Metaco, a provider of digital asset infrastructure, announced today the opening of an Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, citing demand for digital assets in the city and the region as a whole.
Metaco, based in Switzerland, has been involved in digital bond issuance in Europe and Switzerland over the last year. Simultaneously, Singapore has been at the forefront of digital bond issuance, with Temasek portfolio company Azalea Investment Management issuing its latest Temasek private-equity-backed bonds, Astrea VI, in tokenized format on the blockchain, and local digital asset exchange iSTOX issuing tokenized bonds as well.
“Choosing Singapore as the location for our APAC base made the most sense for our business and strategic goals. “Singapore is one of the jurisdictions where we are seeing the highest levels of demand for digital asset software and infrastructure by financial institutions, driven in part by the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) progressive regulatory framework towards digital assets,” Andre Israel, Chief Operating Officer at Metaco, told ULTCOIN365 in an email.
Israel also stated that the company chose Singapore for its regional headquarters due to the country’s talent pool and prior experience with digital assets.
DBS, which is partially owned by the Singaporean government, is perhaps the most notable example of institutional acceptance of digital assets in Singapore. Earlier this year, the bank announced the establishment of a Security Token Offering (STO) issuance desk. During its most recent earnings announcement, the bank stated that it has more than $100 million in digital assets under custody through its institutional-focused digital assets exchange, and that it will soon begin to offer digital products through its traditional brokerage DBS Vickers.
In an earlier interview with ULTCOIN365 , Seamus Donoghue, Vice President of Metaco, referred to Ethereum as the new “rails for the new capital markets,” believing it will play a key role in the future issuance of government debt — a “growth industry,” according to Donoghue.
Hong Kong vs. Singapore
While Singapore used to compete with Hong Kong as a digital asset hub, the two are increasingly diverging, with Singapore taking the lead due to its favorable regulatory environment. ULTCOIN365 has spoken with industry stakeholders who have expressed concern about Hong Kong’s digital asset double standard, which includes layers of bureaucracy and strict anti-money laundering laws that prevent most firms from even opening a bank account.
“Banking still views cryptocurrency as something they don’t want to touch in Hong Kong due to money laundering concerns,” Vincent Chok, CEO of First Digital Trust, a registered public trust company based in Hong Kong, told ULTCOIN365 in an earlier interview. “There is a clear bias at work.”
It has also been claimed that Hong Kong’s lack of proper digital asset custodian rules — to date, the territory has only issued guidance rather than a comprehensive legal framework like Singapore — is impeding the territory’s growth as a digital assets superpower.
However, Metaco’s Israel stated that Hong Kong remains a key global financial center and that it is on the company’s “roadmap” as it “continues to grow at a significant pace.” It simply will not be its Asia-Pacific headquarters.