Eric Barbier, founder and CEO, TripleA, speaks with Emmanuel Daniel, founder, about receiving the first crypto payments licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) under the new Payment Services Act.
Eric Barbier, founder and CEO, TripleA, discussed the various reasons and ways his company secured the first crypto payments licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) under the new payment services act in the country. He also shared his extensive experience in the financial services industry, delving into the recent hearing on cryptocurrencies in the U.S. Congress and giving his two cents on the future of payments as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
During the interview, the two industry experts also analysed the growth opportunity and the development of infrastructure and cryptocurrency from the emerging countries that are embracing them more inclusively than the more developed economies.
The following key points were discussed:
Below is the edited transcript:
Eric Barbier (EB): The problem is MAS will not tell you why you are given a licence or not. I see two reasons for us being among the first. The first reason is that we have a business model. The second thing is, I believe there is a bit of credibility coming from us.
Emmanuel Daniel (ED): This morning I had a very interesting conversation with Eric Barbier, the founder of TripleA. TripleA and Eric Barbier are very interesting to me for two very important reasons. Firstly, it was the first company that secured a crypto payments licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the new payment services act in Singapore. And secondly, I wanted to learn from someone like Eric with his extensive experience in payments over several generations of the industry, from the days of the microchip to the time when payments were on a telco airtime to what the banks were doing, and now into crypto. Someone like Eric has an instinct for this industry that the rest of us can draw from. So, let's get right into the conversation.
ED: Eric Barbier, good morning to you. Where are you today?
EB: Good morning, I'm in Singapore.
ED: Singapore. That's wonderful. I’m in Beijing. Both of us woke up this morning after the congressional hearing in the US on cryptocurrencies and how to regulate that. There are many things that I want to be able to speak to you with today, of course, about the exciting news about TripleA, getting a crypto payments licence in Singapore. But also, perhaps more importantly, I want to draw from you, Eric, because your own pedigree, your experience as a payments man, as a telco man, as a crypto man, there’s a lot to draw from what you see. When all of the news was being put out on the congressional hearing, this is the first time the United States Congress has started to wrap its mind around how to legislate, cryptocurrencies, and even how to define it. What did you make of it?
Regulation at a federal level would be a big game changer
EB: So, what's great is that for the first time, you know, Congress is really taking it seriously. And I think they're saying that there's so much traction on the crypto side, that it's really now the right time to find the right way to, to regulate that. And so that's, to me, that's great news. Because, so far, there were at least no federal regulation, and just a couple of states having specific regulation, and which was not really complete, and so on. There's the famous bit licence in New York, which is a bit complex, and not ideal. And then for most of the states, there is nothing, so having regulation at federal level would be a big game changer, in my opinion for crypto. I'm making the analogy to Singapore. Singapore has been really leading the way in terms of developed country in terms of having proper regulation framework for crypto, and that’s great. It's something which would move into the US, and I think Europe as well is working on it.
ED: What's interesting about Singapore is that what seems to be regulation appears to be a tentative framework, waiting for leadership from the US. One of the interesting parts of the discussion in the US, was the definition of crypto. Is that a security, an asset, or a currency? How would you characterize crypto?
EB: For me, it's obvious. It's a currency. At this stage, the primary use case of crypto is to enable payment transactions. So it is, in my opinion, a currency.
ED: You know that just because you are a payments man yourself. You built payment gateways of many kinds before in the past. One other comment that came out very strongly was that the USD stablecoin is the US CBDCs, central bank digital currency. As it were, what are your thoughts on that? The idea that a stablecoin is a CBDC.
EB: If a stablecoin is issued by a regulated entity in the US, it's as good as having a CBDC. And frankly, I don't believe that central banks are going to really issue digital currency, at least I mean, the Federal Reserve or the central bank. There are already stablecoins, which are better regulated.
ED: The US dollar is the currency in circulation worldwide. It's created a whole structure of global economy around itself. Creating the digital version of that is to continue the dominance of the dollar and the ability of the US government to continue issuing debt. Is that something that can happen to give multiple currencies the ability to play in the digital space?
EB: Yeah, that was exactly my point. If you look at the stablecoin market today, the dominance of the USD is probably like, 99%, while in the real world, euro has per year, 10 to 20% market share in international trade. So, clearly, there's a mismatch misalignment here. For me, that's very risky to the euro.
ED: In fact, there is an attempt at creating a Singapore stablecoin. What went wrong in that attempt?
