DBS Digital Exchange tops S$1B in 2021 trading value

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DBS Digital Exchange (DDEx), among the first bank-backed digital asset exchanges, posted more than S$1.1 billion in trading value in 2021, the bank reported Tuesday. 

The exchange, launched in December 2020, posted a pick up in volume after it went 24/7 in August, with fourth quarter accounting for S$800 million of the trading value, up five times from the third quarter, DBS said in a press release.

The members-only exchange targets corporate and institutional investors, accredited investors and family offices banking with DBS with a regulated and secure platform for digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and digital payment tokens, DBS said. The services include payments, settlements, secondary trading and institutional-grade custody, the filing said.

DBS said its digital assets under custody rose above S$800 million at the end of December, up four times from the end of September.

Lionel Lim, CEO of DDEx, said the exchange has seen “strong interest” as customers seek a secure option for accessing digital assets and cryptocurrencies. 

“Our digital asset ecosystem operates under strong regulatory frameworks and in full compliance with prevailing licensing regimes,” Lim said in the statement.

“We will be scaling our business to serve a larger target pool of customers, leveraging DBS’ digital asset ecosystem and deep investor base. We also aim to list more digital payment tokens and STOs for trading,” Lim said. “Our sustainable growth trajectory will help grow the market for digital assets in the region, which in turn contributes to deepening Singapore’s expertise and stature as a global hub for digital assets.”

DDEx’s members-only status will allow it to fly under the radar of guidelines from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in January which discouraged cryptocurrency promotion to the general public. The MAS said trading cryptocurrencies isn’t suitable for the general public as it’s highly risky and subject to sharp swings.

The city-state, while encouraging the development of digital assets, has seen cryptocurrency titan Binance pull out of Singapore, shuttering trading on 13 February. That followed Binance withdrawing its application for Singapore operations after failing to get a go-ahead for months, even as smaller exchanges were approved. 

In October, DBS Vickers, the brokerage arm of DBS Bank and a member of DDEx, received formal approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to provide payment token services as a major payment institution. That allowed DBS Vickers to directly support asset managers and companies trading in digital payment tokens via DDEx.