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Amber Group, a crypto lender based in Singapore, is considering options for its Japan unit, including a possible sale, as part of its strategic decision to focus more on institutional rather than retail business.
In an interview on Bloomberg Television, Amber managing partner Annabelle Huang stated that Japan is a "very high-quality market, but regulations are strict." This comes as other crypto firms like Coinbase and Kraken have pulled back from the Japanese market, despite some easing of digital-asset rules.
Amber Group had acquired Japanese crypto exchange DeCurret in 2022, but is now evaluating its operations in Japan. However, Huang clarified that the firm does not have an announcement regarding a deal at the moment.
Instead, Amber Group is looking to apply for a virtual asset trading platform license in Hong Kong, given the city's push to become a digital-asset hub. Amber's backers, including Singapore's state-owned investment fund Temasek Holdings, are supporting the firm's plans.
"Favorable" market in Hong Kong
Huang noted that the regulatory scene in Hong Kong has been favorable for Amber Group, stating, "The regulatory scene in Hong Kong has been very bullish for us," and that the firm is "preparing for our license application."
Hong Kong is aiming to develop virtual-asset regulations that will encourage growth and protect investors, drawing on lessons learned from global bankruptcies like the FTX exchange. This comes as rival Singapore has been tightening crypto rules, particularly for retail investors, although Huang pointed out that Singapore is not closing the door entirely.
Amidst these developments, Amber Group underwent changes in its board of directors, including the exit of Dan Morehead, founder of Pantera Capital Management. Huang also revealed that Amber is working on a regulated, open-ended mutual fund that would accept subscriptions in major tokens like Bitcoin, Ether, and some stablecoins.
This move comes after Amber Group cut costs, made layoffs, shut down its retail customer operations, and ended a sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC in 2022, following a slump in digital assets. However, the firm completed of a US$300 million Series C funding round in December 2022.
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