, crypto companies have found that a lack of regulatory clarity has thus far held back their expansion. Part of the problem is that crypto firms have struggled to get local bank accounts; in some cases, the banks have ended up closing accounts that such companies have managed to open.

Singapore Cautiously Welcomes Crypto Bank Accounts, Fiat-Crypto Exchange

Yet Menon acknowledged that the crypto business is different from the fintech space in many ways, noting that the reluctance of local banks to get involved is understandable, due to the arguably “opaque” practices of some crypto companies. He said that the regulator’s primary concern involves discouraging money laundering and protecting the interests of consumers. But he also noted that there are ultimately limits to the regulatory reach of the MAS.

Do you believe Singapore will eventually accommodate crypto businesses to the same degree as Japan? Let us know in the comments below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Eureakapro


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Singapore’s Biggest Shipper Partners IBM in Developing Blockchain for Crucial Trade Paperwork

Tech giant IBM is partnering with one of Singapore’s biggest shipper, Pacific International Lines (PIL), in digitalizing one of the most important documents in shipping – Bill of Lading. The two firms will collaborate in designing and creating an electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) which will exist on a blockchain. In international trade, the Bill

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Flippening? Singapore Hosted More ICOs than the US in August: Report

With the increased regulatory scrutiny on ICOs in the United States, there appears to be a move by projects towards more friendly environments. According to blockchain analytics firm Elementus, there was a decline in the number of ICOs hosted in the United States compared to Singapore in the month of August. In that month the … Continued

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Tech In Asia lays off staff after canceling planned ICO

Earlier this month, media startup Tech In Asia surprised its readers when it announced plans to implement an $18 per month paywall. More expensive than packages for the Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and The Information, the subscription went live this week. It’s designed to make the business self-sustaining after a tricky period of business in which the company contemplated an ICO and was forced to make cutbacks to its team.

The Singapore-based company — which operates a popular blog and events business in Southeast Asia — laid off as many as one-third of its staff after it went back on a plan to raise money from an ICO, according to documents reviewed by TechCrunch and multiple people familiar with the situation.

In July, as the company scrapped its ICO plans, Tech In Asia fired 18 of its 60 employees in Singapore; one-third of its smaller employee base in Indonesia and restructured other business units after scrapping the plan to develop its own cryptocurrency. Most of the layoffs were in non-editorial business lines — like the company’s jobs division, which works with companies to pitch the Tech In Asia website as a recruitment platform. That division laid off half of its team, according to a source, while a number of reporters elected to leave the company too, as E27 reported in August.

Tech In Asia founder and CEO Willis Wee did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

While the fundraising target for the ICO wasn’t disclosed, the plan was to bring in enough new investment to extend the company’s eroding runway.

The ICO was part of ‘Project Tribe,’ a strategy to develop a decentralized platform that would allow any organization to develop online communities using a blockchain-based framework built by Tech In Asia, according to documents viewed by TechCrunch.

“Our goal is to give Tech In Asia back into the hands of the community and harness community forces to bring us closer to our mission of building and serving Asia’s tech communities,” the company wrote in one section of the whitepaper, which was never released but had been widely-circulated beyond Tech In Asia staff.

The most successful ICOs have developed decentralized systems that are often initially beneficial to the company behind the token sale, but that can, in theory, be extended to cover other businesses.

Project Tribe used that angle. Bearing some basic similarities to the Civil journalism platform, the plan was initially to host Tech In Asia’s news and community website over the next three years, before opening up to third parties by 2021.

Company-wide Slack messages seen by TechCrunch show that it was discarded after the management team balked at the risk behind the move. They told staff their concern that token economics, pleasing retail investors and legal uncertainties would all distract from the core business. That reversal was taken despite “significant” investment resources and dozens of staff being allocated to develop the concept and whitepaper over a number of months.

From funding to cutbacks

It wasn’t so long ago that Tech In Asia was the toast of Asia’s media community.

The startup — which launched in 2010 — brought in $6.6 million in fresh funding last November in a round led by Korean investor Hanwha.

