Singapore has made efforts to establish itself as a global hub for the cryptocurrency industry.

A group of local and international academics met in Singapore on Thursday, November 15, to discuss the impact of digital currencies on monetary policy and financial stability, says an official report released by the Singaporean government.

The conference, a two-day session entitled Workshop on Digital Currency Economics and Policy was funded and organized by the National University of Singapore Business School, the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economic Research, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

“This workshop aims to deepen understanding of the important monetary policy and regulatory issues implied by these fast-evolving developments,” said Edward Robinson, Assistant Managing Director and Chief economist at Monetary Authority of Singapore. “In conjunction with the third Singapore FinTech Festival, it features specially commissioned studies that can contribute to formalising a framework for analysis. A robust understanding of the implications of digital currencies will inform policies pertinent to central banks and regulators.”

Voices at the Conference Are Bullish on Crypto, Albeit in Slightly Different Ways

Academics speaking at the conference have presented several arguments in favor of digital currencies. Professor David Yermack argued that the introduction of a private digital currency could promote economic welfare by reducing incentives for government-induced inflation and by providing an opportunity to diversify local investments. His sentiments were echoed by Professor Berry Eichengreen of the Berkeley Department of Economics, who argued that “while the centralised control of monies has rarely been complete, the bias towards concentration of currency issuance in the hands of a central government is clear.”

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Famed economist Kenneth Rogoff, who also spoke at the event, presented a slightly different view. According to a government report on the first day of the event, Rogoff said that “digital currencies may have a future as regulated, central-bank issued currencies, rather than private ones.”

Singapore Is Gunning to Establish Itself as Worldwide Crypto Industry Hub

In late September, reports emerged that Singapore is determined to become the first country to “fully embrace” cryptocurrencies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore published a “Guide to Digital Token Offerings” last year, in which a clear legal structure was established for token sales.

Of the report, Damien Pang (Head of the Technology Infrastructure Office under the FinTech & Innovation Group (FTIG) at the Monetary Authority of Singapore) said that “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.”

It doesn’t aim to regulate technology itself but [its] purpose.”

*This post is credited to Finance Magnates

Finally banks may have found a problem that blockchain is able to solve now and at scale: cross border currency transfers.

The banking sector has seen years of overhype and experimentation surrounding distributed ledger technology, but one project led by JPMorgan Chase, the Interbank Information Network (IIN), is quietly producing results at scale.

The IIN is essentially a more efficient way for participating banks to transfer US dollars across borders and institutions. Its elevator pitch is that problematic payments, which are currently being held up for as much as two days for compliance issues or to resolve errors, could go through almost instantly under the new system.

The network does not have the wow factor of other fintech innovations like chatbots and robot traders, but its obscurity does not detract from its significance. A success would buoy spirits in an industry that has spent $1.7bn on blockchain projects which have yet to meet banks’ “lofty expectations”, according to analysts at market intelligence advisory Greenwich Associates.

“Certainly from a size of ecosystem perspective and starting to do something in production, having [so many] banks [participate] and some of the world’s biggest banks is a big deal,” says David Treat, head of Accenture’s capital markets blockchain practice.

Until the end of 2017 “everything was experimental and prototypes, production was something small and safe in the corner,” he says. “What we’ve seen this year is a move to real life production. And now the first of to those ecosystems is taking on real life use cases.”

Mr Treat hints that while the IIN is out on its own now as the industry’s only blockchain project of scale, it will not enjoy that status for long. “More and more proof points are coming out that are building confidence among leaders in this industry, that we’re actually at the point where real value is going to happen,” he adds.

There is still an open debate on what “real value” is. Blockchain’s early evangelists saw the technology’s potential for greatly reducing banks’ costs by eliminating manual reconciliation work and other labour intensive database tasks.

Banks do not expect IIN to generate significant savings, however, either now or in the future.

“Blockchain is frankly a great technology, however, I’m not sure that the initial hypothesis that everyone had about saving significant sums of money is where you’ll see a lot of the new products being developed,” says Umar Farooq, head of blockchain at JPMorgan. “It will be much more about doing things that could not be done without blockchain technology, creating new products . . . When you look at it purely as an expense saving mechanism that limits the potential of the technology.’

Instead of fixating on costs, JPMorgan has spoken about the potential for IIN to help banks fend off competition from fintech starts up which have exploited inefficiencies in cross border payments to offer cheaper and faster solutions.

Whether IIN can become big enough to do that, and to have any sort of real impact in the marketplace, remains to be seen. JPMorgan estimates that IIN will handle more than 300,000 transactions a day, a relatively small number when compared with the 14.5m cross-border payments processed through the Swift system daily.