EB: I'm not saying things are not working and it will take time. I think we haven't seen the over use case for it. The Singapore dollar is currently not a huge currency which is used for trading globally, but my understanding from MAS and other players in the market is really to provide, the right ecosystem. One of the things which is missing is like having merchants to accept cryptocurrency and be in touch with stablecoins. The thing is, why would I use it if I cannot spend it? That's part of what TripleA is trying to do. It’s to enable merchants’ businesses to accept crypto payments.
Compliance is the most important principle of payment
ED: That brings me to you as an entrepreneur, as someone who is highly experienced in all forms of payment platforms, as a telco man, and also at the banking end. In terms of the first principles of payments that is applicable both to crypto as well as to traditional payments, what would you define as being the most important operating principle?
EB: Compliance with the law. It being under regulation and being able to know what the underlying transaction is, having proper KYC on both ends of the system. That has been my approach, whether in TripleA or in TransferTo in the past. It’s really to make sure that we have the right framework first in order to securely and in a compliant manner be able to transfer. Compared to lending from business in payment, your liability is unlimited. One single transaction from a bad actor, and your whole business is at risk.
ED: You've identified the KYC part, the compliance part, the regulated part of payments. That's the part that you need to get right in order to succeed in any form of payments. But there's the other side of it, which is the technology. Isn't payment technology basically a transfer of information from one end to the other?
EB: On paper? Yes. If you look at this, at the end of the day, it is just plumbing between banks, financial institutions, and everything. One of the issues, for instance, of cryptocurrency, and that's one of the issues we're solving is like, it is not fully real time. So, when you're buying a pair of shoes online, you can't wait like 10 to 20 minutes for the payment to complete. You're expecting a near instant user experience. So, that's one of the things we've been doing by deeply integrating into the blockchain, so that we're able to tell the merchant in a couple of seconds that the payment is good, and that he can ship the goods or services. So, that's an example where technology is absolutely key. All those transactional systems have to support tons of transaction happening. To give you an example, we are processing payments as low as $1, for instance, in El Salvador, as we are, you know, we're working with Digicel, which is the mobile operator in El Salvador. The people are paying $1 or even less to buy their prepaid mobile phone. While on the other hand, we're processing transaction which may be $5,000 from an accounting firm in Dubai, which will be paid in USDT for instance.
ED: I'm constructing this conversation very carefully because I want to take the first few principles on payments and then apply to your business in crypto payments. Now, just taking the technology side one step further, you are the founder of TransferTo, right? Here's another very interesting point, which is that one of the problems that crypto players had in payments was that they couldn't exchange their fiat currencies into crypto until recently, because, many countries and banks were afraid, and now banks are all getting into the space. And so even as you got the first licence in Singapore, the rules are changing very rapidly, the rules of the game, the number of players entering and so on. So, when you think about TransferTo, it’s a cross-border, multi-currency payment platform. How does that compare to what the respective countries are doing in integrating— In Singapore, you have PayNow integrating with Thailand and so on. Are these complementary? Are these competitive?
Most of the mobile wallets are in emerging markets
EB: TransferTo is still doing very well, it's now being rebranded as Thunes. When I started the company back then, the idea was really to use mobile phone as the way to send money and, really, my focus was really on the emerging market. So TransferTo is today the largest network connected to mobile wallet. And most of the mobile wallets tend to be in more of an emerging market, like Paytm in India, bKash in Bangladesh, and M-PESA in Kenya. So, the goal of Thunes is to interconnect financial institutions, usually from the developed country, i.e., for instance, PayPal, and helping them to send or receive money from mobile wallets in emerging countries. One of the most iconic deals that Thunes is operating is the interconnection between PayPal, and M-PESA. So, that enabled millions of Kenyans, for instance, to be able to purchase off the internet from tens of millions of merchants from Paypal. It's true that this can become a competition, but you know, it's going to take a long time to happen, and probably not going to happen globally.
ED: Right. But the interesting thing about Thunes is that it's cross-border. It's not platform dependent. And on both sides of the transaction, you do not need to have a bank in there.
EB: At the end of the day, you still need to set up for banks. In Singapore, the Singtel Dash is one of the clients. For instance, a Filipino working in Singapore will be able to put money into a Singtel Dash account, and then in real time, transfer the money to a GCash mobile wallet.
ED: In the Philippines.
EB: And this is real time and it's wallet-to-wallet. The end user doesn’t need to hold a formal bank account, but it's essentially e-money.
