Gemini APAC’s MD on cryptocurrency regulations in Singapore

If you are a cryptocurrency trader or investor in Singapore, chances are you will come across Gemini, which is dubbed one of the top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

While the company was launched in New York City in 2014 by the famous Winklevoss twins, Gemini established a physical store here in Singapore in 2020.

Led by Jeremy Ng, Managing Director of Gemini in Asia Pacific, Gemini Singapore grew to a team of 30 in less than a year. The team is currently looking to hire more people to join the company.

Gemini’s rapid growth in Singapore is further testament to the interest shown in the cryptocurrency industry in recent years. Similar to Coinhako and Tokocrypto which we talked about earlier, Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Growth and concentration of Gemini

gemini crypto exchange
Image Credit: Blockonomi

According to Jeremy, at the end of May, Gemini was one of the largest fiat-to-crypto exchanges in Singapore, based on official data from the payment gateway Xfers.

Xfers is one of the only payment gateways that local Singaporeans can use to transfer their Singaporean dollars to cryptocurrency exchanges in order to buy cryptocurrency.

Claiming the top spot is no easy feat, especially as Gemini is one of some 300 companies applying for a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to legally operate here.

To ensure it remains in its leadership position in the competitive Singapore cryptocurrency industry, Gemini is focusing on two groups of target segments: retail clients, as well as institutional adoption.

While there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of retail adoption in Singapore, Jeremy and the Gemini team are redoubling their efforts to increase institutional adoption here.

“On the institutional side, this is something we are very focused on. We’ve hired a team of former institutional bankers to help grow the business, and we’re seeing strong demand from institutions. We know they want to work with a properly regulated partner that complies with local regulations, ”Jeremy said.

“We also want to be the number one player in the institutional space, because if you look at who institutions can work with, that space becomes narrower because many don’t want to trade on unregulated exchanges.”

Crypto is all about regulation in Singapore

One of the many things we told Jeremy about was the regulation of cryptocurrencies in Singapore.

Coming from the traditional finance background, where Jeremy has spent his last 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 around this time that cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Singapore realized that they had to open a store here in Singapore if they wanted to continue. to operate.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss Gemini
Gemini co-founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss / Image credit: Bloomberg

“Out of all the exchanges I felt Gemini was the best match for what I was looking for in the way it was set up – Gemini is very regulatory compliant. The co-founders – Cameron and Tyler – take a very long-term approach and they want to build a highly secure, highly regulatory compliant business, and that fits my background, so it’s time for me to switch to crypto, ” Jeremy told Vulcan Post.

In Singapore, with 300 other companies vying for MAS’s official cryptocurrency license, Gemini hopes they will be the first batch of licensees.

“We had several conversations and correspondence with MAS, and we answered all of their questions,” Jeremy said.

“Our chief compliance officer was from Morgan Stanley and for five years he was legal manager of the global financial crimes division of the investment bank in the Asia Pacific region. We therefore have a solid team to reassure regulators. “

Jeremy also pointed out that it all comes down to regulation in Singapore, and he hopes the regulator here is going in the right direction.

What we are seeing is that MAS is actively reaching out to industry players. Temasek is actively investing and DBS recently set up their own digital asset exchange, so we know there will be a lot of tailwind that is going to push cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore.

– Jeremy Ng, Managing Director of Gemini APAC

In 2020, PSA went into effect to regulate cryptocurrency payments and exchanges.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has also released a new electronic tax guide for different types of digital tokens. Later, MAS also made the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) applicable to digital token issuances and released a new guide to digital token offerings.

“It gives reassurance to companies trying to establish a base here in Singapore, and we are 100% committed to growing the business here. For us, regulation is what’s going to drive deeper adoption, whether it’s commercial or institutional adoption, ”Jeremy told Vulcan Post.

What is hindering cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore?

bitcoin singapore
Image Credit: CCN

Asked what further hinders cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore, Jeremy explained that there are three key factors.

The first is the volatility of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency as an asset class is still relatively young and with that comes some volatility. As the asset class matures, volatility will subside and, in fact, cryptocurrency volatility has declined over the past five years.

The second thing would be the negative perception that some might have on cryptocurrencies.

Despite the fact that we are seeing such an increase in adoption by consumers and institutions, many people still have negative connotations with bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.

The notorious and somewhat misleading headlines that crypto makes the news, can be misunderstood by the average consumer, causing poor perception and general public sentiment.

The third and perhaps the biggest hurdle would be the risk of space scams. Not all exchanges are equal and not everyone plays by the rules.

“That being said, there has been growing regulatory oversight that I encourage and support. I think more regulation will lead to more stability and investor protection over the long term, ”noted Jeremy.

NFT, DeFi and the future of blockchain technology

For native or adept cryptocurrencies, it can be difficult to keep up with all the developments that are happening in the rapidly changing industry.

There is a saying that if you think the tech 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 are the development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as well as the development of the decentralized finance (DeFi) space.

decentralized finance
Image Credit: Simplified Blockchain

Explaining the development of DeFi, Jeremy explained that given his experience in the traditional financial space, he knows how financial intermediaries generate income.

“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 centralized platform. But with DeFi, we can create a new banking, commercial or lending platform that is completely independent of any centralized body, thereby democratizing finance. And this is something very exciting.

bank failures
Image Credit: Viewpoints Trading

“If you compare traditional finance and DeFi, it’s actually quite astonishing. In 2008, we witnessed the stock market crash of traditional finance. The financial system collapsed and because the system cannot handle the crash it had to be bailed out. If there had been no government financial bailout in 2008, the entire financial system would have disappeared.

“In DeFi though, look at the recent crash – there are no defaults. It worked exactly as it should, automated margin calls, leverage, nothing breaks; and that’s very powerful.


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Featured Image Credit: The Edge

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