- Cyptocurrency exchange is operating in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
- Aims to improve public understanding of cryptocurrency by working with regulators
Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2020-2021 (Vol 4), a special biennial print publication released in July 2020. The digital copy can be downloaded from the sidebar link.
The following article is an expanded version of the print edition.
IT startup luminaries are often lauded for being ahead of the curve, to identify nascent trends before they become mainstream. Hong Qi Yu learned about Bitcoin way back in 2014, and quickly came to a conclusion: “I thought it was a scam!”
Now, of course, Hong is the CEO, CTO and founder of Tokenize, a cryptocurrencies exchange startup that operates in four countries. So clearly he changed his mind along the way.
In fact, Hong had a diverse work history before finally settling on financial markets and instruments, although he had always been in a field related to technology.
“I started as a management associate in a consulting company,” he explained. “I was very fortunate and was able to rotate to different roles,” he said, having had jobs to do with cybersecurity, and systems engineering for banks.
Eventually, bouyed by his experience in the world of finance, Hong decided to to to manage a portfolio on his own, handling assets. “I made a full-time living through trading.”
In the meantime, he still worked as a programmer for a fintech company. “Only when I become a coder then was I able to understand the underlying technology behind Bitcoin,” he recalled.
“That’s when I got more serious,” he said, “and I became very passionate about this.”
Hong was keen to flex his muscles and transfer what he knew about asset management to crypto currency, but he then realised he lacked the tools to do so. In particular, although there were local platforms to purchase crypto currency, he couldn’t do complex orders, like placing a price.
“I have to sit there, do nothing and wait until the prices (reach the point I want). And then I press a button,” he said. “It’s very tedious.”
His experience compared poorly to similar platforms in Japan and the US. “So, that inspired me, why not start something like this?” he asked. “I think I can do something better.”
“We never expected Malaysia could be so fast in regulations!”
That something better is Tokenise, whose mission is to make crypto currencies as accessible as possible to the general public. Given that the curent accessibility of the market to cryptocurrency is less than 2%, Hong feels that it’s important to bring the right tool to the market, caling it “the only way to increase awareness and bring this ecosystem to the next level”.
Originally launched in Singapore, Hong, a Malaysian, was keen to quickly broaden the company’s reach, given Singapore’s relatively small market. One of the first places…