In the ensuing six months, after watching annual revenue drop thanks in part to a dramatic decline in its events business, the Tech In Asia leadership caught crypto fever and decided to venture into the new world of ICOs.

There were signs of trouble earlier in 2017 for the company. Tech in Asia laid off most of its India-based team in early 2017 and ended its events business in that country. Those decisions impacted its event business, which a source said saw total revenue drop by more than 50 percent.

A shift to community content, with fewer ‘original’ reporting and journalism pieces also cut into company performance. Internal data seen by TechCrunch shows that monthly active users on the site were down 31 percent year-on-year in Q2 2018 — reaching 1.84 million — while total pageviews slipped by one-third, too.

Tech In Asia’s management team told all staff in June that its runway, which was thought to be shored up by the November deal, had gone from a solid-looking 81 months to just 14 months. Management claimed that a change in financial calculations caused the difference and employees were reassured that their jobs were safe.

One month later, however, the company began shedding staff in an effort to cut costs, reversing a hiring spree it launched in January, according to sources.

Two sources told TechCrunch that morale of the remaining staff was crushed when members of the management ‘flaunted’ the fruits of their wealth on social media just days after firing large portions of the team. Some social media updates posted to the internet that upset departing staff members included a photo of Rolex, the view of a villa on a weekend trip to Bali, and an expensive sushi dinner bill. 

With the company facing a straitened financial situation, if Tech In Asia tries to raise money again it’ll have some explaining to do to potential investors.

The business grossed SG$3.37 million (US$2.47 million) for the first six months of the year. Annualized, that would represent a 15 percent drop on 2017’s revenue, and Tech In Asia is still losing money. It recorded a net loss of SG$1.43 million (US$1.05 million) for the first half of 2018, according to internal data. That’s an average monthly burn rate of SG$0.23 million, or US$0.17 million.

Nonetheless, Wee — the Tech In Asia CEO — is hopeful that the subscription model pivot can make Tech In Asia sustainable in the long run.

“As you probably know, our business model has been built around events and advertising. While these have kept our business going, we are still working towards becoming profitable. Why is achieving this important? Because the only way we can be better at serving Asia’s tech ecosystem is if we have more resources and a consistent income stream,” he wrote when announcing the subscription package.

Full disclosure: I bought an annual subscription to Tech In Asia at the early bird discount rate being offered right now. That doesn’t impact my coverage of this story — I support a number of media businesses via subscription packages.

Crypto giant Binance looks to the future with fiat trading and a decentralized exchange

Binance, the one-year-old startup that appeared from nowhere to become the world’s top crypto exchange, is making major moves as it enters the next phase of its business. That includes a plan to offer fiat-to-crypto trading in international markets and the release of a decentralized exchange to complement its current trading site.

The company routinely trades more than $1 billion in crypto volumes daily — even in this current bear market — but to date it has only allowed crypto-to-crypto trading. That’s primarily down to the need for regulation in order to offer fiat currency conversation, but that’s set to change.

Speaking at a Coindesk event in Singapore last week, CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao revealed plans to launch a slew of local exchanges offering fiat conversation in markets across the world and he provided further details in an interview with TechCrunch.

“Right now, we are centralized crypto-to-crypto,” Zhao told us. “We don’t offer fiat gateways and so we rely on others to do that. But through discussions with different regulators across the world, we now have those channels. We want to make it easier for fiat currency to get into the crypto world.”

There’s certainly a need for institutional money. Crypto prices are down as much as 55 percent on January’ highs, according to analysis from Bloomberg, so it figures that major players like Binance need the backing of big names and large amounts to reverse the trend. While many in the space say they are happy to see a low price since it drives out less sincere operators, dwindling interest in crypto isn’t ideal for those who get paid by facilitating trades.

Zhao said the plan is to open three fiat exchanges this year with a view to growing the number to 10 in 2019, with “ideally two per continent.” Part of the goal is to help larger, institutional investors bring money into the crypto ecosystem, a move that would help Binance and the rest of the industry, too.