ED: I'm asking you that question because there are regulators who are taking this bank-centric approach where on both sides of a transaction, there has to be a bank. They actually mandate that rather than leave it open-ended because the technology allows for wallet-to-wallet transfers. As a telco man, what could telcos be doing to be important players in the payment space now that regulators are trying to push it back to become more bank- centric?
EB: So, I think the whole idea for a telco to become a digital bank is a great idea. There are a lot of similarities between the two businesses. Highly transactional trust is key, and you need to have scale, so a very large user base. So, I was talking about Singtel, which had the Dash e-wallet, which is doing extremely well for remittances. They got the digital bank licence issued in Singapore together with Grab. I can give you another example. I'm sitting on the board of STC Pay in Saudi Arabia, which is the largest mobile operator there. Once again, they started with a new wallet, and they are now upgrading to a full bank licence and using again, the use case of remittances because Saudi Arabia is a very big importer of workforce. So, there's a huge remittance corridor to South Asia in particular. They have millions of users in the country. In emerging markets like Africa, most of the wallets like M-PESA, Orange Money, MTN Money are all driven by a telco. In some countries where they are regulated, you don't want the telco to go into that space but actually, once they're allowed to do that, they're doing an amazing job. They really have the right DNA and the right cost structure to operate that.
ED: That's interesting that you say that, because I've been watching how telcos tried to get into payments. A part of it is regulation. A part of it is that payments and finance is not native to the telcos. A part of it is that telcos have not used the data that they are privy to the transaction data in the best way possible.
EB: I can only think of one, but Orange Bank in France has not been a success. But any other failure?
ED: Well, not to failure, but it could have been more successful than it was. Actually, I'm also thinking of Singtel Dash, for example, right?
EB: Singtel Dash is a success. It's very successful on the remittance space. It's true, but for more
ED: generic domestic use, yeah.
COVID-19 has been a huge driver of wallets
EB: But remember, in Singapore, it's very difficult to operate a wallet. People are so highly banked. Everybody has probably like four or five cards in their wallets and so on. So, having a wallet is really not a big incentive for people to switch payment behaviour. And as we know, it takes a while for people to change behaviour. COVID has been an amazing accelerator, I think, for all our wallets. So, whether it's in Saudi Arabia, in Singapore or in Africa, COVID has been a huge driver of all those wallets.
ED: The ability of telcos to use the data that they get into, what's the problem at the back end?
EB: I think it's not their fault because the banking regulator is often asking the telco to raise a Chinese wall between the telco business and the bank business. It's not that they don't know how to do it. It's more like they're not allowed to do it.
ED: Right. You know, what's interesting is I had a conversation just a few days ago, where someone suggested that the more regulation there is, the more regulators are actually allowing non-banks into the banking space. In other words, it's just a matter of time before crypto becomes a bank. In the US, there's this proposal to treat stablecoins as depository institutions. Once you do that, you actually make a stablecoin into a bank. Do you see a general movement in terms of regulation, which is actually creating opportunities rather than creating silos?
EB: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. In our case, the fact that we got our licence here in Singapore means that now we can work with way more people than usual. So, whether it’s banks, payment institutions, or payment service providers, we can really talk and we can have a discussion. Since we made the announcement, I have received so many calls from people who would say, “I can’t work with you but now you are regulated.” Yeah, we're more than happy with that. And so, you're perfectly right.
TripleA got MAS’ first crypto licence
ED: Excellent. Okay, now, let's come down to TripleA. The burning question in my head is, how is it that you got the first licence? What do you think made the difference?
EB: I get this question very often. The problem is MAS will not tell you why you are given a licence or not. I see two reasons for us being among the first. The first reason is that we have a business model. Because it's payment, it's B2B, we can do a very good KYC on the merchant. It's fairly easy to do a KYC on a business because you have a lot of supporting documents, audited financials, a lot of indication that the business is legitimate. If you compare it to people like Coinbase, who is trying to be licenced in Singapore, the challenge is how do you do a proper KYC on individuals? So, the first point is the fact that we have a B2B use case, ecommerce business transactions, invoices, supporting documents, and so on. Second thing is I'm sitting on the boards of couple of payment institutions in Singapore, in France, in the UK, in Saudi Arabia. So, I believe there is a bit of credibility coming from us, which was reassuring compared to the pure crypto native young guys who are probably not so familiar with how to run a regulated business.
