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Crypto lender Amber mulls potential sale of Japan subsidiary

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 2 min read
Crypto lender Amber mulls potential sale of Japan subsidiary
Japan is a “very high-quality market, but regulations are strict," says Amber's managing partner Annabelle Huang. Photo: Bloomberg
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Crypto lender Amber Group is weighing options for its Japan unit, including a possible sale, and plans to apply for a Hong Kong license following the city’s pivot toward creating a digital-asset hub.

The evaluation of the Japan operation is part of a strategic decision to focus more on institutional rather than retail business, Amber’s Managing Partner Annabelle Huang said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Friday.

Japan is a “very high-quality market, but regulations are strict,” Huang said, adding the firm doesn’t have an announcement at the moment about a deal.

Singapore-based Amber acquired Japanese crypto exchange DeCurret Inc. in 2022. While Japan has eased some digital-asset rules, other firms like Coinbase Global Inc. and Kraken have already pulled back from the East Asian nation.

Amber, whose backers include Temasek Holdings Pte, intends to apply for a virtual asset trading platform license in Hong Kong given the city’s push to open up to crypto companies.

“The regulatory scene in Hong Kong has been very bullish for us,” she said, adding that Amber is “preparing for our license application.”

See also: Bitcoin developers are touting ‘programmability’ as the catalyst for the next rally

Hong Kong, Singapore

Hong Kong is aiming to develop virtual-asset regulations that will encourage growth and protect investors. The city is seeking to learn lessons from global bankruptcies like the FTX exchange while taking advantage of a rebound in crypto markets from a US$2 trillion ($2.66 trillion) rout.

Rival Singapore has moved toward tightening crypto rules, particularly for retail investors. “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.

See also: Online casino guide platform finds Singapore ninth-most 'crypto-friendly' country globally

Singapore-based Amber last year said it had raised US$300 million, mainly for customers who lost money on the platform’s products due to FTX’s implosion. The Series C round was led by venture capital firm Fenbushi Capital US.

Board Changes

Amber’s board of directors subsequently changed, Huang said, including the exit of Dan Morehead, founder of Pantera Capital Management LP.

She added Amber is working on a regulated, open-ended mutual fund that would accept subscriptions in major tokens like Bitcoin, Ether and some stablecoins.

The crypto lender in 2022 cut costs, made layoffs, shut down its retail customer operations and ended a sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC amid a slump in digital assets.

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