“We want to” reach both retail and institutional investors he added. “Our target has always been more retail focused, but now institutions are coming into crypto and we are seeing that.”

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao speaks at TechCrunch’s blockchain event in Zug in July 2018 [Image: Daniel Vaiman/Explore To Create]

Already, Binance has opened a joint venture in Lichtenstein, it has announced plans to offer fiat in Malta, and it is working on a launch Singapore. Currently in a limited beta, Zhao said the Singapore-based exchange should go live within the next month after stress testing on areas like KYC, trading flow and scalability is done.

While he didn’t specifically call out other markets that Binance is looking at, he did rule out launching in China, Japan and the U.S, which are three major markets for crypto despite respective legal roadblocks. China banned ICOs and exchanges some time ago, the U.S. has begun cracking down on crypto and Japan has tight licensing around exchanges which, for one thing, imposes regulations on what tokens can be listed on exchanges.

“Japan is progressive on crypto but their exchange regulation is too strict,” Zhao said. “It makes it very hard for exchanges.”

Indeed, it stands to reason that Binance — which once had an office in Tokyo before deciding against operating a local entity — would need to modify its token selection in line with Japanese laws were it to gain a license to operate in Japan. Either way, Zhao doesn’t seem key to reevaluate the country just yet.

Elsewhere, Zhao said he “respects” China’s decision to ban ICOs and exchanges, while he is happy to let others do the heavy lifting in the U.S.

“We are interested in the U.S. but that’s not a top priority and we will probably let the other guys go in first,” he told TechCrunch.

That’s hardly surprising since Binance is one of three exchanges mentioned by in a report by New York attorney general Barbara Underwood who believes they may have violated state trading law. Zhao declined to comment.

Binance — which has flocked to crypto-friendly nations like Malta and Bermuda — said it would open an office in Singapore should the proposed exchange rollout go successfully.

Beyond fiat, the company is also getting closer to launching a decentralized exchange (dex) which would allow buyers and sellers to trade tokens directly without the exchange acting as an intermediatory.

High-profile figures have criticized central exchanges. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin went so far as to say that they should “burn in hell” for their position controlling asset selection, price and more. Binance seems to be making as much progress as anyone with its dex which, simply because of the company’s market position, could force others to follow suit.

The Binance dex would significantly alter the trading flow as it stands today, but Binance itself — which Zhao told Coindesk made a profit of $350 million over the past six months — would still draw revenue. That’s because the dex would operate on Binance’s own blockchain with the company operating a number of nodes itself. Zhao said that when its nodes are used in transactions, it would gain some of the network fee.

While, equally, the firm stands to profit from increased dex use because that could make Binance’s BNB token more valuable, Zhao argued.

The company recently released a very early demo of the dex — spoiler alert: it is underwhelming — but Zhao said a fully-working service should be available by the end of this year or early 2019 at the latest. The Binance CEO, who once build software for futures trading for Bloomberg, is leading the development of the project.

“Development is going well,” he added. “Our dex is very simple but it’s fast.”

Beyond its exchange business, Binance is also putting itself to work on growing the crypto industry. Earlier this year it announced an investment fund that it said is worth $1 billion and would invest directly into companies and new crypto investment funds, too. It also has aggressive plans to run early-stage accelerator programs across the world to help develop new businesses that support the crypto ecosystem.

Ellie Zhang, who runs the Binance Labs division that manages both projects, candidly told TechCrunch last month that real use cases for blockchain and crypto are crucial if Binance is to “thrive” as a business.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Singapore is the crypto sandbox that Asia needs

Singapore Blockchain Week happened this past week. While there have been a few announcements from companies, some of the most interesting updates have come from regulators, and specifically, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The financial regulator openly discussed its views on cryptocurrency and plans to develop blockchain technology locally.

