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DTC’s Alice Liu: “Crypto Doesn’t Have to Be Just an Investment Asset”

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Cryptocurrencies are gaining traction and interest among the public, but their use cases extend far beyond their investible properties, said Alice Liu, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Singapore-based payment solutions company Digital Treasures Center (DTC), said in a conversation with Blockhead.

She launched DTC in 2019, as she saw the value of cryptocurrencies in solving one of the key pain points merchants face – a long settlement time and cost of using the existing payment solutions.

“That got me thinking – crypto doesn’t have to be just an investment asset, there could be more use cases for it – and one of them could be to provide crypto as an additional form of payment. Both pain points can actually be resolved by using crypto as a mode of payment,” Liu said.

She noted that with crypto, the transfer would be (almost) immediate and the cost of a transaction using crypto is usually 0.5% (approx.. US$2) per transaction, which is much lower compared to the traditional card transaction fee of 2-3%.

DTC is now building the payment infrastructure and creating an enterprise-grade payment solution to empower consumers and merchants to interact seamlessly with fiat and cryptocurrency. In March, the company became one of the first few companies to receive MAS’ in-principal approval to provide digital payment tokens and receive the nod of approval to provide 6 of the 7 services under the Payment Services Act.

Having gained the in-principle approval, the company’s immediate goal is to fulfil all the requirements set out in the IPA to get full approval. DTC is also in the midst of expanding its team, now that it has the approval to expand its business and products.

Move from trad-fi

Liu previously spent 10 years in the traditional finance industry, with her last designation as the Managing Director at MingSheng Bank in Hong Kong, leading the corporate finance department.

“The buzz, innovation and exponential growth in crypto industry is something that you won’t see in the traditional finance sector or even any other sectors. And that’s what attracted me to crypto industry in the first place. I love the level of intensity, energy, and innovation that this industry brings me,” Liu said about her move into the crypto world.

“The biggest difference I see in the crypto space is how fast it has evolved. Two years ago, the market buzz was talking about crypto as an investment product and now we have slowly moved away and the buzz now evolves around Defi, NFTs, Web 3.0 and metaverse. The industry has grown in multiples and more, in such a short time span,” Liu said about the crypto landscape in Singapore.

Hurdles remain

In fact, Singapore has slightly more than 15% of the population holding crypto and in some parts of Southeast Asia that rate is even higher.

But despite the growing interest in cryptocurrencies, Liu said that hurdles remain for merchants to accepting it as an additional form of payment. “Some merchants might not have a full understanding of how crypto works and how to accept them as payment and off-ramp it to fiat, while others might be skeptical or concerned about fraud and anti-money-laundry risks,” she observed.

In her opinion, education is key to gaining the public’s trust. “I do hope that more merchants and public will have a better understanding and awareness of how crypto payment is like and that it is distinct and different from using crypto as an investment vehicle,” Liu said.

“I also hope to see more traditional finance, and payment companies coming onboard and becoming more receptive towards crypto as a form of payment and integrating it into their fiat ecosystem,” she added.