Binance quietly launched its Singapore exchange yesterday—the first fiat-to-crypto exchange in Asia—in a move designed to give the leading operator a foothold in the region. For now, it only supports the purchase of Bitcoin with Singapore Dollars but more cryptocurrencies are to be added.
By targeting Singapore, Binance is hoping to establish itself in one of Asia’s major financial centres, which will enable it to further expand across Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole.
Binance CFO Wei Zhou—who is responsible for the exchange’s fiat onramps, spoke to Decrypt at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, about the implications:
“From a fiat on-ramp perspective, it will be a very exciting launch in terms of allowing people in Singapore to access cryptocurrency from their traditional banking channels.” he said.
Zhou explained that, with the help of funding from Vertex—the venture capital arm of the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, Binance had been working on the new onramp since Q3 last year. The new exchange follows recent fiat on-ramps built in Jersey and Uganda, which Zhou orchestrated.
“I’ve been working on expanding our fiat on-ramps on a global basis. Something we launched in January, and we’ve been continuing to refine, is our current on-ramp for British Pounds and Euros, which is the Binance Jersey fiat onramp,” he said.
Zhou said Binance is adding further improvements to the Jersey platform to improve its competitiveness. In particular, it’s adding more market makers—institutions with large funds that can be used to increase liquidity—a service that exchanges often pay for.
He added that while the exchange currently only supports Bitcoin and Ether, it may be providing support for Binance coin soon too.
When setting up new fiat onramps, the biggest obstacle to overcome is finding banking partners, Zhou explained. It’s much easier in Europe because the majority of countries use only one currency—the Euro—whereas Asian countries all use different currencies. Some of them are controlled, as in China and Korea, which causes complications.
“To be able to work in those different countries and jurisdictions, you will need local entities to work with local banking partners,” said Zhou, adding that once a regional hub is established, it’s easier to expand.
“From that perspective, the traditional banking sectors—Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore—are the core international and regional financial centres. That’s why it’s important for us to have the exchange live in Singapore, because it is a major financial centre for Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole” said Zhou.
The Singapore exchange may have been a quiet launch but, for Binance, it’s a major move.