Samsung Launch Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition in Singapore this June

The special edition also comes with custom designed Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Watch Active2. Source: Samsung Singapore

Samsung Electronics Singapore today announced that the Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition will arrive in June.

The exclusive Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition will be available from 13 June on the Samsung Online Store at a recommended retail price of $3,388.

Pre-sales will open from 2 June for UOB Reserve, Privilege Banking, Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Metal credit card members and Club21 Members.

The Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition, which features the designer’s signature red, white, and navy brand colours, draped on a pebble grey exterior pulled straight from the runway, will be debuted in a limited edition of 200 sets. To complete the look, the special edition also comes with custom designed Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Watch Active2.

This collaboration with the iconic New York fashion brand combines the best of art and technology. As respective leaders in fashion and technology spaces, the limited-edition Galaxy Z Flip makes a bold statement with Thom Browne’s signature aesthetic and Samsung’s state-of-the-art foldable technology.

Key Product Highlights:

The smartphone is the first of its kind to be encased in glass while sporting a matte look that is soft to the touch and effortless to hold. When unfolded, the Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition reveals even more design details inside, including:

  • Iconic blinds, a reference to the mid-century office aesthetic at the centre of the Thom Browne world, which appear onscreen every time the phone is turned on and off;
  • Pre-set app icons, labelled in classic text, as well as custom wallpaper which create an elemental Thom Browne uniformity;
  • Distinctive sound cues including a typewriter for the keyboard, an analogue ringtone, and a shoe tap on a marble floor, that tie the entire experience together.

The Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition also comes with Galaxy Z Premier Service. This specialised care offering provides customers with the most premium product experience possible, which includes:

  • 24-hour concierge support via Samsung Members App
  • One-time screen replacement or repair with a deductible of $180 (including GST)
  • Door-to-door pick-up and delivery service for device repair (up to two times only)

Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition customers can also enjoy additional complimentary customer service benefits, such as 30-day 1-to-1 exchange for functional defects1, data transfer assistance1, diagnostic checks1, one-time 1-to-1 in-box accessories exchange1, and dedicated and priority queue at Samsung Customer Service Centre at VivoCity.

Galaxy Z Flip Screen Protector Application Service

Samsung will also be launching a complimentary screen protector application service for all new and existing Galaxy Z Flip customers. This service is valid within 12 months from date of purchase. Interested customers can pre-book an appointment via the Samsung Members app before heading down to any Samsung Customer Service Centre.

Huawei set to launch its first ever laptop range and flagship tablet in Singapore on 8 June

Huawei announced that its two mainstream laptops: the HUAWEI MateBook 13 and HUAWEI MateBook D15 as well as its flagship tablet, HUAWEI MatePad Pro will launch in Singapore on 8 June 2020. Pre-orders are available from 30 May to 7 June. These devices focus on mobile productivity, innovative smart design and delivery of a seamless and powerful user experience.

As an important point of entry to the smart ecosystem, the HUAWEI MateBook series and HUAWEI MatePad Pro are designed to synergise with Huawei handsets, wearables and other devices. These products enable the company’s unique Multi-screen Collaboration feature that delivers a seamless multi-device experience to consumers with a simple drag-and-drop file transfer between smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Source: YouTube Tech ARP

Phil Xu, Managing Director of Huawei Consumer Business Group Singapore said, “We are excited to introduce a new range of laptops as well as the latest tablet in Singapore that are the perfect companions for consumers looking for high performance and extreme portability. These devices are stylish, powerful and smart, which makes it perfect for both work and relaxation. As we continue to expand our product offerings in the market, we would like our customers to enjoy a seamless interconnected experience within the product ecosystem including our handsets and wearables.”

Local availability and pricing

The HUAWEI MateBook 13, HUAWEI MateBook D15 and HUAWEI MatePad will be retailing at S$1,598, S$998 and S$898 respectively from 8 June 2020 in all Huawei Concept stores, selected consumer electronic stores and official online stores with Lazada and Shopee.

In addition, customers can look forward to receiving an additional 1 year warranty on top of the standard 1 year, with every purchase of the HUAWEI MateBook 13 or the HUAWEI MateBook D 15, while stocks last.

