Into the Crypto Space

by Gerry Eng
Photo courtesy of Coinhako
08 Jun 2022

Gerry Eng, Founder and CTO of Coinhako, takes us on a journey through the evolution of the crypto industry.

Being in the industry for close to a decade, I’ve heard many associating crypto with crazy price swings – drastic dips and extreme surges, and it seems to be a picture that has been painted by the public narrative. If we were to look beyond the trading of crypto-currencies, the crypto industry today has evolved, branching out and progressing beyond crypto trading, into various ecosystems collectively known as Web3.

Crypto, which is short for cryptocurrency, is a digital currency built and developed using blockchain technology. The first ‘currency’, Bitcoin, was launched in 2009. Its technological specifications were covered in a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” and was written under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. One critical defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are decentralized. That means it is not issued by any central authority, enabling it to be free of government interference or manipulation. Another key characteristic of crypto is that it uses blockchain technology where there are decentralized records of transactions across peer-to-peer networks.

With the advancement of blockchain technology, a broader term, Web3, is now often used to categorize the expansive spectrum of technological ecosystems, which includes metaverse, virtual spaces integrated using blockchain technology; non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptographic record of ownership of a unique item encoded into a blockchain; decentralized finance (Defi), peer-to-peer financial services that are permissionless; and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), organizations where members can collectively vote on decisions without a central entity.

The real-world applications are almost endless, and corporations seem to appreciate the opportunities that come with Web3. Recently, we have seen increasing adoption of crypto-related technology: Microsoft acquired gaming giant Activision Blizzard to segue into the metaverse; Facebook changed its name to Meta and announced plans to shift its focus to the metaverse; Nike and Adidas launched their respective NFT shoe collections; while Gucci partnered with NFT creators for collaborative virtual content.

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Reflecting on the increasing adoption of crypto, industry reports have shared that at the end of Q2 2021, global adoption of crypto has grown by over 2300% since Q3 2019 and over 881% in the last year. The spike was largely driven by the increased crypto adoption by institutions and corporations in developed markets. In emerging markets, crypto was adopted to preserve savings for fear of currency devaluation, carry out remittances, and conduct business transactions.

Drawing back to the early days of crypto, it was the introduction of Bitcoin that sparked renewed interest in adopting a different approach towards the traditional payment system. What if we can transact with each other without going through an intermediary system? What if we can simplify the payment verification process yet have a form of structured accountability through a ledger where all transactions are recorded? These are the reasons why crypto captured my attention back in 2013.

However, a decade ago, trying to get crypto tokens was a daunting task. Exchanges and platforms to buy the tokens were few and far between, and it was tedious and often risky to use exchanges that provided such services. Motivated by the desire to bridge the gap between users and crypto, I founded Coinhako in 2014 with my co-founder and army buddy, Yusho Liu.

Coinhako was designed to provide ease of access for users to the crypto economy. Through the provision of an on-ramp and off-ramp solution for Singapore dollars and digital assets, we managed to establish our platform as the go-to crypto platform for Singaporeans. This year, we were granted Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) official approval for a Major Payment Institution (MPI) license, allowing us to formally operate as a regulated provider of Digital Payment Token (DPT) Services under the Payment Services Act (PSA). Being granted this much-coveted license affirms the work that we have been doing, and uniquely positions us to present a tier-one regulated, secure, and technologically advanced crypto-solution platform to Singapore and the regional markets.

As detailed previously, we are seeing increasing institutional adoption of blockchain technology in the form of Web3. Critically, digital assets went through multiple boom and bust cycles, namely in 2013, 2018, and 2020. However, it rode through these cycles, demonstrating sustained power. This, coupled with the evolution of the various crypto-related ecosystems, steadily lend legitimacy to the crypto industry.

With the growing interest and adoption of crypto by institutional investors, we launched a new vertical, Coinhako Prive, in 2021 to cater to this growing demand. We established a tried and tested infrastructure, consisting of greater controls, accounting, reporting, API connectivity, and permissions management for institutions to securely trade, store, and lend digital assets.

The scalability of Coinhako has allowed us to develop new verticals, tap on the growing market, and capitalize on our expertise to serve the needs of our users. Though we are one of the longest-standing crypto platforms in the Asia Pacific region, we remain steadfast in our mission to be a reliable and safe bridge between a wide spectrum of digital assets and traditional finance.

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