HONG KONG, July 30 (Reuters) – Nasdaq-hopeful Diginex launched a new cryptocurrency exchange focused on derivative products in Singapore on Thursday, where it has applied for a licence.
The new exchange, EQUOS.io, will be based Singapore rather than Hong Kong, from where Diginex operates much of its other business.
Diginex Chief Executive Richard Byworth said the Southeast Asian city-state’s regulatory environment made it a more suitable location for the exchange than Hong Kong.
Authorities globally are grappling with whether and how to regulate cryptocurrency companies, some of which say they wish to be regulated to show their legitimacy to cryptocurrency investors.
“Singapore were a bit more flexible in the way that they were thinking about things,” Byworth told Reuters.
Hong Kong’s opt-in licencing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges, launched last year, does not allow the trade of derivatives products, and its top markets regulator said cryptocurrency futures contracts may be illegal.
The new exchange will provide cryptocurrency spot trading as well as more complex products.
“On the more interesting edge of (cryptocurrency)derivatives, we have seen a more limited product set come to market because we are constrained by the infrastructure,” said Byworth, adding that he hoped the new exchange would plug these infrastructure gaps.
In contrast to Hong Kong, Singapore’s new payments rules require cryptocurrency companies operating in the city to be licenced, but it is less prescriptive about their operating model.
Over 150 cryptocurrency companies that were previously operating in Singapore, including Diginex, have had to apply for licences by 28 July.
Diginex is in the process of listing on the Nasdaq through a $300 million reverse merger with special acquisition vehicle 8i Enterprises.
The deal has already received SEC approval. Byworth said the effective listing date should be in mid- to late September.
Coinbase, operator of one of the world’s most established cryptocurrency exchanges, is considering a direct U.S. listing later this year or early next year, Reuters reported this month. (Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Sam Holmes)