Recently, we sat down at a certain Starbucks to meet and talk about what’s brewing in one of our very own homegrown companies in Singapore, Coinhako. Amidst the dip in the price of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, companies like Coinhako continue to tirelessly innovate like it’s business as usual. Scroll on to find out what they’ve been up to!
From left: Jonathan from MediumFork, Linh from Coinhako, Jun Meng from MediumFork, Alrick from Coinhako
First of all, what does Coinhako do and what is your mission?
Coinhako is a leading cryptocurrency wallet service from Singapore.
We were founded in 2014 and initially based in the Silicon Valley, in the US and have grown to become one of Singapore’s leading cryptocurrency wallet services. Coinhako was established by blockchain industry experts Yusho Liu and Gerry Eng - our CEO and CTO respectively - with the aim to improve the access of digital currencies by mainstream consumers in Singapore and the greater Asia-Pacific.
Currently, renowned cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum are supported on our platform, Coinhako.com.
Our services are extended to Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, - where we are headquartered - Malaysia and more recently Indonesia. Users can buy, sell, send and receive Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ethereum (ETH) with local currencies such as Singapore Dollars (SGD), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) and Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Our mission is to create an extensive network across Asian countries, providing liquidity and easy access to cryptocurrencies through products at the forefront of financial innovation. We are focused on being a key contributor to the development of blockchain-based financial systems through our influence as a market leader in Asia.
We work on principles of ease of use and ease of understanding as we strive to make blockchain as easy as possible for everyone.
Security is also a key fundamental of which the company was built upon. In addition to simple features, competitive prices and low fees, we constantly work to provide people with a highly secure way of storing cryptocurrencies. Funds in Coinhako wallets are always secured in accordance with industry best practices. Our ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) practices also consists of detailed and systematic evaluation of our security systems as we look to further combat all issues that might pose a threat to our users and their funds.
How does Coinhako differentiate from its competitors?
We’re glad you asked. 3 things come to mind: Local currencies, convenience, and we push further to build solutions around blockchain technology.
We are committed to providing access to users within our targeted regions. While most leading cryptocurrency exchanges tend to lean towards ‘cryptocurrency-friendlier’ currencies such as USD and EUR, we aim to provide liquidity through local currencies, despite less favourable conditions at present. This is evident with our more localized, MYR, SGD and IDR cryptocurrency pairings to suit our current markets of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Users can simply make inter-bank transfers or international telegraphic transfers for all supported currencies. For SGD, users also have the option to link an Xfers mobile wallet to their Coinhako wallet so they can quickly and transfer SGD in a cost-effective manner.
Coinhako is an all-in-one cryptocurrency service provider, looking to provide solutions addressing the shortcomings of one of the most dynamic pieces of innovation in the last decade. We are committed to innovation that will help spearhead the industry into a more sustainable and accountable one,. We aim to achieve this through new product launches, business development and partnerships in the coming months to help smoothen the conversion process for local markets.
What is Coinhako’s view of its market position with respect to other exchanges (e.g. Binance, Bitfinex) in other countries that provide fiat gateways on top of coin trading?
Our target markets are mostly centred around Southeast Asia.
Regionally, Coinhako is one of the leading cryptocurrency wallet services by trade volume. In 2017 alone, we had processed more than SGD 500 million worth of cryptocurrency transactions and continue to process millions of SGD worth of transactions per month - even through the down market of H1 2018.
As we had shared, we are one of the few cryptocurrency services that continue to commit ourselves to local currencies while many tend to turn towards ‘cryptocurrency friendlier’ currencies such as USD. In the grand scheme of things, this puts us in a position as a frontrunner for providing local currency pairings with cryptocurrencies.
As for listings, we are more or less on par with most fiat gateway exchanges with our listing of Bitcoin Cash in April 2018. Users can buy, sell, send and receive up to 3 renowned cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum) with SGD, MYR and IDR pairings on our platform. Little as it may seem, dealing with fiat currencies subject companies to more regulatory scrutiny and more due diligence needs to be done to qualify a cryptocurrency for listing on a fiat gateway exchange such as Coinhako.
There has been some recent hacks of exchanges, what are your priorities relating to that?
Let us not forget that such risks are not isolated to the cryptocurrency community only. These are risks that are also synonymous with digital banking and the finance sector. Banks are constantly faced with threats from hackers and online banking attacks are fairly common these days. Credit card fraud is also a staggering U$190 billion market.
