Late year surge from 24/7 operations sees DBS digital bourse hit S$1.1 billion FY2021 trading value

DBS Digital Bourse

Singapore’s DBS Bank-backed digital bourse DBS Digital Exchange (DDEx) recorded more than S$1.1 billion (US$819 million) trading value in its first full year of operation in 2021, fueled by a fourth quarter growth spurt following a move to round-the-clock trading.

The members-only digital asset exchange started 24/7 operations in August 2021, enabling accredited investors to trade on the bourse at any time. As a result, DDEx said Q4 trading value jumped to around S$800 million (US$596 million) – five times higher than the previous quarter.

The exchange offers cryptocurrency trading, asset tokenisation and digital custody services across four fiat currencies (Singapore dollars, US dollars, Hong Kong dollars, and Japanese Yen) and four established cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and XRP).

DDEx chief executive Lionel Lim said there was strong demand in 2021 from customers looking for a trusted gateway to access the digital asset and cryptocurrency economy.

“Our digital asset ecosystem operates under strong regulatory frameworks and in full compliance with prevailing licensing regimes, providing our customers with further assurance and confidence when they trade with us,” Lim said in a statement.

“In the coming year, we will be scaling our business to serve a larger target pool of customers, leveraging DBS’ digital asset ecosystem and deep investor base. We also aim to list more digital payment tokens (DPTs) and STOs (security token offerings) for trading.”

Lim added: “Our sustainable growth trajectory will help grow the market for digital assets in the region, which in turn contributes to deepening Singapore’s expertise and stature as a global hub for digital assets.”

Since it was set up in December 2020, DDEx has offered its services to corporate and institutional investors, accredited investors and family offices that bank with DBS.

DBS Bank chief executive Piyush Gupta said there are plans to expand digital asset trading to retail investors by the end of the year. But, first, the exchange wants to make access a lot more convenient for accredited investors, enabling them to go online for self-service rather than the current situation of having to speak to a banker to trade.

“At the same time, we’ve started doing the work on seeing how we can, in a sensible way, take it out and expand it beyond the accredited investor base,” Gupta said on the bank’s Q4 earnings call.

“That includes making sure we have appropriate thinking about suitability, we have appropriate thinking about potential for fraud, etc. Nevertheless, by the time we nail all of these things down, I think we are looking more like the end of the year before we can actually take something (for retail investors) to market.”

In October last year, DBS Vickers (DBSV), the brokerage arm of DBS Bank, became the first bank-backed brokerage to get formal approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Payment Services Act to provide digital payment token services.

As a member of DDEx, DBSV directly supports asset managers and companies to trade in digital payment tokens (DPTs) through DDEx.