For those who are unfamiliar, Singapore historically has been a financial hub in Southeast Asia, but now has also gradually become the crypto hub of Asia. Compared to the rest of Asia and the rest of the world, the regulators in Singapore are well-informed and more transparent about their views on blockchain and cryptocurrency. While regulatory uncertainties still loom over Korea and Japan, in Southeast Asia, the MAS has already released its opinion “A Guide to Digital Token Offering” that illustrates the application of securities laws to digital token offerings and issuances. Singaporean regulators have arguably been pioneering economic and regulatory standards in Asia since the early days of the country’s founding by Lee Kuan Yew in 1965.

Singapore is the first stop for foreign companies in crypto

In the past, I’ve said that Thailand is one of the most interesting countries in crypto in Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, for any Western or foreign company looking to establish a footing in Asia, or even for any local company in any Asian country looking to establish a presence outside of their own country, Singapore should be the first stop. It has become the go-to crypto sandbox of Asia.

There are a number of companies all over Asia, as well as in the West, that have already made moves into the country. And the types of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges that go to Singapore vary widely.

A few months ago, a Korean team called MVL introduced Tada, or the equivalent of “Uber” on the blockchain, in Singapore. Tada is an on-demand car sharing service that utilizes MVL’s technology. The Tada app is built on MVL’s blockchain ecosystem, which is specifically designed to serve the automotive industry, adjacent service industries, and their customers. In this case, MVL was looking to test out its blockchain projects in a progressive, friendly jurisdiction outside of Korea, but still close enough to its headquarters. Singapore fulfilled most of these requirements.

Relatedly, Didi, China’s ride-sharing company, has also looked to build out its own blockchain-based ride-sharing program, called VVgo. VVgo’s launch is pending, and its home is intended to be in Toronto, Singapore, Hong Kong or San Francisco. Given Singapore’s geographic proximity and the transparency of its regulators, it would likely be a good testing ground for Didi as well.

This week, exchanges such as Binance and Upbit from Korea have also announced their plans to enter the Singaporean market. A few days ago, Changpeng ZhaoCEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced the launch of a fiat currency exchange that will be based in Singapore. He also mentioned his company’s plan to launch five to ten fiat-to-crypto exchanges in the next year, with ideally two per continent. Dunamu, the parent company of South Korea’s largest crypto exchange Upbit, also just announced the launch of Upbit Singapore, which will be fully operational by October.

The team at Dunamu mentions how they are encouraged by MAS’s attitude towards cryptocurrency regulation and the vision of the country’s government to establish a strong crypto and blockchain sector. They also believe Singapore could be a bridge between Korea and the global cryptocurrency exchange market.

From a high level, the supply of crypto projects and trading volume in Singapore is certainly strong, and the demand also appears abundant. Following China’s ICO ban in late 2017, Singapore has become home to many financial institutions that can serve as potential investors for ICOs.

As recently featured on the China Money Network, Li Dongmei wrote that:

What is supporting such optimism is the quiet preparation of capital on a massive scale getting ready to act the “All In Crypto” mantra. “In recent months, there have been over a thousand foundations being established in Singapore by Chinese nationals,” said Chen Xianhui, an agent specialized in helping Chinese clients to register foundations in Singapore. Most of these newly established foundations are used setting up various token investments funds.

Singapore has become the first choice when crypto companies from both the West and the East are initially scoping out their market strategies in Asia, and companies want an overarching idea of what’s going on in the cryptocurrency world in the region.

In fact, it’s often the case that Southeast Asian crypto companies and leaders gather in Singapore before they go off and do crypto businesses in their own countries. It’s the place for one wants to tap all of the Asian crypto markets in one single physical location. The proof is in the data: in 2017, Singapore ascended to the number three market for ICO issuance based on the number of funds raised, trailing the United States and Switzerland.

Crypto is thriving due to regulator openness

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) takes a very practical approach to crypto. Currently, MAS divides digital tokens into utility tokens, payments tokens, and securities. In Asia, only Singapore and Thailand currently have such detailed classifications.

While speaking at Consensus Singapore this week, Damien Pang, Singapore’s Technology Infrastructure Office under the FinTech & Innovation Group (FTIG), said that “[MAS does] not regulate technology itself but purpose,” when in conversation discussing ICOs in Singapore. “The MAS takes a close look at the characteristics of the tokens, in the past, at the present, and in the future, instead of just the technology built on”.