ED: What about the fact that Singapore needed to have this payments component, especially for point-of-sale payments to extend the use of Cryptos. You know, you're effectively domiciled in Singapore.
EB: Yeah, we're headquartered in Singapore. Most of the employees are based in Singapore. All the technology is developed in house. So, we are fully Singapore-based.
ED: And your customers, do they include Singapore banks? Do they already use you?
EB: The banks are not yet our clients. We use them as banking partners of course. But we're having discussions. Some of the banks here are interested in potentially adding crypto as a form of payment on their acquiring business.
ED: Who are your clients at the moment? Here, I'm constructing TripleA as a business. And, by the way, why the name TripleA, which is very interesting. Let's get a full profile of TripleA, and then there are some very important questions I like to put in there.
EB: In terms of merchants, so we have a strategy which is two-folds. We go direct to merchants, usually the large ones. We're going with payments, payment gateways, payment PSPs, in order to add crypto. So typically, people who are processing cards or maybe Alipay, and WeChat, and so on. So that they can add crypto as a form of payment. So, both direct and indirect channel. The type of industry, who like crypto very much, are all digital contents, gaming and things of this nature. And one of the key features they love about crypto is the fact that there is no chargeback. There's no risk of fraud. Today, when people are paying with a credit card, the credit card can get stolen. In case of a dispute, it's the merchant who has to swallow the fraud. With crypto, this cannot happen. So that's great for that. That's a bit how I got the idea of TripleA. It was that I saw that a lot of our merchants were struggling with fraud. And when I understood crypto, I said, “Oh, that's a perfect payment option for these businesses.”
ED: Yeah. When did you get those ideas? 2016? 2013?
EB: Yeah. 2016. So, the other type of merchants, who like crypto as well, are more people who are from luxury type of merchants. We have a Swiss watch manufacturer, for instance, as one of our clients. Because people who invested in crypto a few years ago, now they're really rich, and they want to be able to spend in crypto. So, that's also an interesting type of type of merchants.
ED: Okay, but a lot of the technology problems in making crypto payments, especially in Bitcoin, there are specifications for each of the different cryptos some easier than others. How do you wrap all of that in your mind? And how do you build this infrastructure that is crypto agnostic or rather product agnostic.
EB: So, obviously, our goal is really to make it seamless for our merchants so that we don't have to understand all this technology and all those complexities. The way we started is by really looking at what were the mass users because there are various like zillions of coins around the world, but a lot of them might just be traded but are not really used in a foreign payment transaction. The reality today is that with three cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT, you cover 99% of the market. The great thing is, like I mentioned the issue with Bitcoin, which takes a bit of time. Now we have implemented lightning, which enables to have very fast transaction and very low-cost transactions. So that's why a few years ago, we would not have been possible to pay something for worth a dollar. Now with Bitcoin Lightning, we are seeing a lot of transaction being processed like this.
ED: So, Bitcoin Lightning, is that your technology? Or is it available?
EB: It's open-source technology.
ED: Just give me a sense of your balance sheet. Where do you make your money from mostly? And how much of that is assets that may actually sit on your balance sheet?
EB: So, first, we're not taking a position on crypto. So, by definition, my business model is not impacted whether crypto goes up or down. We automatically exchange as we are working with dozens of liquidity providers. We don't take a crypto risk. Our fees are based on a fee that we charge to the merchant, which is way cheaper than credit card or what PayPal is charging to merchants.
ED: Now, could it be that you were given a licence because PayPal wants to enter in this business of processing payments? And it was important for Singapore, for example, to have a local player that could be a differentiator, or a player in this whole merchant acquiring business for crypto?
EB: It's possible. Once again, it’s very difficult to know what MAS’ intentions are. But I believe that we're solving a problem in the crypto space, helping merchants to accept crypto but not touching it. At no point in time, merchants have crypto on their balance sheet, they don't take any volatility risk, or anything of this nature. We behave exactly like when they're using PayPal or Stripe, they're getting money on their bank account the next day.
ED: Right. Then there is Ripple, which has got Tranglo, which is something similar to what you're doing, but somewhat more difficult, complex and complicated. Because Ripple just keeps looking for an excuse to use its own crypto, which is XRP. How would you distinguish your business model from Ripple and PayPal? What's unique about your business model and your critical success factor? What will determine that your business will grow? And by the way, is your business cross-border now that you've got a licence in one country?
