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Singapore Overtakes HK in Fintech Race, Friendly Bitcoin & Blockchain Regulations

Seunghyun Cho, the chairman of a private investment company called Marvelstone, oversees the development and operations of six fintech startups. In a recent interview with Taipei Times, Cho explained the team’s decision to establish its headquarters in Singapore and the local government’s friendly regulations towards fintech startups, blockchain development and digital currencies.

Despite the rapid growth of the Singaporean fintech and digital currency industries, Japan and South Korean markets are substantially larger, primarily due to the sheer number of startups engaging in the industry. The market cap of the fintech industry in countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong easily surpasses that of Singapore. However, Cho stated that Singapore is defeating Hong Kong in becoming Asia’s fintech leader.

As the chairman of a private investment company, Cho felt entitled to securing a practical and efficient ecosystem for its subsidiary companies to work and operate in. After thorough evaluation of the regulatory frameworks and policies in the fintech industries of Hong Kong and other leading Asian countries, Cho felt that the Singaporean government is more aware of the development of fintech and is highly optimistic of the field.

“We are quite impressed by government agencies here,” said Cho. Like Cho, major professional services and research firm Ernst & Young (EY) ranked Singapore as the world’s fourth leading fintech hub, surpassing Hong Kong, the second largest in Asia, which was ranked at 7. EY researchers described Singapore as the “preferred gateway” into Asia, mostly because of the country’s innovative and progressive regulations.

On September 21, Marvelstone also launched the world’s largest fintech hub in Singapore’s Central Business District, to facilitate the development of emerging technologies such as the blockchain technology and digital currencies. More to that, Marvelstone secured US$12.6 million from venture capital firms and angel investors in February, with which Marvelstone and Cho funded growing fintech, bitcoin and blockchain startups.

In an interview, Marvelstone managing partner Ko Hyun Sik also emphasized the growth of fintech in Singapore and noted the importance of targeting startups in rapidly growing areas like the blockchain and payments market. Sik further added that the future of blockchain and bitcoin will start with Asia, as countries like Singapore begin to lead the global fintech market.

‘Fintech is a sector that is booming in Asia and we have see vast opportunities and developments in this area in the last year or so. With an Asian-focus, 10K has identified the immense growth of fintech so far and is set to offer a structured curriculum to support to increasing thirst for knowledge in this area, hence the Fintech Institute.’ said Ko Hyun-Sik.

In terms of regulations, the Singaporean authorities have been quite lenient with startups and investors mostly due to the involvement of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in the development of blockcain. In November, MAS announced a partnership with R3 to understand the technology better and explore the potential of the technology in the traditional realm of finance.

Sik and the rest of the Marvelstone team is working close with regulators like the MAS to facilitate the growth of blockchain and bitcoin in Singapore, and ensure that startups avoid conflict with local regulations.

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