Additionally, Pang mentioned that MAS does not intend to regulate utility tokens. Nevertheless, they are looking to regulate payment tokens that have a store of value and payment properties by passing a service bill by the end of the year. They are also paying attention to any utility or payment tokens with security features (i.e. a promise of future earnings, which will be regulated as such).

On the technology front, since 2017, Singapore authorities have been looking to use distributed ledger technology to boost the efficiency of settling cross-bank financial transactions. They believe that blockchain technology offers the potential to make trade finance safer and more efficient.

When compared to other Asia crypto hubs like Hong Kong, Seoul, or Shanghai, Singapore can expose one to the Southeast Asia market significantly more. I believe market activity will likely continue to thrive in the region as the country continues to act as the springboard for cryptocurrency companies and investors, and until countries like Korea and Japan establish a clear regulatory stance.

Major Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next Month

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next Month

Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit will reportedly begin operations in Singapore next month. The new exchange will offer Singapore dollar trading as well as crypto-to-crypto pairs in three markets offered by Bittrex, Upbit’s US-based partner.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Upbit Expands to Singapore

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthDunamu Inc., the operator of the Kakao-backed exchange Upbit, said on Wednesday that it is launching a cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore next month, Yonhap reported.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthUpbit is currently South Korea’s second largest crypto exchange. At the time of writing, its 24-hour trading volume is approximately $229 million, second only to Bithumb which has a 24-hour trading volume of $392 million. At present, Upbit has 271 cryptocurrencies listed.

Dunamu established a Singaporean branch office in February and has been preparing for an exchange launch ever since, the news outlet conveyed. Kim Kook-hyun, head of Upbit’s Singaporean branch, was quoted saying:

As Singapore has proactively supported blockchain technology, our advancement into the nation will help us secure many chances to lead a variety of relevant projects and to have global competitiveness.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthWithout revealing the exact launch date, the company confirmed that it will be in “early October.”

Singapore was picked as the firm’s first overseas expansion because of “the city-state’s strong support for blockchain and related technologies,” the Investor stated, adding that the firm plans to expand to more countries in the future.

At the Upbit Developer Conference held on Jeju Island, Dunamu CEO Lee Sir-goo confirmed that Upbit will not be issuing its own cryptocurrency. Referring to the exchange’s expansion to Singapore, he told reporters:

We don’t want to lose out on the opportunities now…If we wait until the Korean crypto exchange environment improves, we could lag behind our global competitors.

Plans for Upbit Singapore

The new exchange will be headed by Alex Kim who previously served as the head of Kakao Indonesia, the Investor described, elaborating:

The Upbit Singapore [exchange] will be serviced in English and offer Singapore dollar trading. It will also support crypto-to-crypto pairs, including Upbit’s US partner Bittrex’s bitcoin, ethereum and tether markets.

Major South Korean Crypto Exchange Upbit Opens in Singapore Next MonthLee detailed, “In the future we would like to add other fiat currencies and expand to other countries in Southeast Asia,” emphasizing that Upbit will continue to strengthen its partnership with Bittrex as it expands globally.

For the launch promotion, trading fees in the Singapore dollar market will be waived for one month for “users who complete their subscription and self-certification,” the publication noted.

Recently, several companies have expanded to Singapore. Line, the Japanese subsidiary of Korean internet giant Naver, has launched a crypto exchange called Bitbox in Singapore. In addition, Binance is beta testing a fiat exchange in the country, CEO Changpeng Zhao revealed last week.

What do you think of Upbit expanding to Singapore? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Upbit.