The number of transactions grows exponentially as new banks join IIN. The network is growing fast, and now has more than 100 members. The dynamic between the IIN and fintech is an interesting one. For years, banks have been insisting that fintechs are friends not foes and Mr Treat says that spirit still generally holds.

In the case of IIN, however, fintechs had minimal involvement in the network’s development, and the project’s objectives include protecting market share which fintechs, such as Transferwise and Revolut are targeting.

“If a fintech takes an aggressive stance against a bank and it’s not a two way partnership, sure, there’s massive competition and a very tough road,” says Mr Treat. “There are more (bank/fintech relationships) that are actually flourishing . . . than where there’s outward competition.”

Mr Farooq says that while fintechs were “not currently involved directly” in the IIN, “we actively participate with fintechs across all parts of the bank”.

Inefficiency in banks’ legacy payment systems is arguably one of the tougher problems for a third party fintech to address, since the solution requires an intimate knowledge of the problems, which most fintech outsiders simply would not have. The next big blockchain effort might be a more collaborative venture across the banks to fintech divide.

*This post is credited to The Financial Times Limited 

Spain’s BBVA and two partner banks have completed the first syndicated loan on the blockchain, providing a working example of how transactions in the $4.6tn-a-year market can be simplified and made faster using technology that underpins cryptocurrencies.

Syndicated loans were identified early on as a key use for blockchain in financial services, since banks rely on outdated and inefficient processes including faxes to share information between different parties who are structuring complex agreements.

Combining shared databases and cryptography, blockchain technology is the basis for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Banks have seized on the technology, which allows multiple parties to have simultaneous access to a constantly updated digital ledger that cannot be altered, as a way to cut costs and speed up many activities.

On Tuesday, BBVA used a private blockchain network to arrange a $150m syndicated loan for Red Electrica, the Spanish grid operator, with co-lenders MUFG of Japan and BNP Paribas of France. Legal advisers Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills also had access to the system which allowed all parties to exchange information instantly.

The information was time-stamped, to show exactly when each event occurred, and the network was secured with user codes. Once the contract was signed, it was given a unique identifier that was recorded on the Ethereum blockchain, preserving its authenticity.

BBVA says the blockchain technology, which is being rolled out on a pilot basis, simplifies and speeds up the process of completing syndicated loans from about two weeks to a day or two. Loan signing and documentation processing, which traditionally takes a few hours, can be done in minutes.

As well as the saving time, moving syndicated loans to the blockchain will also deliver a “huge reduction in internal costs” for clients, Ricardo Laiseca, BBVA’s head of global finance, told the FT. He said: “Everything is automatically recorded by the system, in terms of back office and operational costs.”

Mr Laiseca said that BBVA had a pipeline of “five or six” other syndicated loans that would be done over the blockchain in the coming months as the pilot continues.

“We are offering these technologies for collaboration with any other banks . . . This is not just for BBVA, we feel that as a second stage (we are) working on a new markets infrastructure which will be good for everyone.”

Another platform built by fintech group Finastra and pioneered by the UK’s NatWest is offering syndicated loan servicing over blockchain, using the Corda distributed ledger technology. which is due to go live on November 17. In the broader lending space, BBVA earlier this year issued the world’s first corporate loan by blockchain.

The banking industry’s single largest blockchain project remains the Interbank Information Network, where more than 75 banks led by JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Canada and ANZ are using distributed ledger technology for some interbank payments.

*This post is credited to The Financial Times 

David King, technology writer specializing in privacy, blockchain and FinTech, shares his view of the China’s blockchain technology journey, explaining key regulations, policies, and technology’s use-cases in the country.

In a recent broadcast, China Central Television (CCTV), the dominant state-controlled broadcast company announced in an hour-long broadcast that “the value of blockchain is 10 times that of the internet”, and that blockchain is the next significant global technological revolution, exceeding the importance of the Internet, according to Quartz which analyzed the implications for China and beyond.

This groundbreaking newscast included Chinese government officials, as well as Don Tapscott, a well-known Canadian author of the book Blockchain Revolution. China’s position on blockchain may surprise outsiders because the country historically held a very skeptical, if not overtly hostile view of cryptocurrency.  In the last year, China banned crypto exchanges and initial coin offerings. They also curtailed crypto mining.

Around the same time, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission issued a warning to investors that tokens issued via ICO may be classified as securities, and that the Commission is “concerned about an increase in the use of ICOs to raise funds in Hong Kong and elsewhere.”

However despite proceeding with extreme caution on cryptocurrency, technology experts and cryptocurrency advocates in China were pleased with the country’s pro-blockchain perspective and its potential for the world’s largest country by population, specifically citing the three main points of the televised presentation: “Blockchain is the second era of the Internet” (Don Tapscott, author of “Blockchain Revolution”), “The value of blockchain is 10 times that of the Internet” (Stanford physics professor and founder of Danhua Capital Zhang Shoucheng), and “Blockchain is the machine that produces trust.”

