Crypto lender Amber Group is considering options for its Japan unit, including a potential sale, as part of its plan to focus more on institutional clients, managing partner Annabelle Huang told Bloomberg.
Japan is a “very high-quality market, but regulations are strict,” Huang said, noting that the country is looking at revamping a number of regulations, including tax rules, which may help relax trading restrictions locally.
Huang said that they are refocusing on their institutional business and that a sale of the unit in Japan is an option, but there is no deal to announce.
However, potential investors exist, according to Huang.
Japan is still “booming,” she opined, especially in terms of various Web3 applications and blockchain gaming, so “we’re not surprised to see maybe even a Web2 player that’s going to be interested in this.”
Amber acquired the Japanese crypto exchange DeCurret in February 2022.
However, given the strict crypto regulations, many companies from this industry decided to close their Japanese doors.
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, for example, exited Japan earlier this year, citing market conditions. The move came days after the company had announced its third round of layoffs in less than a year.
Areas of Focus: Hong Kong and Singapore
The Singapore-based Amber plans to apply for a virtual asset trading platform license in Hong Kong, given that the city is actively working on becoming a digital-asset hub.
The lender is currently preparing for the license application.
The Hong Kong regulatory scene is “very bullish” for the company, Huang said.
Both Hong Kong and Singapore markets are equally important for Amber Group, and both are developing regulations friendly to crypto companies.
“Hong Kong is sort of leading the way at the moment, but I think Singapore is not exactly closing the door as well,” Huang said.
As reported, in December last year, Amber raised $300 million in a Series C round led by the US arm of blockchain-focused venture capital firm Fenbushi Capital, with participation from several crypto-native investors and family offices.
The raise was meant to benefit the customers who lost money on the platform’s products following the collapse of the FTX exchange.
Amber’s board of directors also changed after this, Huang said. As part of this change, Dan Morehead, founder of US hedge fund Pantera Capital left and was replaced with new investors from Fenbushi.
Huang added that Amber is working on a regulated, open-ended mutual fund that would accept subscriptions in major tokens like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and certain stablecoins.
Ethereum Rising but Bitcoin Still the King
Ethereum developers successfully implemented the so-called “Shapella” upgrade last Wednesday – Shapella being an amalgamation of the names of Ethereum’s consensus (Shanghai) and execution (Capella) layers.
Already a day following the upgrade, Huang said, Amber has seen an increased demand from institutional investors, now that they can stake and unstake ETH, “so I think that’s going to drive a lot of the interest in this case,” she argued.
A number of Layer 2s and different scaling and rollup solutions being brought into the market will also create more use cases for the coin.
“In our mind, there will be a lot more development within the Ethereum community,” she added.
That said, she noted, BTC still reigns, so whenever there is increased volatility or uncertainty, investors are likely to flee to Bitcoin.
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