On the 4th of June, the Securities Commission of Malaysia granted conditional approval to three cryptocurrency exchanges. This expert believes that the move will help create a safer environment for Malaysians to invest and own cryptocurrency.
In this interview, Scarlett Chai of LUNO Malaysia talks to FLY Malaysia on the way these crypto exchanges work and what the future might look like for the world of cryptocurrencies. Scarlett also shares her insight and experience working in fin-tech start-ups like LUNO and how she keeps herself updated on the latest news in the crypto world.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): Could you give our readers a brief introduction on LUNO and its presence in Malaysia?
Scarlett Chai: To sum up, LUNO is an exchange platform that connects willing buyers and willing sellers where we [LUNO] facilitate that trade between ringgit and crypto. Contrary to popular belief, we do not sell bitcoin/ethereum and as a matter of fact, we are merely a matching platform between two LUNO users to trade among themselves. We’ve been in Malaysia since 2015 and we have seen a lot of potential and interest in the market here. LUNO is also present in Indonesia, Jakarta, Singapore, Nigeria London and South Africa. Our biggest market is in Africa, followed by South-East Asia although, with all the new regulations coming into place here, we expect to see growth in the South East Asian market as people will have more trust in the system and will view it safe to invest in cryptocurrency.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): How does the LUNO platform work and how would a typical exchange take place?
Scarlett Chai: So for instance, if a person has a certain amount of ringgit and I have crypto and we both mutually agree on the price and quantity to be sold, we then trade through that platform. Luno users would have two wallets on the platform- one for cryptocurrency and the other for ringgit. Therefore if you buy crypto, it will be credited and stored in one wallet and the ringgit used to buy that will be deducted from the other. To start, you deposit money in your ringgit wallet and you then place an order to buy crypto at a certain price. The transaction takes place once there is a user who agrees [with the price]. Luno then charges a transaction fee on exchanges that take place on the platform.
To ensure the safety and security of our users, Luno employs multiple security measures like unique reference numbers- a way to track that it’s the user trying to perform a transaction and not someone else trying to steal the funds. If the latter happens, the wallet will the locked and transactions frozen whilst a Luno representative will make verification calls to the affected user.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): With the recent approval granted to Luno by the Securities Commission, what can we expect from LUNO in the coming months?
Scarlett Chai: Luno is approved as a Registered Market Operator, or RMO in the category of digital asset exchanges (DAX). After fully complying with all the conditions and requirements set by the SC, LUNO would like to relaunch our services to all our Malaysian customers. This will allow more customers to safely get their first experience in owning cryptocurrency as we are now regulated. That is our first and foremost priority which is what Aaron[Country Manager] and myself are working on. We also want to focus on educating the average consumer on how to safely buy and store and trade cryptocurrency. Education is key, and as such we want to stress the importance of it.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): What would be the general rule of thumb to keep in mind when investing in cryptocurrency?
Scarlett Chai: Of course, as employees of Luno we are not allowed to give investment advice as it would be a conflict of interest. Personally, and these are just my general opinions, I think the main rule/advice would be to never invest more than what you can afford to. Another thing to keep in mind is that cryptocurrency is very volatile and therefore one should educate themselves first on basic things like what is bitcoin/ethereum and the technology behind cryptocurrency. Before investing money in any exchange, Malaysians should also check the Securities Commission website for the list of approved digital asset exchanges.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): How would one learn more about crypto?
Scarlett Chai: LUNO itself has plenty of resources that are easily accessible for anyone who would like to learn more about cryptocurrency. There’s the Luno Learning Portal, the Luno Blog which churns out articles on product and company updates, industry news and research. For those who prefer a different medium, LUNO also has a YouTube channel with segments such as the Luno News Roundup- updated every fortnight, with the latest news in the cryptocurrency world. Additionally, I would personally recommend the Coin Telegraph and CoinDesk news sites.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): What does the future look like for Bitcoin and how would it compete with digital currencies like Libra?
Scarlett Chai: Within 5 to 10 years at the very least, once people place enough trust and faith in the tech and crypto itself, we expect to see crypto being used in day-to-day transactions. Facebook’s digital currency Libra aims to do exactly that, by promoting mass adoption. However, instead of taking away from Bitcoin’s popularity, we believe that digital currencies like Libra will help quicken the mass adoption of cryptocurrency by helping help people familiarise with the concept and idea of moving away from paper money and towards virtual currencies. Given the pace of advancements, I would place mass adoption shortly.
FLY Malaysia (FLY): Tell us about your journey in joining LUNO and what our readers can learn from your experience
Scarlett Chai: Interestingly, my educational background is in Petroleum Geology but that did not hinder me from joining the fintech and startup scene. That being said, education is very important and it shapes you in a way where you specialise in something, but that should not stop you from venturing into a different field that you feel has potential. In my case, I have found LUNO to be very supportive as both a community and a company; it is very inclusive in terms of gender and diversity. I would encourage youths, especially girls, to venture into financial technology or any industry that they believe they can contribute positively toward.
Journalist: Ayena Shaneez