ProductProcessorStorageColourRetail Price
HUAWEI MateBook 13Intel i5512GB + 16GB RAMSpace GreyS$1,598
HUAWEI MateBook D 15AMD R5256GB + 8GB RAMMystic SilverS$998
HUAWEI MatePad ProOS: EMUI 10.0.1 (Based on Android 10.0)256GB + 8GB RAMMidnight GreyS$898

More than Half of Singaporeans Use Mobile Contactless Payments: Visa Study

Singapore, 28 May 2020 – Mobile contactless payments are on the rise in Singapore with 56 per cent of consumers embracing this new way to pay, according to Visa’s (stock quote: V)Consumer Payment Attitudes Study[1]. An increase of 12 per cent compared to a year ago, this is not surprising given that Singapore is one of the market leaders globally in terms of contactless payments penetration. The increase in usage is also likely due to popular mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, being made available to Singaporeans in the past few years.

Contactless card payments continue to be the most popular option, with 84 per cent of Singapore respondents using this mode of payment. The trend is even higher amongst Generation Y respondents at 92 per cent. Based on the study, Singaporeans prefer the use of contactless payments over other modes of payment when paying for their rides on public transportation or shopping at supermarkets. Top reasons cited for this preference include convenience and rewards. 

“Singapore is an extremely developed market when it comes to contactless payments usage. Over the years, we’ve seen tremendous uptake in contactless payments by Singaporeans, and we’re one of the top countries globally to achieve more than 90 per cent contactless payments penetration[2]. Supermarkets and quick service restaurants are one of the key contributors of this growth, coupled with contactless acceptance in new categories such as public transportation, which was introduced last year. During this period of circuit breaker in Singapore, we continue to see strong contactless payments growth and we’re confident that the growth will continue once people are out and about and back to their normal lives,” said Mr. Kunal Chatterjee, Visa Country Manager for Singapore & Brunei.

Visa also recently implemented an option for merchants not to capture signature as a cardholder verification method to reduce consumers’ physical contact with the point-of-sale machines and enable a more frictionless payment experience. This is in addition to increasing contactless payment transaction limits, from the previous amount of $100 to $200 so that consumers can tap and wave their cards or payment devices, without signature verification.

In Singapore, state-of-the-art mobile security and stringent data privacy measures have made the adoption of mobile contactless payments possible. Three in four Singaporeans (75%) do not feel that their personal information is at risk when making mobile payments. In addition, two in three consumers believe that merchants, banks and third-party companies provide sufficient security to protect their transactions.

Security concerns are largely unrelated to the payment mechanism itself, but rather the possibility of losing one’s mobile phone (61%) or the potential for getting hacked (49%). The study also found that three in five Singaporean consumers are even willing to share their location data with merchants in return for special discounts, promotions and services.

With contactless payments becoming more frequently used among consumers, the idea of Singapore becoming a completely cashless society is no longer a pipe dream. Nearly half of Singaporean consumers carry less cash in their wallets compared to two years ago, with increased usage of contactless payments being the top reason (68%). They have also shown continued support for the Singapore Government’s Smart Nation initiative to digitise the country, and 62 per cent of them expect their usage of cashless payment methods to increase next year. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to motivate a shift towards digital transactions, changing payment habits could further accelerate the growth of digital payments.

[1] The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study was conducted in October 2019 by ENGINE Insights with 511 Singaporeans aged 18-65 years of age. This is part of a regional research project conducted in Southeast Asia on 5,000 consumers across seven markets in Southeast Asia.

[2] VisaNet data as of March 2020

Press Release: Finding the formula for future leaders – Science and technology university launches unique master’s program

SINGAPORE, May 26 – The digital world is facing a crisis that has at the same time opened new windows of opportunity. To tackle the shortage of potential leaders joining the digital sector, the Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT) has crafted a new course: Masters of Science (MSc) in Computer Science and Software Engineering – to better prepare graduates for leadership roles, specifically within the IT and science disciplines. Launching in September 2020, the newly developed program is available for students with bachelor’s in computer science or software engineering who have ambitions to be a part of the next generation of technical leaders.