Xi Jinping, president of China, spoke in May 2018 about the potential breakthrough technologies that blockchain could produce, including applications in artificial intelligence. “A new generation of technology represented by artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communications, internet of things, and blockchain is accelerating breakthrough applications,” Xi said, via a translator.

MATRIX AI Network and Other Chinese Companies Leading the Way

MATRIX AI Network, a company registered in Hong Kong, is launching an intelligent, open-source, new generation blockchain that aims to solve major challenges currently constraining the development and adoption of blockchain technology. MATRIX leverages the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to deliver an easier, safer, faster and more flexible blockchain.

“In addition to AI experts, we also gathered experts in distributed computing who understood network architecture, topology, and latency. We wanted the team to bring fresh eyes to how blockchain had developed to date, and innovate from there,” says MATRIX AI Network Chief AI Scientist Steve Deng.

The results, to date, have been impressive, with MATRIX AI Network recently confirming that system throughput speeds exceed 50,000 transactions per second (TPS).

In addition to faster and more efficient transaction processing, MATRIX differentiates itself from previous blockchains by offering breakthrough technologies in building AI-enabled autonomous and self-optimizing blockchain networks, featuring multi-chain collaboration and decoupling of data and control blocks.  With the successful completion and release of its Testnet in October 2018, the MATRIX Main Network is scheduled to go online on December 30, 2018.

China appears to be lending support to other domestic companies with promising blockchain technology including NEO, a blockchain platform and cryptocurrency designed to build a scalable network of decentralized applications and QTUM, a blockchain technology that bridges Ethereum’s smart contracts on top of Bitcoin’s stable blockchain while using proof of stake for verification.

Implications for China

The discussions and presentations made it clear that China is angling to become an epicenter of innovation. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong are all trying to attract blockchain startups and become a laboratory for FinTech innovation.

However, critics are concerned that blockchain technology will still be unable to be used in China for cryptocurrency applications. Critics state that prohibiting and/or regulating the use of cryptocurrencies in China, but embracing blockchain, indicates that the foundation of blockchain technology is being misused; meaning that the fundamental idea behind blockchain encourages a free market without government interference, which may diverge from China’s interests.

Of interest, media outlets are reporting that the People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang supports cryptocurrency, which could be a reason for the country’s embrace of blockchain technology. China is ahead the rest of the world when it comes to using digital currency on a daily basis. Even vending machines in China are equipped with the technology to accept a payment from a scanned code on a person’s phone.

In 2017, a conference titled (note, this is translated to English from Chinese) “2017 Trustworthy Blockchain Convention” was held in China, where government officials discussed their plans for instituting a standardized blockchain into the Chinese economy. Also discussed were ideas about effective regulation of the technology.

One trader and technology insider speculates that China is embracing blockchain technology to reap financial rewards. For instance, each cryptocurrency transaction made results in fees generated for any transaction and/or transfer of the currency. If the Chinese government creates its own cryptocurrency, the government itself could potentially benefit tremendously from any fees associated with the transfers and transactions.

China Embarks on Blockchain Technology Research 

In January 2018, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, discussions online and in person took place that illuminated the ideas and the future of blockchain in China. One article from the Annual Meeting argued that since blockchain technology is difficult to understand, policies are being outlined to provide guidance for industry executives and investors alike.

In September 2017, the Trusted Blockchain Open Lab was launched in China. This research facility was launched by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a research arm under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology umbrella. The purpose of this lab is to research and develop blockchain technology in China under general use. It will not address how blockchain is utilized in cryptocurrency, and it will not look at the blockchain uses in the cryptocurrency exchange markets.

Government Regulatory Guidance

Also discussed at the World Economic Forum was the idea that the world is on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, as evidenced by the work of Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. His book, ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ details how he believes that “…we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.”

As China readies itself for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it appears necessary to utilize blockchain technology to ensure the highest security of digital technology. For example, some experts believe that China is poised to develop work between blockchain experts and established data and technology companies to integrate blockchain technology into a wider scope. Government regulation is essential to integrating blockchain technology into everyday uses.

As China embarks on its own blockchain technology journey, it will be important to keep an eye on regulations, policies, and general uses for the technology outside of cryptocurrencies.

*This post is credited to CoinSpeaker

To be sure, digital currency markets have had their ups and downs. A recent study by Gallup shows that only 2 percent of investors are currently purchasing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but one in four is intrigued. With major banks betting on the space, however, that math may be about to change.

