Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull

Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull
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Updated 24 November 2020

Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull

Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull
  • China banned virtual currency trading in 2017, stopping a free-wheeling emerging crypto industry

SHANGHAI: As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home.

Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin’s recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high.

At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.

Beijing banned virtual currency trading in 2017, stopping a free-wheeling emerging crypto industry, and causing China’s share of global bitcoin trading to slump to less than 4 percent, from nearly 17 percent in 2017, according to CoinShare, Europe’s biggest digital asset manager.

Consequently, businessmen in China are looking elsewhere to raise crypto-focused funds, following the path of some of the world’s largest crypto trading platforms which were founded in China but moved overseas in 2017.

This month, Babel Finance, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency financial services provider founded by Chinese entrepreneur Flex Yang, applied for an asset management license in the city, Yang said.

A license in the Asian financial hub would help Babel become a “gateway” between traditional financial institutions and crypto investing, said Yang, who dreams of creating “the JPMorgan in the field of cryptocurrency.”

If Babel receives a license, Yang hopes to raise $1 billion, dwarfing existing funds in the city licensed under special rules for crypto-focused asset managers.

Gordon Chen, a former bitcoin trader in Beijing co-founded cryptocurrency asset manager GMR in Singapore last year, betting on growing demand from high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.

Chen, who currently manages over $20 million of bitcoin assets, said he chose Singapore because of its regulatory structure. “Whether it’s in the US, or Singapore, digital currency business is being increasingly regulated.”

Singapore-based Onchain Custodian, which counts Chinese conglomerate Fosun as an investor is expanding too — even in China.

The company, which safeguards digital assets for institutional clients, plans to open an office in China to initially provide consultancy services in blockchain technology

However, activities onshore are still limited by regulation.

In October, the PBOC outlawed private issuance of digital currencies, and Malta-headquartered exchange OKEX was forced to suspend cryptocurrency withdrawals for a month because an executive was assisting Chinese law enforcement with their enquiries.

GMR’s Chen lamented that China has lost its global pricing power, as well as its role as a key hub for bitcoin trading and mining: “China’s first-mover advantage has vanished.” 


Saudi telecom operators slapped with $10.67m in fines

Saudi telecom operators slapped with $10.67m in fines
Updated 16 January 2021

Saudi telecom operators slapped with $10.67m in fines

Saudi telecom operators slapped with $10.67m in fines

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) imposed more than SR40 million ($10.67 million) fines on a number of Saudi telecom operators due to committing violations to the telecommunications law.

The penalties targeted the following operators; stc, Etihad Etisalat Co. (Mobily), Mobile Telecommunication Company Saudi Arabia (Zain KSA), and Etihad Jawraa Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (Lebara Mobile KSA).

STC was fined SR31.4 million, Mobily was handed a fine of SR1.2 million, Zain KSA (SR996,000), and Lebara Mobile (SR366,000). Other operators were fined SR6.16 million.

The violations include making promotional offers in violation of CITC’s decisions, using frequencies without licenses, failing to comply with the CITC’s decisions with regard to a number of user complaints, using violating SIMs, failing to provide CITC with information required within the specified deadlines.

Other violations include causing damage to public telecommunications networks by cutting off a communication cable, sending Spam messages, and providing SMS service without obtaining a license.