EB: Our business is cross-border, meaning that we can enable merchants based in Singapore, as well as outside of Singapore. By definition, the end user consumer can be anywhere in the world. So, that's one of the beauties of crypto. You have access to 300 million people around the world. So, you can see crypto as the kind of universal alternative payment method. Anyone can get crypto so then they can buy from you as a merchant. On Ripple, I don't think they're in our space at all. I think what we are trying to do with Tranglo is really to help on the remittance business case. So, we are more into consumer-to-consumer transaction and working with remittance companies to enable that. So, we are more into payments, whether it's consumer payments or business payments.
ED: One advantage that PayPal has over you is that they already have the player platform for merchant-to-merchant or business-to-business. Whereas you have to build a platform for the merchant-to-merchant. In other words, you also need to have a critical mass of merchants on your platform. Do you have a critical mass? Do you think that you have the critical mass that actually exists today? Or are you still building it? And when will you feel like you've become a dominant player in the merchant acquiring business for crypto?
EB: So, it's obviously still a very tiny market. The number of merchants interested in accepting crypto. The point is that even if you're a PayPal merchant, you're still not accepting crypto. Because it's only the crypto that was bought by the PayPal user, and which then can be resold and instantly sent to the merchant. So, it's not like you're only having the 200 million-ish users of PayPal, which is great. But it still does not enable you to not accept crypto. Because the crypto that I have, for instance, my Coinbase account, I cannot put it on my PayPal account. So, if I'm a Coinbase user, I still can't pay even on a PayPal merchant. I have been very diligent at applying the lean startup model for TripleA. Starting with an MVP (minimum viable product), we reached product market fit. And now we're ready to scale up. So today, we have about 2000 merchants, which is obviously just the beginning. But this is a user-base, which should be multiplied by 10 in the next 18 months I'm guessing.
ED: 2000 merchants, mostly in Singapore or just everywhere?
EB: So, we have about 50% in Asia, 30% in Europe and 20% in the rest of the world.
ED: Have you made applications for licences of this kind in other jurisdictions? I think there's FinCEN in the US. In Europe, are their payments licence for cryptos?
EB: No, that's one of the big problems. It's still very new. We've been lucky to be in Singapore, because Singapore is the only jurisdiction with a clear payment legislation. Our licence is merchant-acquiring, money-transfer, and crypto. That redefines what we are. You don't have things which are so well-organized in other jurisdictions. So, we're registered with FinCEN already. And we're looking at applying in the other jurisdictions. We're hoping that the European Union will each have a proper regulatory framework soon. That would be ideal. Because for now, it's only a couple of countries within Europe having regulation for crypto.
ED: Now, we started this conversation by you telling me that as a payments expert, the most important ingredient of a payments infrastructure is the KYC and AML component. You can track a crypto transaction. Do you think that a licencing regime is as necessary for crypto as it is for traditional payments of any kind including wholesale or retail? How should the right licencing regime for crypto be different from traditional payments?
EB: I think the principles shouldn't be different. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that your system cannot be used to launder money or to finance terrorism. And you're right to say that on blockchain, you can actually trace the origin of the thoughts. And that's what we're doing. So, we have a blockchain analysis tools, which is tracking directly or indirectly where the crypto are coming from. So, we're able to say wherever the crypto is coming from Coinbase, which is a regulated exchange in the US doing a good KYC. While we can know that the crypto may be coming from dark web, from scam, it’s been OFAC listed (The Office of Foreign Assets Control) as OFAC is listing crypto addresses as well. So, we're able to detect and block old voice transactions. We are doing an investigation on them and potentially file a suspicious transaction report to our regulator.
ED: Okay, in scaling that business from 2000 merchants to 10x and so on, or 100x, have you started seeing interest coming from the countries that are legitimising the use of crypto? Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, maybe even Zimbabwe, the use case for crypto is much larger than the more regulated and more developed economies.
EB: Obviously El Salvador has been—We received a lot of traction with that. The merchants were kind of forced to accept it because it was legal tender. We haven't received so many requests from really emerging countries, especially when their currency is not so stronger.
ED: So, how do you service them? Because here you are creating point-of-sale infrastructure for merchants. So, do you do it remote? Do you envisage a day when it will become device dependent? Where is this point-of-sale infrastructure going?
EB: To be very frank, most of our transactions are e-commerce transactions. So, web or mobile. POS, we have a bit of it. But it's really starting. And I know, because I sold one of my companies to Ingenico, which was doing terminals. The technology they're using in POS devices is pretty outdated. So, it's very difficult to do a lot of we need things which are a bit more intelligent in order to process a crypto transaction.