Whether or not your company accepts cryptocurrency as a payment method, it would do well to pay attention to the surprising ways the business world is already using digital currency:

1. Investing in customer loyalty.

Loyalty programs have long struggled to find the right incentive structure. According to the 2017 Colloquy Loyalty Census, more than half of loyalty memberships in the U.S. are inactive. The report says approximately 30 percent of surveyed U.S. and Canadian consumers have left loyalty programs without ever redeeming a point or a mile.

Could cryptocurrencies reignite customer loyalty? Cryptocurrency gives customers want they want — cash — without the security and logistics challenges of doling out cash.

In Zurich, for example, Caffe Lattesso encourages purchasers to redeem codes found on its bottles for loyalty rewards in the form of digital coins, which can be exchanged within a few months for other digital tokens or traditional currency. EZ Rent-A-Car is following suit with a program that allows customers to exchange their loyalty points for digital coins.

2. Banking on accessory technologies.

Rather than re-invigorate their existing customer base, other entrepreneurs could look at building a new one around the cryptocurrency market. Investors may start focusing less on initial coin offerings and more on building the technological ecosystem around cryptocurrencies.

Demand is growing quickly for digital currency point-of-sale systems, for example. Although most of the demand is currently in South Korea, at least one company plans to distribute some 100,000 point-of-sale machines by 2021. Vendors that accept cryptocurrencies will also need accounting and reporting software to support the payment method.

3. Making change with ease.

But cryptocurrencies are good for more than spending money; they’re also great for giving back. Eric Tippetts, co-founder of NASGO pointed out at the United Nations’ Media for Social Change Summit, cryptocurrency’s digital nature makes set-it-and-forget-it philanthropy possible.

“Instead of voicing a commitment to philanthropy, the blockchain makes it possible to program giving into the operation itself,” Tippetts explained in a Cheddar interview. NASGO’s financial systems, he noted, direct every seventeenth revenue cycle into an account for humanitarian contributions.

Creatives, too, are using cryptocurrency to spread their message.

In the Cheddar interview, Tippetts and Jaafar Jackson, son of Jermaine Jackson and nephew of Michael Jackson, discussed plans to tokenize upcoming musical releases as a way to raise awareness, gather contributions and donate part of their earnings to humanitarian causes. Ashton Kutcher, in fact, recently donated $4 million in XRP tokens, a digital currency introduced by fintech startup Ripple, to the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund during his appearance on DeGeneres’s show.

Far from the fad its detractors thought it would be, digital currency is become a staple of the business world sooner than anyone expected. If it can soup up tired loyalty programs, open new opportunities in software and streamline charitable giving, then what’s next? Entrepreneurs can’t buy an answer to that question — but they can build it.

*This post is credited to Entrepreneur

A number of the crypto industry’s biggest firms have been included in this year’s CB Insights Fintech 250 list. Compiled annually, the list ranks 250 of the most promising businesses in the Fintech space ranging from capital markets to insurance to wealth management and digital banking.

Drawn from a global pool of almost 4,000 applicants and nominees, inclusion on the list is based on a number of factors including data submitted by the firms, market viability and business models.  The company’s Mosaic Score, a holistic algorithm developed by CB Insights that measures the overall health and growth potential of private companies.

“Insurgent Startups”

Referencing the increasing importance of crypto startups within the space, this year’s announcement speaks of the transformation of the financial services space by “insurgent startups”, which is borne out by the number of new companies on this year’s list.

In total, there are 113 new companies on this year’s list., BitPesa, Revolut, Robinhood, Xapo, Ripple labs, Coinbase and BitFlyer are among the most noticeable blockchain and cryptocurrency firms that feature prominently on the list following a year of continued, and in some cases record-breaking growth in spite of a general and sustained crypto market downturn.

In January, CCN reported that Philippine bitcoin wallet app achieved a milestone of 5 million customers, in the process becoming one of Asia’s hottest financial companies making serious headway into the $400 billion overseas remittance market with crypto.

Data from CB Insights show that the 2018 Fintech 250 raised nearly $53 billion in funding in the past five years. Listed among the 30 unicorns, companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion are United States based Robinhood valued at $5.6 and Coinbase at $1.6. Robinhood is also featured as 2018 top most well-funded Retail Investing & Secondary Markets company.

In total, no fewer than 15 blockchain and cryptocurrency-related companies are represented on the list including bitPesa, Ripple Labs, Polychain Capital, Digital Asset Holdings, Coinbase, Chain, Brave Software, bitFlyer, Factom, Juzhen Financials and Blockstream among others.