The lack of regulatory frameworks to ensure the soundness of processes thus far, has left many newer cryptocurrency exchanges vulnerable to hacks. Without clear industry guidelines to ensure best practices, many cryptocurrency exchanges will continue to be a target of such attacks.
At Coinhako, we have gathered a team of highly-experienced individuals to ensure the security of our systems. We also run periodic security audits by external vendors to ensure there is no single point of failure and that our processes are up to date with industry best practices. For example, 2 factor-authentication (2FA) via an additional device is mandatory for all users and staff and we hold over 90% of our funds in cold storage (an offline wallet). You will find these processes to be common practice across the more established cryptocurrency service providers.
These are standards that we will continue to uphold within the company and will continue to seek improvements to the security of our users and their funds.
What is your view of decentralised exchanges and its impact on Coinhako?
Decentralized and centralized exchanges will have to co-exist. While decentralized exchanges may appeal to those looking to make transactions with more privacy or without a third-party intermediary, there are merits to centralized exchanges too. Centralized exchanges are currently known to process transactions much more quickly and would be of great help for individuals that are looking to take their first steps into the cryptocurrency space. This is similar to how cryptocurrencies and Fintech will provide us with an alternative financial market in the future rather than outrightly eliminate financial incumbents.
In fact, such a correlation is healthy for the market and will only help to improve blockchain services in the future.
Coinhako allows users to trade in SGD, MYR, and IDR. What is the idea behind supporting so many currencies? What should a buyer consider when deciding which currency to trade in?
Supporting local currencies is aligned with our mission statement as we seek to create an extensive network across Asian countries, providing liquidity and easy access to cryptocurrencies through services at the forefront of financial innovation.
Convenience and time is needed for users that are looking to time their purchases more accurately amid the price volatility. Even if price volatility is not a concern, convenience (ie. not having to convert to a foreign currency) and ease of use should be the most important factors.
Is Coinhako planning to support trading of more cryptocurrencies/ digital tokens? Is there an internal criteria?
Yes, we are working on adding more cryptocurrencies as part of our 2018 company goals. We have a standard set of procedures before deciding to list a cryptocurrency on our platform:
In-depth analysis of the cryptocurrency’s Whitepaper
Evaluation of the cryptocurrency’s transition process to their main net
Evaluation of their token contract for soundness and usability
Ensuring a fit with our system to execute their smart contracts
Run a check on the team
Ensure that the cryptocurrency does not infringe any regulatory policies of markets that we are present in (ie. Trading of tokens that might constitute as securities in Singapore)
The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently released a consultation paper on recognised market operators. Any thoughts on the proposals?
Hints of regulatory frameworks - such as the Recognized Market Operators - for the use of cryptocurrencies in Singapore recently, signals regulators acknowledging its growing importance in the city-state. We believe the right regulations and support from government agencies will help to weed out bad actors and help legitimize digital currencies for the benefit of all stakeholders within the global financial ecosystem. No industry is sustainable without some form of regulation afterall.
The question now is, how do they balance having to uphold financial innovation within Singapore, while having to safeguard consumer usage and needing to consider the blowback they might be faced with from incumbents of the finance sectors?
Does Coinhako intend to expand its service regionally? Is there any particular roles/ functions that it is looking to strengthen or hire?
Yes, our target markets largely consist of Southeast Asian countries and we will be looking to further providing liquidity and access to cryptocurrencies across much of Greater Asia.
We are also looking to expand and diversify our team.In fact, we are seeing a shift in top talent favouring careers in innovative Fintech companies over more traditional financial institutions. The ‘most centralised institution in history’ is losing control over the financial system they created and to date, banks have lost about USD 250 million in trading volume to these platforms.
Last question, what happened recently and what’s coming up next for Coinhako?
We are also very glad to share about our latest addition of cryptocurrency pairings with Indonesia Rupiah (IDR). You can now buy Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ethereum (ETH) with our IDR/BTC, IDR/BCH and IDR/ETH pairings.BTC, BCH and ETH pairings with Vietnamese Dong (VND) and other Southeast Asian currencies will be coming soon too!
In addition to regional expansions, we will also be releasing new cryptocurrency products and services and many more cryptocurrencies are coming to our platform. Stay tuned to our Facebook, Linkedin, Blog or any other social media channels for our latest updates!