The Daily: Binance to Expand in Singapore, Uphold Launches Loan Service
In today’s edition of The Daily, we look at a strategic investment that could help Binance to establish a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Singapore. We also focus on a new service that digital payments platform Uphold is launching to lend funds to its clients, as well as a cryptocurrency-backed prepaid card that’s coming to the U.S. market.
Vertex Ventures Invests in Binance
Vertex Ventures, the venture capital unit of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, has announced a strategic investment in Binance. As part of the deal, the two sides will jointly set up Binance Singapore to expand into the region. The undisclosed investment will also support the development of a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Singapore, as well as other fiat-to-crypto onramps throughout Southeast Asia.
“Vertex has an experienced team of investment experts in the region and a strong track record of supporting innovative startups that address real world, practical issues,” said Binance CFO Wei Zhou. “We look forward to building up the blockchain ecosystem and working with all stakeholders in Singapore to support continued innovation in the local fintech space.”
Binance plans to launch a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Singapore by the end of this year, CEO Changpeng Zhao said in September. The planned exchange will have to follow KYC/AML procedures, in accordance with local regulations.
Uphold Offers Earn and Borrow Products
Uphold, which acquired a regulated broker-dealer in June, has launched two new products for its clients powered by crypto-backed lending platform Cred. With Uphold Earn, clients who purchase the company’s new stablecoin, Universal Dollar, will be able to earn interest on their holdings. Uphold Borrow, meanwhile, will allow clients to secure revolving lines of credit of more than $200,000, with their digital assets to be used as collateral.
The company is promising that the stablecoin at the heart of the plan, Universal Dollar, will be backed one-to-one with the greenback, with reserves to be held at U.S.-domiciled banks that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The company has said that holders can also nominate beneficiaries who will be able to “call” the assets on prolonged account dormancy as a safely precaution.
“Uphold Earn and Borrow mark the first time that we’ve seen fiat currencies, stablecoin currencies and blockchain working together to benefit a mass consumer market,” said JP Thieriot, co-founder and CEO of Uphold. “Traditionally, the average consumer has been wary of digital currency for two reasons: volatility and a fear that, if they lose their key, they lose their money. Universal Dollar helps solve for both of these problems.”
Wirex to Enter U.S. Market
U.K.-based cryptocurrency card issuer Wirex, which recently registered as a Money Service Business in Canada, now has its eye on the U.S. market. The company has teamed up with i2c, a payments processing technology provider, to launch a prepaid card backed by multiple cryptocurrencies in the country. The card will allow U.S. consumers to convert and spend their cryptocurrencies wherever payment cards are accepted, including bricks-and-mortar retailers. The cards will also be accepted at online shops and will support fiat withdrawals from ATMs.
“Our data shows that cryptocurrency adoption is increasing in retail environments. Somewhat surprisingly, McDonald’s takes the top spot when it comes to spending on the Wirex cards amongst European users, followed by major grocery stores,” said Vroon Modgill, CEO of Wirex North America. “The relationship with i2c will enable Wirex to be the first crypto-friendly payment platform to offer this innovative service in the U.S.”
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