The report reveals that among them, the fintech 250 companies have raised $31.85B from 373 deals in one year. Ribbit Capital is tagged top venture capital investor company on the 2018 Fintech 250 list; it invested in Robinhood, Wealthfront, Gusto, Coinbase, Cross River Bank, and Upgrade. The current year’s list has recorded more equity investments and venture funding than that of the preceding year- 2017 with  Ant Financial raising an unequaled  $ the second quarter of 2018. The Top Acquisition for the year is PayPal’s takeover of iZettle in the second quarter for $2.2 billion, double the amount the company sought to raise with an IPO.

*This post is credited to CCN

Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, has recently stated he believes blockchain technology has “huge potential,” and that embracing the technology is essential for the organization’s goals.

His words came during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Banks’ Annual Meetings in Bali, and were filmed by CNBC. They came as he mentioned the World Bank’s mission is to end poverty and boost prosperity.

Kim noted there are innovations in the world that can “help us leapfrog generations of bad practice,” and that it could take “forever in terms of reducing corruption.” He added:

We talked about cryptocurrencies but we think distributed ledger [technology] has huge potential and we issued the first blockchain bond in August, where we created, allocated, transferred and managed the entire bond through blockchain technology.

Adding to this, Kim said using blockchain technology not only helped reduce the amount of paperwork the World Bank had to deal with after launching the world’s first blockchain bond, but also helped it reduce costs.

Distributed ledger technology, he added, can be extremely helpful in the future. In his words, the World Bank Group hasn’t been keeping up with the latest developments and is not “doing it in a way that would help our clients take advantages of the great things that are coming out.”

Kim added that universal access to financial services by 2020 is one of the World Bank’s goals, after restating the organization thinks there’s “huge potential” in this type of technology and, presumably, fintech in general.

Things in the tech space, he said, are moving incredibly quickly. Since the organization deals with countries that don’t have tech centers like Silicon Valley, he noted it’s “absolutely” the organization’s responsibility to keep up with these new technologies.

As CryptoGlobe reported various organizations have been looking into the crypto and fintech space and its potential impact on the global financial scene. The Financial Stability Board (FSB), an “international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system,” published a report arguing the growing popularity of cryptoasset could affect financial stability.

In its World Economic Outlook: Challenges to Steady Growth report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mentioned that cryptoassets could create “new vulnerabilities” in the global financial system.

*This post is credited to CryptoGlobe

While China continues to eye cryptocurrencies with a healthy dose of suspicion, acceptance, and popularity in the rest of Asia is on the increase. In fact, a Hong Kong-based firm is hope’s its investment will help pave the way for a cryptocurrency bank.

According to a recent report, the firm in question has bought a stake in a cryptocurrency company, a start-up with a goal to become a licensed and authorized cryptocurrency investment bank.

The platform, which is based in the crypto hub of Zug in Switzerland is, however, still awaiting approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to trade as a banking and securities dealer.

This approval will allow the start-up to extend to Asia and assist blockchain-based platforms to gain access to traditional banking systems. The spokesperson for the investment capital firm explained their support of the start-up by saying that the firm believes it can support the cryptocurrency start-up’s plan to expand into Asia, a region where cryptocurrency trading and blockchain projects have been flourishing.

This support could extend to the start-up’s ICO, which is scheduled for some time in the third quarter of next year, where the investment firm could make a contribution.

While the capital firm manages over HK$7.83 billion ($1 billion) and has interests in FinTech and logistics, this is the company’s first foray into blockchain.

Both the investing firm’s investment amount, as well as the contribution of the U.S.-based asset management firm, have not been disclosed.

The start-up’s CEO stated that the bank’s first focus will be on transaction banking. It was explained that it has been tough for blockchain start-ups to grow their businesses as they are unable to access the traditional banking system.

The start-up, thus, is building infrastructure to allow companies to pay salaries in cryptocurrencies, and bridging the disconnect between fiat and cryptocurrency payment.

Another reporting agency previously reported that a few surveys show that there is indeed an interest in people having parts or even all of their salaries paid in virtual currency.

The company’s CEO also added that the start-up should receive the required regulatory approval in the first half of next year.

They will also eventually offer digital asset custody services to their institutional clients. In addition, the crypto bank will offer liquidity services to exchanges.

This growth in services will extend to staff numbers as the platform plans to double its number of employees by the beginning of next year.

As reported earlier, Hong Kong has been named the eighth-best city for tech enterprises, like the aforementioned start-up.

It was found that, with a score of 59%,  while Hong Kong is not typically viewed as an innovation hub for tech occupiers, it is becoming more appealing for several reasons which include connectivity with Shenzhen and South China, recent expansion in Hong Kong by big tech firms such as the world’s largest social media platform and one of China’s largest multinational conglomerates, which specialises in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology.

Moreover, tech occupiers are attracted to the accelerating investment in fintech in the city.

