by Vincent Fong
May 11, 2020
The cryptocurrency market sure has come a long way from its very tumultuous year of 2019 when the then Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced new regulations that meant crypto exchanges operating with prior approval from Securities Commission Malaysia may face RM 10 million in fine or face a ten-year jail sentence.
The new regulation which kicks in a day after the announcement, triggered a rush of players seeking approval from the regulator, of the over 40 exchanges that were identified by the Securities Commission to be operating at that time, 22 applied and a year later we now have 3 cryptocurrency exchanges that are permitted to operate in Malaysia.
Among the 3 exchanges that were approved, only SINEGY is a homegrown company. The company was founded in 2017 in George Town, Penang, by Kelvyn Chuah a former Wall Street trader along with his team founding team Wei Chi and Edgar who run the business development and operations respectively.
Having caught the earlier wave of cryptocurrency adopters, the company was able to transact over US$ 16 million in 6 months before they had to put trading on pause when new regulations kicked in. Spending most of their year ticking the checkboxes of the regulators, SINEGY secured blessings from Securities Commission Malaysia to operate their exchange in March.
Though fate is a tricky thing sometimes, their approval came right in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order. Cryptocurrencies saw a sharp decline which sent bitcoin prices hovering around US$ 4,000 – US$ 5,000. At the time I asked Kelvyn where he sees the prices moving towards — he didn’t seem too concerned about the temporary drop in prices, he was confident that the early adopters and bitcoin fundamentalists would drive prices up again nearer to the much anticipated halving event.
Looking at the charts — it seems Kelvyn’s statements prove to be right, several days away from the bitcoin halving the price has briefly broken the USD$10,000 barrier. Regardless of price, he sees plenty of opportunities for Malaysians to look at cryptocurrencies as an alternative stream of income, Kelyvn has observed a number of enterprising Malaysian arbitrage traders who are taking advantage of the price discrepancies between exchanges.
Despite the fact that they had to effectively put their business on pause for nearly a year to comply with new regulations, Wei Chi lauded the regulator for putting in place a framework to protect investors. He commented that given Malaysia’s position as an emerging economy, the priority should first and foremost be investors protection and not short term gains.
Edgar echoes Wei Chi’s view as well, he seemed bullish about the upcoming IEO regulations by the Securities Commission which was announced in January this year. The new guideline permits for digital token offerings to be carried out by a recognised platform operator. This move allows for enterprises a new method of fundraising and investors a new asset class to consider.
In the face of very challenging market conditions brought on by the pandemic, Kelvyn remained optimistic about the prospects for SINEGY. With all the right regulations mostly in place he said his team is shifting gears to now ramp up awareness and generate demand in Malaysia. Kelyvn also hinted at interests in being an IEO platform to facilitate fundraising exercise and his openness to team up with local players.
Ultimately, his eyes are set on being the leading digital asset exchange in Malaysia, he estimates that only 1% of Malaysians are exposed to digital assets and that in a few years time we will have a robust digital assets marketing comprising of institutional and retail investors.
To learn more about SINEGY and the work they do do check out their site at www.sinegy.com
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