Today was the last day of the Singapore Fintech Festival and we went live once again with the podcast. Your host Walter Jennings was joined by Head of APAC at Talos Samar Sen, David Buckthought from ANZ Bank, Chen Arad Co-founder and COO at Solidus Labs, Co-founder and CEO of Cake DeFi Julian Hosp, Bram Cohen CEO and founder at Chia Network, CEO of Algorand Foundation Staci Warden, Chia Hock Lai President of Blockchain Association Singapore, Jason Lau COO at Okcoin and Hong Qi Yu CEO at Tokenize Xchange. To talk all thing Crypto and diving into to the Finoverse! Listen in to this recap of the day to find out some of the take aways.
Walter Jennings: Welcome to Waves in the Finoverse, we've had a very active day here at Singapore FinTech Festival. It's day three, the ultimate day and the conclusion of five days of Back to Back podcasts from Waves in the Finoverse. We began the day with Samar Sen, who is the head of Asia Pacific at Talos. And we talked about overcoming institutional barriers to investing in digital assets.
Samar Sen: If you had asked me, you know, maybe five years ago, what are the barriers for institutions? I would have said that probably there were a lot, right. So first of all, this, this whole asset class came out of the retail sector first. And normally it comes from the institutional side first when you have asset innovation in financial services. And so that's, that's a unique thing. And so even when financial institutions realised that, hey, this asset class is interesting, I want to get involved, I want to get exposure to it. There were a lot of things that they didn't have confidence in, in terms of the ecosystem being able to support their kind of flows. And so they would ask questions like "How do I make sure I'm not hacked? How do I move things on a blockchain? How do I make sure I can do my AML correctly? How do I connect to all these new liquidity venues? Is their credit or their prime brokers can I borrow and lend." All of these things kind of didn't exist five years ago. But what I would say now, and this is the really exciting, pivotal point in the industry is a lot of these problems are solved by really great infrastructure companies that are giving institutions these key pillars for custody for trading. That's the part that we operate in for AML. And regulators are legislating giving paths forward. So overall, it's very exciting. But there are a couple of things that probably still need to be solved around the risk management side, on the regulatory side as well.
Walter Jennings: Our next guest David Buckthought, he is Head of technology of international payments and digital assets at ANZ bank, one of the largest banks in Australia. And interestingly, we spent a good portion of the time talking about a new stable coin introduced by ANZ bank, the Aussie dollar stable coin.
David Buckthought: But the premise of a stable coin is it's 100% collaterally backed. And the reason why that's important for us, and important for a lot of use cases is you don't have the wild fluctuations that you can get in the existing crypto market because our Aussie dollar coin one for one. So if we minted a single Aussie dollar coin, we had one Aussie dollar sitting in a reserve account held by ANZ. So that mean, at any given time, you knew you had redemption capability for that coin, you didn't need to find a market on someone who's willing to buy it, you had $1 that was being backed by.
Walter Jennings: For our next guest Chen Arad from Solidus Labs, my colleague, Maria Vovchok stepped into the podcast booth and talk to him about their business and challenges.
Chen Arad: Whenever and wherever I talk about crypto and the market integrity and other crime and challenges the industry is facing. It's really important for me to start and premise by saying that manipulation, scams, fraud, financial meltdowns, they were not invented in crypto, okay, they exist in traditional finance, they also exist in in non financial worlds. You know, for example, when I speak to very senior compliance, anti money laundering experts, they often say that a very small percentage of dollars that are laundered or ever recognised identified, right, so there's a problem that it's a problem that is not just in crypto, it is true, that crypto has a high proportion of some of those challenges. But it's also natural for a new ecosystem, you know, where regulation is still catching up. It always does with it with new technology, that technology is still being battle tested. And at the same time, people are very excited about it. There's a lot of FOMO and Buzz FOMO fear of missing out and people want to make quick decisions. Those three factors are a triangle that creates very fertile ground for bad actors, as you say, you know, we deal with various kinds of financial crime crypto, you know, more. Second manipulation is a you know, something that is improving in the industry, but still is a big issue. That refers for example to you know, someone who, you know, would buy in, you know, would create a number of accounts and start buying and selling between them a lot to inflate the volume, let's say of a particular asset.