Moreover, the city is working to facilitate the introduction of virtual banking as another model of service delivery, with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority stating that it welcomes the establishment of virtual banks in Hong Kong, in early September 2018.

The development of virtual banks, according to the HKMA, will promote the application of financial technology [Fintech] and innovation in Hong Kong and offer a new kind of customer experience. In addition, virtual banks can help promote financial inclusion as they normally target the retail segment, including the small and medium-sized enterprises.

If Hong Kong keeps up this pace of manifestation (of the goals/objectives in the Smart City Blueprint), it will move up the ranks of the report.

*This post is credited to OpenGovAsia

Southeast Asia’s financial services industry is rapidly evolving as a result of disruption from new-age fintech companies and the rapid adoption of fintech solutions.

The rise of fintech in the region has been fueled by Southeast Asia’s expanding economies, young-urban-digitally-savvy populations and rising mobile and Internet penetration. Since the past years, several homegrown fintech players have risen to notable size and gained international traction.

The followings are 15 fintech startups founders in Southeast Asia to know:

Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO at ADDO AI  (Singapore)

Ayesha Khanna is the co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an AI advisory firm and incubator. She has been a strategic advisor on AI, smart cities and fintech to clients such as SMRT, Singapore’s largest public transport company; Singtel, Singapore’s largest telco; SOMPO, Japan’s largest insurance firm; Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest bank; and Smart Dubai, the government agency tasked to transform Dubai into a leading smart city. She is also the Founder of 21C GIRLS, a charity that delivers free coding and artificial intelligence classes to girls in Singapore. In 2018, Khanna was named one of Southeast Asia’s groundbreaking female entrepreneurs by Forbes magazine.

Mikko Perez Founder & CEO at Ayannah (Philippines)

Mikko leads growth-stage fintech startup Ayannah, which caters mostly to OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) by offering digital remittances, payments and business solutions through its own platforms: Sendah, Sendah Direct, and Sendah Remit. He has a successful track record investing in and operating innovative technology, new media, and telecom-related ventures.

Some of his previous positions were director of finance and business development at Chikka, investment manager at Next Century Partners, as well as investment banker at JP Morgan Chase (Hambrecht & Quist) in San Francisco where he advised technology, media, and telecom ventures. Mikko serves on the board of several companies and foundations.

Leo Shimada, Co-Founder and CEO at Crowdo (Singapore)

Leo Shimada is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdo, a regional fintech startup running an artificial intelligence (AI) driven online marketplace for debt (P2B lending) and equity (crowdfunding). Crowdo is present and registered with the OJK in Indonesia, licensed by MAS in Singapore, and registered with the SCM in Malaysia. Shimada is a capital market service license representative with MAS and a responsible person (RP) registered with the SCM. He is a recognized thought leader and pioneer within the fintech space and a prolific speaker on how fintech is changing the financing landscape in emerging Asia and impacting conventional finance, businesses and investors. Prior to Crowdo, Shimada worked at McKinsey & Company for close to 9 years, followed by a senior strategy role with a multinational company.

Tanmai Sharma, Founder and CEO at Canopy Pte Ltd (Singapore)

Tanmai Sharma is the founder and CEO of Canopy Pte Ltd, an anonymous account aggregation and analytics platform for financial institutions, wealth management professionals, and high net worth individuals. Formerly known as Mesitis Pte Ltd., Canopy is based in Singapore with additional offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The startup struck a partnership with Credit Suisse in 2017.

Kelvin Teo, Co-Founder of Funding Societies and Modalku (Singapore)

Kelvin Teo is the co-founder of Funding Societies and Modalku, leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms for SMEs in Singapore and Indonesia respectively. The platforms offer loans to SMEs in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, crowdfunded by individual and institutional investors globally. Prior to Funding Societies, Teo served as a consulting professional at KKR Capstone, McKinsey and Accenture. Teo comes from Harvard Business School and National University of Singapore. He is a certified chartered accountant and serves on the advisory committee of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.

Aldi Haryopratomo, CEO at GO-PAY (Indonesia)

Aldi Haryopratomo is the CEO of GO-PAY Group. He joined GO-JEK with a vision to accelerate the adoption of financial services for the unbanked and underbanked, particularly in rural areas where financial services are yet widely available. Haryopratomo is also the founder of MAPAN, an Indonesian lending network recently acquired by GO-JEK Group along with two other local fintech startups.

Siew Yuen Tuck , Co-Founder and Executive Director at Jirnexu (Malaysia)

Yuen Tuck is the founder and CEO of Jirnexu, but on the consumers-side, they are known to run the comparison platform RinggitPlus, KreditGoGo. These platforms allow consumers find and compare various financial and consumer products like credit cards, mortgages, fixed deposit, internet , and insurance policies.

