[THE INVESTOR] SINGAPORE -- The ultimate goal for Streami, a Korean fintech startup that operates local cryptocurrency exchange GOPAX, is to go beyond borders, according to its CEO on March 15.
“Blockchain technology transcends borders, so it is critical for us to expand to more countries and grow further, beyond Korea,” Lee Jun-haeng, co-founder and CEO of Streami told The Investor in an interview on the sidelines of the Money 20/20 Asia event in Singapore.
With that aim in mind, GOPAX, which offers won-based cryptocurrency trading in Korea, plans to launch a global exchange in the second quarter to get overseas traders onboard. The new platform -- offered in English and Chinese -- will allow trading between coins, but not fiat currency.
Streami CEO Lee Jun-haeng
The fast-growing Southeast Asian market is one destination Streami is considering.
“We need great partners to expand into Southeast Asia, because when it comes to cryptocurrencies, abiding by compliances and regulations are critical,” he said. “We would like to find a good partner that we can work with to make real solutions based on our technology.”
Lee also cited Vietnam and Indonesia as possible destinations for future entry.
Despite its late arrival on the scene in November last year, GOPAX –- an acronym for Global Online Professional Assets Exchange –- ranks fifth in the local exchange market in terms of trading volume, after Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit. Its monthly trading volume reaches an average of 50 billion won (US$47 million), according to Lee.
He attributed the success to GOPAX’s technology expertise: “We can say our technology is one of the best, especially in the two key areas of the exchange, which is cryptocurrency asset management and a strong server that can support a huge number of trading transactions.”
The CEO added GOPAX had no problems when the Korean government mandated the rule to require real-name accounts for traders. New users can easily open cryptocurrency accounts at Shinhan Bank.
One challenge for Streami is when and how to charge for trading on GOPAX, which is currently dubbed a “nice exchange” by local users, for not charging trading fees. Lee said that this payment policy will have to change for the sake of better services.
Lee is a history major from Harvard University who worked at Headland Capital and McKinsey. He founded Streami in 2015, together with a group of friends to do something “meaningful” with blockchain technology. It has around 70 employees at its Seoul office, and is incorporated in Hong Kong, Korea and the US.
Before launching GOPAX, Streami had offered Bitcoin-based remittance service called StreamWire, which gained traction in Hong Kong.
So far, the company has received about 2 billion won funds from investors such as Shinhan Bank, Bluepoint Partners, Fenbush Capital and ICB, among others. At the moment it is not seeking new investments.
At GOPAX, about 20 coins are listed, including Bitcoin, Ethererum, Stellar Lumens, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and Steem.
GOPAX has a committee -- which does not include Lee -- that makes listing decisions based on three criteria.
“First, we look at its technological vision, since we don’t want coins that were created without the purpose of addressing a specific peeve or problem. Second, teamwork is critical. If the team members have good rapport, the project can be sustainable even if it struggles at first. Third and last, the coins have to help people and be beneficial to the community,” said Lee.
Streami has no plans to create its own cryptocurrency, because it will be a conflict of interest as an exchange operator. But it will continuously hunt for good coins to list on its exchange, as well as do more blockchain-based projects, Lee said.
At the Money 20/20 event, GOPAX announced its partnership with Switzerland-based cryptocurrency debit card issuer Monaco, with plans to list its coin Monaco on its exchange next month.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)