Singapore is becoming a global hotspot for blockchain and crypto development thanks to its friendly regulatory environment, reliable infrastructure, and stable politics. As China and the US scrutinize the industry, the city-state has seen a growing number of crypto companies setting up offices in its territory. Singapore also has a crypto unicorn, Matrixport, which entered the triple comma club after raising a USD 100 million Series C round in early August.
Matrixport is a crypto-financial services platform that offers a variety of products, including trading, lending, institutional-grade custody solutions, and asset management for institutional and retail clients. The company counts partners of DST Global, Qiming Venture Partners, and Tiger Global as investors.
The firm was established by Chinese crypto entrepreneurs Jihan Wu and Yuesheng Ge, also known as John Ge, in 2019. The pair met when they both worked at an investment firm in Beijing in 2012. Ge was an analyst, while Wu was an investment manager and entrepreneur already familiar with crypto.
Wu, Matrixport’s current chairman, was the founder and manager of China’s first bitcoin community site, Babite, and was also the first to translate into Chinese in 2011 the original Bitcoin white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto—the so-called father of Bitcoin. In 2013, Wu co-founded Bitmain with entrepreneur Micree Zhan, growing the company into China’s biggest maker of cryptocurrency mining machines.
Wu resigned in January as CEO and chairman of Bitmain after a legal battle with Zhan, who took control of the company. In March, Wu established cryptocurrency cloud mining service platform Bitdeer, in which Ge is also a shareholder.
According to a Matrixport spokesperson, Ge was also a founding partner of Bitmain and served as the company’s director and head of investment and financing. “Bitmain’s business is about chip design and hardware manufacturing, but we wanted to shift our focus to financial services, and so we founded Matrixport,” Ge, CEO of Matrixport, told KrASIA.
“We believe blockchain is the next generation of the financial network, and we want to make a meaningful contribution in this revolution,” he added.
Different solutions for crypto-traders
“We package our underlying asset management into different kinds of products, so clients can choose what’s best for them, depending on their understanding and risk appetite,” Ge said about Matrixport. As crypto becomes mainstream, Matrixport has continuously diversified its products to attract new generations of crypto investors, he added.
The startup currently manages over 13 crypto financial products. Besides offering trading and lending services, one of the company’s flagship offerings is the Dual Currency Product, a non-principal protected investment product in Bitcoin and USD Coin with a floating return, where the yield is secured at the time of purchase. It is the world’s first dual-currency product in the crypto market, according to Ge.
This week, the firm launched a new product called ETH 2.0 Staking Earn, which enables investors to participate in Ethereum 2.0 staking at a low threshold and earn yields from Ethereum lock-up rewards.
Matrixport records over USD 5 billion in average monthly trading volume and had USD 10 billion in assets under management and custody as of March 2021. The company holds commercial licenses in Hong Kong and Switzerland, with over 220 employees serving customers across Asia and Europe. More than half of Matrixport’s clients are high-net-worth individuals who hold about USD 1 million in value in crypto, according to Ge.
“If you have millions in crypto assets, you would want to do different kinds of investments and asset management. This is our mission—we want to offer more financial services to crypto investors,” Ge said.
Confidence in Singapore’s crypto industry
Crypto adoption is growing in Singapore and the Asian region. Over 43% of Singaporeans own some form of crypto, 93% of Singaporeans have heard of cryptocurrency, and 90% know about Bitcoin, according to a 2021 report by the Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index. The government’s positive approach to cryptocurrencies is the number one factor driving confidence in digital currencies, the report highlights.
Ge agrees that the Singaporean government has been “very supportive” regarding crypto innovation and regulation. That’s one of the main reasons for choosing Singapore as Matrixport’s headquarter, he said.
“Singapore is definitely an important financial hub in Asia. I think the government has been doing a lot of good work in creating regulations that nurture [the crypto industry], without limiting innovation,” he said. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are also promising markets for crypto, Ge added.
More people will become familiar with cryptocurrencies in Singapore and globally, while regulators will also follow up with better policies regarding digital currencies, Ge said. “There’s always something new happening in the crypto market. We only talked about Bitcoin five years ago, but now we have different tokens like Ethereum, ERC 20, and more. Blockchain also gave birth to other sectors like NFTs and Metaverse, so industry players and regulators need to catch up with the rapid development of crypto.”
Ge mentioned plans to take Matrixport public in the next three to five years, “possibly in the US, where several crypto companies like Coinbase are already listed.”
As of now, the company plans to continue investing in research and development to enhance the platform’s cybersecurity and product offerings. Matrixport will also use the fresh funding to support global expansion and obtain licenses to operate in more jurisdictions, Ge said, without revealing details on the firm’s next markets.
“We consistently launch new products. This is part of our culture. Going forward, we want to expand our customer base to get clients from the traditional financial market, like family office institutions and traditional hedge funds,” said Ge.