Now, it exists in traditional finance as well. But because of the way crypto works, because of how open it is, because you have so many different accounts and works 24/7 And also in particular, the fact that the assets are decentralised, even if they're traded, most of them are traded in centralised venues than what you're seeing, you can basically execute manipulation in much more sophisticated ways which require crypto native systems. And one of the issues with lack of nutrition, it's a very good way for bad actors to make money, which they can then launder. Now, you know,and over time, we also realise there's a really big need for our a market integrity solutions in the on chain defy space. And to be clear, you know, there are a lot of amazing companies many of them are partners that are that specialised in identify where money's coming and going and associating it with, you know, bad blacklisted wallets, etc. But we're very focused on the trading dynamics in the behaviour. The report you refer to is, you know, one of our first products that we released specifically for define on chain a, it's a threat into defy threat intel web three anti money laundering solution.
Walter Jennings: Julian Hosp, co-founder and CEO of Cake DeFi spoke about how the world's fastest growing defy platform has pivoted from their emphasis on retail with 1.3 million customers, and is now using that as a base to reach out with Cake DeFi enterprise.
Julian Hosp:We accept customers from all non sanction regions or regions that are not on the OFAC list. We accept all those customers. And so we have customers, I think, from 100 different countries, but we do focus on certain regions where we just on the one hand, either feel that customers are very attracted to DeFi or where it's just a very interesting demographic. So we do have certain campaigns and certain marketing activities in various regions. But in general, we accept everyone. We do have, of course, do full KYC checks, we follow all the money laundering, correct all the money laundering guidelines, we fraud detection, we any kind of counter terrorist financing measures that we have to do all those. And that's again, that's the CeFi part.
And I also want to mention, I mean, just always brings up a little bit of a friction with the DeFi purists who didn't say, hey, you know, you actually not doing that. But my counted that is, but in return, I have 1.3 million customers that I bring into that ecosystem that couldn't do it themselves or wouldn't want to do it themselves. They appreciate the help that we provide them, right. So I do understand if you can do it all yourself and you want to do it all yourself, please go for it. Right. It's nothing stopping you. We just want to.. We attract those customers that are absolutely fine with the additional measures and in return, get the handholding get the customer experience, get the easy access. And so that's what a win-win comes from.
Walter Jennings: Bram Cohen, the CEO and founder of Geonetwork was our next guest. Bram introduced us to the concept of proof of space time as the method of validating transactions on the Chia Network. And if you're going to write on Chia Network, you're gonna have to learn Chia Lisp, the native language of that chain.
Bram Cohen: The company was started in 2017, I'd been noodling on what the general approach should be for a while they immediate plans at the very beginning were let's make something that instead of being proof of work is based off proofs of space and time, and does something better for unchained for the unchained programming environment. And all I had to do to do this was invent proofs of space and event preserve time, figure out how to stitch them all together and figure out a new chain on chain programming environment.
Walter Jennings: We were on a bit of a roll with Blockchain because next in the booth was Staci Warden, the CEO of Algorand Foundation, Stacey joined the foundation as CEO coming from a more traditional background in finance, but really was motivated not just by the technology, but also by financial inclusivity.
Staci Warden: And I think one of the, I kind of call it a bit of a deal with the devil that made in the beginning, which was that he found that solidity just frankly, was not a good enough language. It's the kind of language that you might write Facebook in, but it's not the kind of the language our language is just called Thiel is the kind of language that you can fly aeroplanes in. It's not very it doesn't let you make mistakes. And so, as a result, we couldn't just import, you know, a couple of 1000 solidity developers from Ethereum and we had to attract developers in the beginning and this is part of the reason maybe we were off to a little bit of a slower start when we started because we had to convince developers to learn this new language. And right now, I will say my top three priorities are developers, developers and developers. And our new CTO, John Woods is determined to make developer tools his number one priority. We're going to be launching a new developer tool suite in January, or maybe February, but we think January.
