DTC founder on getting S’pore retailers, consumers to pay with crypto


Cryptocurrencies have been touted as a good investment over the past few years, and are quickly becoming mainstream. 

So far, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has granted in-principle approval to several companies that deal with cryptocurrencies, including Paxos, Sygnum, Coinhako, and most recently, Hodlnaut and Digital Treasures Center (DTC).

Among the few companies that have been granted this coveted approval to operate, one of them stands out — and not for the reasons you think.

DTC does not offer high interest rates on its investments. In fact, it doesn’t offer interest rates at all. Instead, it focuses on something few companies have done so far — promoting crypto as a payment method.

Why crypto payments?

el lee dtc
El Lee, founder of DTC / Image Credit: DTC

El Lee, the founder of DTC, was first exposed to cryptocurrency around seven years ago, while working at Onchain Custodian. 

But even as he helped others invest in cryptocurrencies, he was struck by the question ‘what is the next step for crypto?’ 

The truth is that you find it very hard to use crypto anywhere else other than buying NFTs, so the use case is limited. You can’t really buy real stuff unless somebody enables that.

Moving on from a digital custodian space, I wanted to start up a new payments company to tackle this market which is the usage utility of cryptocurrency.

– El Lee, founder of Digital Treasures Center (DTC)

As such, he went on to leave Onchain Custodian to establish DTC, a crypto payments startup that encourages retailers and consumers to pay with cryptocurrency.

Improving the payments space

crypto payment
Image Credit: Binance Academy

For El, he saw two major issues with the payments space that crypto would easily address: high transaction fees, and long payment settlement times. 

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have a low transaction fee, and cost savings from these low fees will be enjoyed by businesses and even passed down to consumers.

To put things in perspective, the transaction fee for a bitcoin payment is around US$1.6, while credit card transactions can cost up to three per cent of the transaction amount. For businesses that have large volumes of transactions by credit card, this sum can be quite significant.

Additionally, credit card payments can take a long time to reach merchants, given the long time for SWIFT transactions to be cleared. With cryptocurrencies using blockchain technology, merchants are able to receive their payments within minutes.

However, building a new company is never easy, and El faced his own set of challenges when building DTC. For one, new companies often do not have the reputation of older companies, and as a payments company, DTC faced some scepticism.

There are a lot of companies [out there] and the key thing is what DTC is really bringing to the market. The challenge for DTC is that it’s a nascent company. How do we actually prove to other parties that we are worth the time working with?

– El Lee, founder of Digital Treasures Center (DTC)

Additionally, DTC was trying to enter a market already saturated with many players.

“There are so many players out there. Why would both your suppliers and car channels want to work with us? We had to convince all stakeholders that they had benefits coming into this game together,” he added.

Positioning DTC in Southeast Asia’s crypto hub

crypto singapore
Image Credit: Shutterstock

As Singapore positions itself as the crypto hub of Southeast Asia, El has big plans ahead for DTC. 

“More than 15 per cent of Singaporeans owns some cryptocurrency assets, and this is only set to increase. Cryptocurrency payments are feasible, and financial institutions are already partnering with us,” he shared.

DTC already allows merchants to receive payments in stablecoins, and El believes that as these stablecoins improve their own digital infrastructure, more people will buy in and cryptocurrency will thus increase in popularity.

El is confident that with MAS at the helm, Singapore is on the right path. DTC’s role in this transformation will be to ensure that the financial hub can operate seamlessly.

If you look at the business of DTC, we’re actually facilitating the seamless processing of fiat and crypto. — that’s the bridge we’re building. We are the bridge for crypto to fiat, and we are building payments through our own platforms for everybody else

– El Lee, founder of Digital Treasures Center (DTC)

To that end, DTC is already looking at regional expansion, particularly in markets like Dubai, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, just to name a few.

DTC is also currently working on product design and enhancements — rolling out additional updates, and enhancing product payments flow. Their user interface will also be updated to allow merchants to see all settlements in a single dashboard.

As the cryptocurrency revolution sweeps globally, the world is adapting to accepting new kinds of money — first gold, then paper, and now Bitcoins. While this transformation gains momentum, our technology must also adapt with it, and that is what DTC is doing for Singapore.

Featured Image Credit: Digital Treasures Center





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