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Singapore’s OCBC studying crypto exchange, CEO Wong says

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Singapore’s OCBC studying crypto exchange, CEO Helen Wong says. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Feline Lim)
Singapore’s OCBC studying crypto exchange, CEO Helen Wong says. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Feline Lim)

By Krystal Chia, Joyce Koh and Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

(Bloomberg) — Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. is considering whether to set up a crypto exchange as Southeast Asia’s second-largest lender seeks to respond to customer needs, Chief Executive Officer Helen Wong said.

“We are looking at it and seriously there are some work being done in the bank,” Wong told Haslinda Amin in a Bloomberg Television interview Friday, when asked whether the bank would consider offering crypto services as some of its competitors are doing.

Wong said it’s worth studying crypto technology due to its potential to boost efficiency, although the bank won’t rush into the sector just because of its popularity.

“If you say we are looking at it, it is very much in addressing customer needs, but in a safe manner,” Wong said. “We want to help them to recognise the investment and how to handle it.”

Singapore is trying to establish itself as a global crypto hub, attracting many new firms even while the city-state frowns upon cryptocurrencies as investments for retail traders.

OCBC’s rival DBS Group Holdings Ltd. has said it plans to expand its digital exchange — which includes trading services for cryptocurrencies — to retail individuals next year. Globally, a rising number of banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have started offering crypto-futures trading.

Wong highlighted concerns surrounding the digital assets, including the safety of transactions given the anonymous nature of the sector. She prefers to use the term “crypto assets” instead of cryptocurrencies as they aren’t legal tender, she said.

OCBC is “not going to get into it just because it is hot or there is a demand from people,” Wong said in a separate interview. “It is not conservatism, it is about responsibility. Banks have a responsibility, fiduciary duty to people.”

The New Economy Forum is being organised by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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