He thinks about this constantly - a concierge level development related Developer Relations experience. So really, just very white glove to help developers. And they're coming. I mean, we just see so much more than anecdotal evidence in our Discord. And are you know, we just keep having to hire more Dev Rel people. So we're getting a lot of interest. And then the third piece to that is developer education. And so we are launching a whole new suite of developer education tools, and you know, revamping our whole developer education or our zero to hero experience. So, yeah, lots of lots of good stuff coming that way for sure.
Walter Jennings: When in Singapore, you've got to meet Chia Hock Lai. He is the co chair of the blockchain association of Singapore and the founding president of the FinTech association of Singapore. This is his seventh year here at Singapore FinTech Festival. And we spoke about how you build a community amongst the users of these new technologies.
Chia Hock Lai: To be frank, we only started with like, probably 50 members early last year, and today, we already crossed 200 match for corporate members and we have another 100 Plus individual members. Interestingly, is that we have six bank members. That is almost unheard of in other blockchain associations. Two of them are the crypto banks we've got the licence from Switzerland, Sygnum bank, and SEPA bank and locally we have DBS bank, BNY Mellon and Standard Chartered. In fact, we even signed an MOU with BNY Mellon to be our institutional digital asset collaborator. So we can see that definitely, at least for the association, we see institutional crypto to be a larger play panning out over the long run.
Walter Jennings: I was joined in the booth by Jason Lau, the Chief Operating Officer of Okcoin. And we talked about how they've been expanding globally. And as the Chief Operating Officer some of the challenges and things that keep him up at night.
Jason Lau: Yeah, for us, obviously, with the broader market, volumes and activity have declined and prices have declined. I think that those are very visible signs of what the crypto winters impact has been. But behind the scenes, like I mentioned earlier, when we talk to our clients, there's tremendous interest in making sure that they are well positioned and set up because again, it takes time for these institutions to navigate all the legal compliance pathways to make sure that they're ready when things turn. And so one thing that we're doing actually, is we work we're a member of this industry group called ISTA, which is a financial group of 900 plus financial companies and banks and all around the world to set standards on how financial institutions trade amongst each other. And so we're one of the few crypto companies on there. And really, what we're trying to do is explain to people how crypto work, how do we set those best standards and agreements so that when the time comes and you want to do that trading and agreements, we have those agreements already set up in place like templates already in place. So again, this this takes time, right? These are lawyers talking back and forth, figuring out the finer points of of these agreements. But look, it's this is what you do during a crypto winter, right? You take the time and see what's missing and building those pieces.
Walter Jennings: Wrapping up the day Maria Vovchok stepped back into the podcast booth and spoke with Hong Qi Yu the CEO of Tokenize Xchange.
Hong Qi Yu: Maybe I'll take a step back and talk about the licencing is for the conduct and D payments service framework. So in this framework, since even the if you want to upgrade to more fancy business, you have to apply for a licence and the ability given to those who have operated before they even think they can file for exemption. So if you follow what I'm saying you can continue run your business while you are continue, you know, talking to the regulators and eventually translate into a licencing without that you can't actually operate in Singapore.
Walter Jennings: And that wraps up day three of Singapore FinTech festival. I hope you've enjoyed these daily recaps. It's been five days of FinTech festival, first in Hong Kong, now in Singapore, and I hope you have enjoyed these summaries. Look forward to the full episodes on waves in the universe. Please do subscribe. And if you're on Apple podcasts, leave us a review, and we look forward to seeing you again in the Finoverse. I'm Walter Jennings, your host. Thank you for listening.