They also provide content around finances. Behind the scenes though, Jirnexu’s business lies in helping banks to digitise and simplify their application process, via the XpressApply software.  Jirnexu is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur with operations in five other countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Prior to starting Jirnexu, Yuen Tuck spent his working years in London as an analyst for Citi, and Axia/Kynkos.

Loi Luu, CEO and Co-Founder at KyberNetwork (Vietnam/Singapore)

Loi Luu is the co-founder and CEO of Kyber network, an on-chain liquidity protocol that powers decentralized applications, including exchanges, funds, lending protocols, payments wallets and so on. Luu is also researcher working on cryptocurrencies, smart contract security and distributed consensus algorithms. His research focuses on several problems of cryptocurrencies from improving security to enhancing scalability and usability of public cryptocurrencies. He holds a PhD in computer science from National University of Singapore, where he worked on blockchain securities.

Richard Koh, Founder and CEO at M-Daq (Singapore)

Richard Koh is the CEO and founder of M-Daq, a company that operates a platform that prices and trades exchange-traded products in a multitude of currencies by blending ‘executable’ foreign exchange (FX) rates into equities and futures products. It provides static or dynamic lock-in FX rates to price foreign goods in local currencies, serving merchants against FX risk. Koh has over 30 years of industry experience in Infocomm, Treasury (Forex) and eCommerce covering the Asia Pacific markets.

Nguyen Ba Diep, Executive Vice Chairman at MoMo (Vietnam)

Nguyen Ba Diep is the executive vice chairman of MoMo, a leading mobile payment company in Vietnam. MoMo offers customer a different way to make payment for both online (MoMo mobile e-wallet) and offline (MoMo Agent). MoMo is one of Vietnam’s most successful fintech platforms and is backed by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered.

Jun Hasegawa Founder at Omise (Thailand)

Jun Hasegawa founded Omise in early 2013 along with his co-founder Ezra Don Harinsut. Omise is among of Thai’s most known fintech success stories. To date they’ve raised up to US$ 50 Million from investors like East Ventures, Ascend Group and Golden Gate Ventures.

Currently Omise is operating out of 4 countries namely; Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore. In recent times the company has seen over 1000% transaction growth.

Val Ji-hsuan Yap, Founder and CEO at PolicyPal  (Singapore)

Val Ji-hsuan Yap is the founder and CEO of PolicyPal, a free app that allows users to organize, and track, all their insurance products in one dashboard, and the PAL Network, a dual-layered protocol for financial assets. Founded in 2016, PolicyPal aims to help customers understand their insurance coverage better. The startup was the first graduate from MAS’ fintech regulatory sandbox. Prior to PolicyPal, Yap worked at Allianz, PwC in London, and OCBC Bank in Singapore. She was recently named to Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list for Finance and Venture Capital, and is a frequent speaker at universities and conferences.

Walter de Oude, Founder and CEO at Singapore Life (Singapore)

Walter de Oude is the founder and CEO of Singapore Life, a company founded in 2014 to provide customers with easy access to quality life and wealth management services. Singapore Life is a life insurance company fully licensed by MAS. It also offers protection solutions made available both digitally and through financial advisers to the retail segment. Singapore Life incorporates multiple insurtech solutions to improve customer experience. Prior to establishing Singapore Life, de Oude was CEO at HSBC Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. and was a board member of HSBC Asset Management Singapore.

Ketki Sen, Co-Founder and Adviser at Spinta Global Accelerator (Singapore)

Ketki Sen is the co-founder and an adviser at Spinta Global Accelerator, managing the operations in Singapore. Sen is a fintech exponent with cross-industry experience in BFSI and ITES/BPO working with large-scale corporations and startups. She has experience in transformation and scaling of businesses through innovative use of technology at organizations such as Citibank and MphasiS. She has managed large change management programs, P&Ls, led cross-cultural global teams, opened new geographies, turned around a loss making region, worked with clients across the world, helped in building successful products, processes, partnerships and businesses from concept to market.

Zac Cheah, Founder and CEO at Pundi X (Indonesia)

Zac Cheah, is the founder and CEO of Pundi X, an Indonesian based startup focused on bringing cryptocurrency payments to the mainstream. Pundi X operates globally with physical offices in Jakarta, London, São Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo, Shenzhen and Singapore.

They are most known for their POS systems which supports both conventional cards payments and payments from cryptocurrency wallets. In their ICO, they’ve raised US$ 35 Million, making them one of the most successful cases of ICOs in Indonesia

*This post is credited to :Fintechnews Singapore

A number of draft bills aimed at encouraging a burgeoning tech industry in Wyoming moved forward earlier this week during a Wyoming Blockchain Task Force meeting in Jackson.

