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[Herald Interview] Crypto platform sees future in IP content

Crypto.com hopes to launch exchange service in Korea this year

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Sept. 12, 2023 - 16:04

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Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at Crypto.com, shares the exchange operator's ambition to expand the realms of the digital asset industry, during an interview held at the firm's office in central Seoul, Sept. 6. (Crypto.com) Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at Crypto.com, shares the exchange operator's ambition to expand the realms of the digital asset industry, during an interview held at the firm's office in central Seoul, Sept. 6. (Crypto.com)

An expansion of the storytelling platform and content for cryptocurrency is the key to broadening the digital asset industry, said Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer at Singapore-based crypto trading platform Crypto.com.

“Our vision is ‘Crypto is more than trading.’ There are many use cases that can empower creators, developers and builders to reach global audiences,” Anziani said in an interview with The Korea Herald held in central Seoul, Wednesday.

As part of the effort, Crypto.com has been working on cooperating with intellectual property content to enhance its portfolio. For instance, in October, Crypto.com collaborated with production company Astory behind the hit TV series “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” rolling out the Extraordinary Whales Club non-fungible tokens, in light of how the main character in the series was fond of whales.

“We already are collaborating with a lot of local companies mostly in the NFT space and Web3 on the content side, (along with) production companies, storytellers and gaming companies,” he said.

“There is so much talent and great IP here in Korea that we are trying to help bring it to the digital world with our 80 million user base,” said Anziani, who has 17 years of experience in the finance industry including at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and PayPal.

In South Korea, Crypto.com acquired OK-Bit last year. OK-Bit is one of the 26 exchanges here that are licensed as a virtual asset service provider (VASP), which gives the authority to trade Korean won into virtual assets.

As earning a new VASP license can be time-consuming, Crypto.com was able to move past regulatory hurdles by acquiring an existing licensed exchange. The exchange, currently out of operation, plans to launch its business within this year.

Though the exact timeline has not been confirmed yet, Crypto.com perceives South Korea to be a lucrative market for the firm.

“Korea is a very sophisticated market. Most of the users are very tech savvy, and they embrace new ideas and new technology quite fast,” he said. "(Crypto) connects with the culture (and) tech-savviness, being able to adopt new trends quickly and understand what the technology represents."

Anziani assessed the Korean authorities’ legislative efforts toward crypto to be a “well-balanced approach.” The Act on the Protection of Virtual Asset Users, which aims to regulate unfair transaction activities in the market, was passed at the National Assembly on June 30. The act is set to take effect from July 2024.

The second phase of the act, currently underway, is to regulate players in the industry -- from the distribution of virtual assets to mandating disclosures.

“We appreciate the approach from the current regulators -- set up a base framework, and then progressively enhance it, making sure that consumers are protected but that innovation can still happen,” Anziani said.

“If you put too strict a framework from the onset, you cannot grow the business, and Korea cannot become a hub for the Web3 environment. It is a balanced approach.”

Despite efforts to bring the crypto industry into legal boundaries, many Korean crypto exchanges suffered deficits in the second quarter as the global crypto market remained bearish.

“When the cycle is bearish, people are less excited about the industry. But it is a good time to build. Actually, we have more time to focus on products and building services for consumers in time for when the market comes back,” Anziani said. "In our industry, (slumps) come in cycles. It is not the first one, and it is not the last."