ED: In terms of the requests that you're getting, where are they coming from? Where is the bulk of the request coming from? Opportunity gaming? How do you think you'll take it to 10x or 100x?
EB: As I mentioned, digital content is a big one. There's also all the IT developer tools, and so on. Because one of the big use cases for crypto is that a lot of kind of gig economy, in a way, like independent workers, freelancers, developers, designers, and so on, especially when they are from emerging countries, they tend to get paid in crypto, because even for their clients, if they say they send an invoice for $200, it would be cheaper to pay with crypto than to do a wire transfer. So, these guys receive crypto as part of their earnings. So, they need to spend that. Usually, they're buying professional tools, online hosting services and so on.
NFTs are here to stay as technology continues to evolve
ED: What about NFTs? Now that that's become a huge economy by itself. Do you see a way in which NFTs can avoid what you call “gas fees,” in terms of transaction costs and that you would be able to solve some of the NFT gas price conundrum?
EB: We do have NFT clients who are using us as a payment system to sell their NFTs. I think we had a discussion about the gas fees and things of this nature are going to be sold as the technology evolves. There's a lot of improvements going on in the Ethereum world. It’s the same thing for Bitcoin as I mentioned Lightning. So, I would say that all the designers of both solutions did not expect to have hundreds of millions of people using them so were caught by surprise by the amazing successes. So, it's just a matter of time to fix, and to scale up this core infrastructure, which is very efficient and has never been hacked. So, it's an ecosystem, which is here to stay.
ED: Two final questions. One is, isn't your business model also susceptible to becoming overtaken by technology? The whole payment mechanism can actually sit on a token. So, you probably have to issue a token yourself.
EB: I'll be disrupted one day. That's the evolution, and I'm pretty sure we will. That's the beauty of being an entrepreneur and disrupting yourself. When I did data for TransferTo, we started with airtime transfers, and when we saw the emergence of mobile wallets, we knew that we could cannibalize our revenues. That's the beauty of it.
ED: That's what makes you a fascinating man to me, because you started with microchips, and then airtime transfers, and now you're into crypto. You've just seen the whole range of payments. Final question, who is funding TripleA? As a startup yourself, how are you scaling the capitalization and the growth of your business?
EB: I've been funding the business myself. I've been lucky enough to make good exits during my entrepreneurial career. So, for now, I do not raise external money.
ED: Are you looking to raise external money at some point?
EB: I don't necessarily need to. If I were to do that, I think I will go for strategic investors but not pure financial investors.
ED: When will that be? At which point do you think you would need to do that?
EB: Once I find the right partner or partners.
ED: So right now, the sole funder, is you?
EB: I started the company. I started alone. Like TransferTo, I started TripleA by myself.
ED: So that in itself makes it very interesting that you are the first to get this particular licence and set the stage for you. Thank you very much for speaking with me today, Eric. You gave me many insights, which add to how the payment part of crypto is evolving into the future. Thank you.
EB: Thanks for having me.
ED: I have three takeaways from this very interesting conversation with Eric Barbier and it doesn't come from anything he said specifically.
Firstly, I think I understand a little bit better as to why the Monetary Authority of Singapore gave this first crypto payments licence to TripleA. I always had it in the back of my mind that the Monetary Authority of Singapore tends to protect the domestic incumbent local banks, and their ability to absorb all of the new technologies that are coming on stream before opening up the marketplace to the new players. In the case of TripleA, I now get a sense that they don't have any of the local banks as their clients yet. However, they have new forms of competition, that are hovering around in the form of global players like PayPal, who are also in this industry and in this area, who will be applying for licences such as this in the near future. It makes sense for the Monetary Authority of Singapore to give the first licence to a known quantity that operates in the local ecosystem, before understanding all the issues and then opening up to other players. Okay, so that's one thought I would like your comments on.
The second point is from the sense I get from Eric. The growth opportunity and the development of infrastructure and crypto may well come from the countries that are embracing crypto much more inclusively than the more developed economies. So, countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Africa, Zimbabwe, which are far more receptive. And there's a greater demand. That's where you will find more of the infrastructure for crypto to become commonplace be put together.
The third point that I thought I took away from this conversation is that I'm just totally blown over by the fact that Eric has said that he is not looking for funding just now, given the fact that many of his competitors in the future will be bigger global players who will bear down on him. That is the spirit of an entrepreneur, and it will be amazing to watch how his business evolves.
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