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Singapore’s Crypto Market Blooms as Korea’s Largest Exchange Moves In

Dunamu, the parent company of South Korea’s largest crypto exchange Upbit, has officially announced the launch of Upbit Singapore, which will be fully operational by October. Upbit Singapore CEO Alex Kim explained in an official statement that local users in Singapore will be able to trade all of the cryptocurrencies integrated by partner exchange Bittrex

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Singapore Central Bank Flags Website Promoting Bitcoin Scam

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, has issued a statement warning people about a website soliciting bitcoin investments that is using comments falsely attributed to Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the MAS chairman and Deputy Prime Minister. The statements attributed to Tharman on the website are misleading and false, MAS noted, except for his … Continued

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Binance to [Beta] Launch Singapore Fiat Crypto Exchange Tomorrow

Binance is set to unveil a fiat currency exchange that will be based in Singapore. This was revealed by CEO Changpeng Zhao over the weekend while speaking at the Cumberland Summit, a blockchain event in Singapore. Zhao further revealed that the new exchange is currently under an invitation-only beta testing phase. After making the announcement … Continued

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The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Crypto Platforms

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for Coin

Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, has announced it will start testing a fiat currency trading platform in Singapore and we’ve got the story in Sunday’s edition of The Daily. Also, two islands in Russia are competing to host the country’s first regulated exchange, and the ECB says Europe doesn’t need a central bank issued crypto. However, Ukraine’s national bank is advancing with its plans to issue a digital coin.

Also read: Bitfinex Building Decentralized Exchange, Bitpanda Adds Zcash

Binance to Test Fiat Exchange in Singapore

Binance, currently the largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume, will soon be testing a fiat currency exchange in Singapore. The news was spread on social media by Changpeng Zhao, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chinese-run trading platform. “I just slipped that we will begin #Binance Singapore fiat exchange live money closed beta testing on Sept 18, in 3 days. Invitation only first. Exciting!” CZ said in a tweet this Saturday referring to his announcement during a crypto event in the Asian country. The new exchange will initially open in beta with an undisclosed number of invited users trading in a closed testing environment. The launch is scheduled for September 18. No further details have been revealed yet.

Russians Eye Two Islands for Crypto Exchanges

While authorities in Moscow are still fine-tuning their revamped crypto legislation, to be presented for public discussions in October, participants in a forum in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok have been busy discussing regulatory matters related to cryptocurrency mining and the circulation of digital coins in the vast country. And while the leading cryptocurrency trading platform explores opportunities to trade fiat currencies, the need to legalize cryptocurrency trading was also among the main topics during this year’s edition of the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok.

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinSeveral Russian regions have been mentioned multiple times as possible crypto offshore zones and regulatory sandboxes. Two of them are Kaliningrad, the westernmost Russian oblast, and Vladivostok, administrative center of Primorsky Krai in the Far East. Both have two discrete territories, Oktyabrsky Island and Russky Island respectively, deemed ideal for such pilot projects. Officials and representatives of the local crypto community in Kaliningrad claim they have made serious preparations and their Oktyabrsky Island can be the first to host Russia’s first regulated cryptocurrency exchange.

According to Vladimir Zarudniy, General Director of the Kaliningrad Oblast Development Corporation, the region is ready to propose its own rules and regulations regarding the verification of users and the taxation of funds upon withdrawal from the trading platform. Kaliningrad’s attempts at self-regulation come at a decisive moment for cryptocurrencies in Russia. The draft law “On digital financial asserts” is expected to be adopted by the end of the year, while an industry association has recently proposed an alternative bill that will also be discussed with regulators and stakeholders in the coming weeks.

ECB President Sees No Need for Central Bank Crypto

The European Central Bank (ECB) has no immediate plans to issue its own cryptocurrency and doesn’t see a need to do that. Nevertheless, according to its president Mario Draghi, the bank is “carefully analyzing the potential consequences of issuing such a currency as a complement to cash.” In a letter to the European Parliament this week, Draghi said that in its analysis ECB is considering the implications in regards to the transmission of monetary policy, the payment systems, the financial stability and, more broadly, the economy.

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinECB’s president further elaborated that from an economic perspective, introducing a central bank digital currency could potentially yield both costs and benefits which would depend on its specific features. In his words, a central bank coin could meet demands for the security and digitalization of the economy and allow monetary policy to reach a wider range of economic actors more directly. On the other hand, as Draghi pointed out, a crypto issued by a central bank, which would provide an alternative to some deposits, could affect the intermediation and leverage in the banking system, a traditional role of the commercial banks.