The half-dozen proposals include an effort to create a place for blockchain companies to keep money; a change to business filings in the Secretary of State’s Office; and an effort to reduce regulations for tech startups that might want to come to the Cowboy State.

Task force members were especially excited about an idea that would allow blockchain or other large-scale companies to join a “special depository institution” — similar to a bank or credit union — that would store money without the hassle of bank discretion.

Right now, banks sometimes turn blockchain or cryptocurrency companies away due to uncertainty about the source of the income, and some startups have already gone out of business because they lost access to a bank account, task force member Caitlin Long said.

While it’s unclear who would join the bank, proponents say it’s a needed service for the types of companies they want to attract to the state.

“This is a big deal,” task force member David Pope said. “It provides the ability for companies that operate within the blockchain development space to have bank accounts, which has been a problem for developers.”

Members also said the financial institution wouldn’t lend any money.

“It would be required to hold 100 percent of reserves, and I think that brings a little peace of mind to your traditional banks because they’re not going to be lending,” said Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance. “That puts them right out of competition.”

The bank may be one of the first of its kind in the country, allowing companies to form a communal bank owned and funded exclusively by members, Pope said.

The appeal could expand to other organizations, such as big gun and oil and gas associations, which may also be discriminated against while trying to bank, Lindholm said.

Despite concerns from the banking industry, it’s completely legal for banks to work with blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.

“There are a number of industries that may not be politically correct, and Wyoming has had experience with banks pulling out of various industries (referring to oil and gas) because they’re deemed to be a higher risk,” Long said.

The Wyoming Bankers Association said allowing uninsured banks in Wyoming is a reputational risk to the banking industry, noting the bill is unnecessary. Representatives from the organization voiced these concerns during the Jackson meeting.

“The bill says they have to comply with all federal laws,” said Michael Geesey, executive director at Wyoming Bankers Association. “That’s what we are already doing. When a customer comes in with a company that deals with blockchain, we have to ask a bunch of questions because we’re collecting data for the federal government. There are blockchain companies being banked in Wyoming right now and, if they follow all the federal laws, we can bank them. So, there’s no need for this legislation.”

Another bill would establish a financial technology, or “FinTech,” sandbox in the state, allowing financial products and services to be tested with greater regulatory relief. Wyoming would be only the second state in the country to pass such legislation.

It’s modeled after a similar Arizona law, passed this year, allowing companies to test products for up to two years and serve as many as 10,000 customers before applying for a formal license.

“If someone has an innovative financial product that they want to pursue, they can make an application with the state in order to exempt it for a certain period of time from some of the regulatory structure,” Pope said.

A draft bill requiring the Secretary of State’s Office to implement a new system for business entity filings also remains uncertain.

The business registries bill would create a backend interface that tracks changes to registration information.

Lindholm said it would be a “large appeal” for big companies who might be vulnerable to lawsuits over changes to data, adding it would put Wyoming on a more “competitive ground” with states like Delaware and Nevada, which he said are Wyoming’s “largest competitors” for business registrations.

Over the previous two- year fiscal years, the state’s Business, Compliance, Administration and Election Divisions generated $49 million combined, according to Will Dinneen, public information officer for the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.

Pope said the legislation doesn’t go far enough.

“What I would like to see is registrations being filed on a blockchain to allow a faster, easier online portal,” he said. “So it’s date-stamped, time-stamped and immutable.”

But the change would not happen overnight, Dinneen said, and would come at a significant cost, which the office is still working to assess.

“Our current system is not software simply purchased off the shelf,” he said in an email. “Rather, it is a complex, state-of-the-art system developed by our office. The business services system is built to conform to Wyoming’s business laws and to service Wyoming’s 13 different statutory entity types.”

He said the current system has grown to serve all businesses, community groups, trusts and entrepreneurs in the state. It also provides for the necessary and legally required statutory checks, such as name availability and registered agent, with safeguards that combat fraud and abuse with regular audits and close contact with law enforcement.

“Modifications to this complex and intertwined system must be undertaken very carefully as to not jeopardize our existing customers,” he said.

Lindholm said Wyoming Hackathon participants already developed the software earlier this month, so it wouldn’t cost anything.

The remaining bills would establish blockchain tokens as intangible personal property not subject to securities exemptions, allow blockchain records to be used as evidence in civil actions and authorize trust companies to hold personal information on a blockchain-based archive.

Lindholm said these bills would compound on multiple laws passed this year related to blockchain.

“I think, ultimately, it’s creating a regulatory environment folks want to play in,” he said.

“If this even helps a little bit, it’s a win.”

*This post is credited to GilletteNewsRecord