The expansion of cryptocurrency companies in Singapore is leading to more hiring across the fledging crypto sector.
Recent high profile moves include Richard Teng, who left Abu Dhabi Global Market to join fiat-to-crypto exchange Binance as its Singapore CEO. Meanwhile, Eugene Ng, the former Asia Pacific regional director of crypto-financial services firm Matrixport joined US crypto platform Gemini’s Singapore office as head of APAC business development.
Crypto hiring is partly driven by the Singapore government’s stance towards digital tokens and payment services, which is more welcoming than most other Asian financial hubs, says Sumukhi Ramnath, associate director, banking and financial services at Ambition.
A new regulation - the Payment Services Act (PSA), rolled out by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) at the start of 2020 – has certainly contributed to this. MAS has received over 480 licence applications since the PSA was enacted, about 40% of which were to provide digital payment token services, said MAS.
“Singapore has always been a very key location for crypto firms, many of whom are backed by China,” says Ramnath. Political instability in Hong Kong throughout most of 2019 and 2020 also helped to boost Singapore’s appeal as a crypto destination, she adds.
“Many foreign companies have decided to set up their overseas headquarters here because of our safety factor,” says Dennis Wang, managing director at Univerz HR Consulting. Some of these firms have also entered Singapore because of “conflicts between China and Australia, and China and the US”, he adds. This has led to a steady increase in recruitment.
“All kinds of positions at all levels are being hired for [at crypto firms], from CFOs and finance directors, to banking solutions, compliance managers and traders,” says Wang.
Ramnath says that a number of crypto firms, such as Binance, Gemini, OKEx and Bybit, were initially only looking to fill revenue-generating functions like business development and marketing, but that has expanded into legal, compliance and operations. Tech professioanls continue to be in demand.
But could Binance’s recent run-in with the Singapore central bank impact other digital asset firms’ expansion plans and bring the current hiring boom to an abrupt halt? This depends on a firm’s technology stack, the core team’s backgrounds, and who they are backed by, says Ramnath.
“As much as crypto is a growing industry, many candidates from traditional financial services are still rather sceptical due to the constant scrutiny from regulators. But if the hiring managers are from bulge bracket banks or buy side firms themselves, there’s definitely more confidence for them to take the leap of faith,” says Ramnath.
As for Binance, Wang says the recent removal of Singapore dollar trading pairs and payment options from its Singapore store will not have a huge impact on hiring plans, because it is a “global business”. “SGD transactions should also be much lower compared to other currencies,” he adds.