Mario Draghi mentioned several reasons why ECB is currently not considering issuing a digital coin, including the nascence of the distributed ledger technology and the possibility of central banks entering into competition with the banking sector for retail deposits. A similar opinion was expressed earlier this year by a high-ranking official from the Swiss National Bank. Both indicate that the interest in state- or central bank-issued cryptocurrencies among financial regulators and government institutions is decreasing.

Different Mood – Ukraine Preparing for National Coin

The Daily: Binance Tests Fiat Exchange, Russians Mull Own Crypto Platforms, ECB Not Ready for CoinThe above observation, however, is not necessarily valid for all countries and central banks. For example, the executive power in Kiev, which is still working on a regulatory framework for the crypto space, has recently confirmed its intentions to proceed with plans to develop a national crypto. The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) is preparing to launch a “national electronic currency,” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said at the annual meeting of the Yalta European Strategy, local media reported. Poroshenko added that several government registries will soon start using distributed ledgers to keep their records. Pilot projects to transfer the state land cadastre and the legal registry to blockchain are already in motion, the Ukrainian head of state noted during his speech at the forum.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Huobi ‘Aggressively’ Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest Exchange

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest Exchange

Crypto exchange Huobi is entering the Japanese market by acquiring a majority stake in one of the 16 government-approved crypto exchanges in the country. The company says it plans to “aggressively scale this trading platform into the largest in Japan,” with an eye on global expansion in the future.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Huobi Entering Japanese Market

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest ExchangeHuobi is expanding into the Japanese market by acquiring a majority stake in Bittrade, a Japanese government-approved crypto exchange.

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest ExchangeBittrade’s owner announced on Wednesday, September 12, that Huobi Global’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Huobi Japan Holding Ltd., “will take a majority stake” in the exchange. Speaking of his strategic partnership with Huobi, Singaporean entrepreneur Eric Cheng, who owns 100% of Bittrade, said:

The parties intend to aggressively scale this trading platform into the largest in Japan with the potential to extend its services globally.

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest ExchangeEstablished in China in 2013, Huobi has since moved its headquarters to Singapore. The company now claims to have an accumulated trading volume of over US$1 trillion, with “millions of users” worldwide. “Geographically, Huobi has compliance teams in Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, the UAE, Luxembourg, and other countries around the world,” the company wrote.

In addition, Huobi has been expanding to other regions through partnerships with local companies. Last month, Huobi announced that it is launching crypto exchanges in the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Canada.

Bittrade Already an Approved Exchange in Japan

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest ExchangeOne of the biggest hurdles in entering the Japanese market right now is getting approval from the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Since Japan legalized cryptocurrency as a means of payment in April last year, all exchanges in the country are required to register with the FSA.

Last year, the agency approved 16 crypto exchanges. However, the approval rate has plummeted since the hack of Coincheck in January. The agency has since tightened its evaluation process of new exchanges. This has led to 13 of 16 quasi-exchanges to withdraw their applications. Bittrade is one of the 16 FSA-approved crypto exchanges.

Last week, Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten acquired Everybody’s Bitcoin, one of the three remaining quasi-exchanges, to fast-track into the Japanese crypto market.

Bittrade Previously Acquired by Singaporean Entrepreneur

Huobi 'Aggressively' Enters Japanese Market With Plans to Become the Largest ExchangeIn May, Cheng “acquired 100 percent stake in two Japanese licensed companies,” Singapore Business Review reported. “With the acquisition, Cheng, the CEO of Upper Joyful Ltd, will own [the] controlling stake in the two firms — FX Trade Financial Co Ltd (FX Trade) and its affiliate company, Bittrade Co Ltd.”

Cheng has been investing in high-growth opportunities and currently has investments in regions such as Australia, Mainland China, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to Wednesday’s announcement.

What do you think of Huobi entering the Japanese market? Do you think Huobi will succeed in becoming the largest exchange in Japan? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Huobi, and Bittrade.


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