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DBS expects to double membership on crypto currency platform

written by Bella Palmer
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DBS's senior executives said DBS Digital Exchange is seeing robust demand from corporate investors and accredited individuals

Surging popularity of crypto currencies has posed a problem for mainstream banks as they try and balance clients' interest in digital coins with regulatory concerns about their risks.

Singapore's DBS Group expects to double the number of members on its new platform for crypto currency trading to 1,000 by end-December and grow this by 20-30% annually for the next three years as digital tokens gain acceptability.

In an interview, DBS's senior executives said DBS Digital Exchange, set up in December as a members-only bourse, is seeing robust demand from corporate investors, accredited individuals and investment firms that manage the fortunes of wealthy families.

We are growing very rapidly. Investors are gradually exploring crypto currencies and digital assets, said Eng-KwokSeat Moey, head of capital markets at DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank by assets, and chairperson of the exchange.

DBS's foray in the crypto business come after its CEO Piyush Gupta steered the bank to invest billions of dollars to upgrade its technology infrastructure over the past eight years as it embraced cloud computing and digitised its services.

Eng-Kwok said DBS' position as one of the biggest wealth managers in Asia and its expertise in originating deals in capital markets would help it attract users and grow trading volume.

The move comes at a time when DBS is looking to boost fee-based income as net interest income decreases amid low interest rates.

Eng-Kwok said the bourse hopes to list at least half a dozen security tokens by end-2022.

Singapore's central bank brought crypto businesses under a new regulatory framework that came into effect in January 2020.

DBS' brokerage arm has received an-principle approval under the new regime, which will allow it to directly support asset managers and companies to trade in digital payment tokens through the bourse. The Singapore Exchange has a 10% stake in the bourse.

Having mainstream banks helps foster an environment where settlement risk is minimal and there are safeguards in place for custody of user deposits and security of transactions, said Ganesh Viswanath-Natraj, assistant professor of finance at Warwick Business School in Britain.

DBS Digital Exchange offers trading services between bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and XRP, and U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong dollars and the yen.

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