Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull

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Updated 24 November 2020

Chinese fund managers seek to ride bitcoin bull

  • China banned virtual currency trading in 2017, stopping a free-wheeling emerging crypto industry

SHANGHAI: As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home.

Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin’s recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high.

At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.

Beijing banned virtual currency trading in 2017, stopping a free-wheeling emerging crypto industry, and causing China’s share of global bitcoin trading to slump to less than 4 percent, from nearly 17 percent in 2017, according to CoinShare, Europe’s biggest digital asset manager.

Consequently, businessmen in China are looking elsewhere to raise crypto-focused funds, following the path of some of the world’s largest crypto trading platforms which were founded in China but moved overseas in 2017.

This month, Babel Finance, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency financial services provider founded by Chinese entrepreneur Flex Yang, applied for an asset management license in the city, Yang said.

A license in the Asian financial hub would help Babel become a “gateway” between traditional financial institutions and crypto investing, said Yang, who dreams of creating “the JPMorgan in the field of cryptocurrency.”

If Babel receives a license, Yang hopes to raise $1 billion, dwarfing existing funds in the city licensed under special rules for crypto-focused asset managers.

Gordon Chen, a former bitcoin trader in Beijing co-founded cryptocurrency asset manager GMR in Singapore last year, betting on growing demand from high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.

Chen, who currently manages over $20 million of bitcoin assets, said he chose Singapore because of its regulatory structure. “Whether it’s in the US, or Singapore, digital currency business is being increasingly regulated.”

Singapore-based Onchain Custodian, which counts Chinese conglomerate Fosun as an investor is expanding too — even in China.

The company, which safeguards digital assets for institutional clients, plans to open an office in China to initially provide consultancy services in blockchain technology

However, activities onshore are still limited by regulation.

In October, the PBOC outlawed private issuance of digital currencies, and Malta-headquartered exchange OKEX was forced to suspend cryptocurrency withdrawals for a month because an executive was assisting Chinese law enforcement with their enquiries.

GMR’s Chen lamented that China has lost its global pricing power, as well as its role as a key hub for bitcoin trading and mining: “China’s first-mover advantage has vanished.” 


Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

Updated 23 January 2021

Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

  • Al-Anani said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic
  • Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved

CAIRO: As of December, Egypt received 1.4 million tourists since the resumption of the tourism activities at the beginning of July, bringing the total number of tourists during 2020 to 3.7 million.
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani revealed this during a meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, to review the ministry’s plans to combat the coronavirus.
He said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic.
The minister also reviewed the domestic tourism initiative Winter in Egypt and the discounted prices in this initiative.
Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved.
The minister also reviewed the follow-up on the Cabinet’s decisions to support the tourism sector.
The minister discussed the support offered to the tourism sector, including the procedures to obtain credit facilities and to extend support though the Ministry of Social Solidarity to tourist guides until the end of December 2020.
On Friday, the Egyptian government cut the price of fuel for the aviation sector to support the tourism sector and stimulate aviation in Egypt. According to a statement, the reduction of 15 cents per gallon will continue until the end of this year.
Tourism revenues in Egypt have fallen by more than 69 percent over the past year, from $13.03 billion in 2019 to $4 billion in 2020, Al-Anani said.