A new master’s in Computer Science and Software Engineering course from the Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT) will be officially announced on May 26th, 2020 at a virtual conference. This is the first master’s program to be launched by SIT — a newly formed university based in the technology hotspot of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. SIT was founded by entrepreneurs and global thought leaders, and is focused on bridging the gap between education and industry.

Chaired by Acronis CEO, Dr Serguei Beloussov, SIT and its syllabus have been specifically developed to tackle current challenges in the IT, physics, and business industries, including the shortage of future leaders joining the software sector.

“The SIT program will prepare graduates to manage software engineering projects within their own businesses, research organizations, or corporations. We blend science and practical needs to bring knowledge to anyone. Combining computer science, quantum technologies, and new materials will give graduates a strong foundation to develop innovative solutions. Scientists and business leaders from the SIT’s Board of Directors will help connect students with leading technology experts and build up relations with successful technology companies,” says Dr Serguei Beloussov, Founder of SIT.

With studies suggesting that a vast majority of computer science courses do not adequately prepare graduates for CTO or CSO-type leadership positions, the SIT MSc in Computer Science and Software Engineering course has been strategically developed with leadership in mind and connected to world-class research expertise.

SIT’s master’s program meets the traditional Bologna European system standards for higher education. Based on a two-year curriculum of full-time study (or a fast-track three-semester curriculum), the course follows the traditional academia year and is therefore ideal for students currently graduating with a bachelor’s in science or engineering. The course will also uniquely offer students more freedom to learn directly at the SIT campus, or through an agile flip-blended eLearning teaching style designed to meet the different needs of on-site and remote students.

The thesis required to complete the master’s degree can be written based on the student’s experience in their own start-up business, with access to the SIT techpark and investors, or at one of SIT’s business network partners, as well as in the SIT leading research laboratories. This level of engagement with businesses is extremely rare in highly technical master’s degrees from other prestigious specialist universities.

More details on the new master’s in Computer Science and Software Engineering course will be announced at the SIT Virtual Nano Conference, which will feature world-class speakers sharing their expertise in the fields of IT, science, and business. These include Nobel Prize Winner and Chairman of the Advisory Board in SIT Prof. Sir Kostya Novoselov, Acronis Executive Officer and the founder of SIT Dr Serguei Beloussov, Professor of Software Engineering at the SIT Prof. Mauro Pezzè, Professor of quantum physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford Prof. Artur Ekert, and Former Chief Polygraph Examiner and Interrogator Dr Barry L. McManus. Keynote sessions as well as panel discussions will be held on topics including quantum computing and cyber security.

About SIT: With its pioneering curriculum, the Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT) offers a new model of education. Focusing on the most important areas of technology, SIT will drive research, development and innovation in a next generation learning and research environment. Using state-of-the-art facilities, SIT’s students, researchers and business allies will address large-scale world problems by developing a technology curriculum based on global issues.

Some of the world’s greatest minds have already bought into SIT. The initiators of SIT are a team of entrepreneurs, education specialists, and scientists brought together by initial investment by Acronis AG, a cyber protection company, located in Schaffhausen and Singapore.

Review of Sudio ETT – Sudio Brings in Active Noise Cancelling in Their Latest Sudio ETT

Ever since Sony wowed the market with their WF-1000XM3 in 2019, the battle in True Wireless System (TWS) has turned the focus on Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and this is not just happening between the audio product giants but upcoming brands like Sudio is also joining in the fight. Ever since Sudio introduced their first TWS – Sudio Nivå in 2018, Sudio has been constantly improving their range of TWS. In the beginning of 2020, Sudio launches water-resistance Sudio Fem that comes with IP rating of IPX5. Months later, Sudio debuts their first TWS that comes with ANC features – Sudio ETT.

How does the ANC fare?

Unlike Sudio Fem, Sudio is bringing back the physical multi-purposes button. To turn it on. It is a simple long press on the button for 2 seconds and that will follow by a voice notification that ANC is turned on. (ANC is not turned on by default)

Obviously, I could sense that the surrounding noise drops dramatically once the ANC is activated. However, I also noticed several other changes in sound. First, I sense that the music volume increases significantly once the ANC is activated. I am not sure that is the culprit of making the surrounding sound “disappear”, but I think this is worth noting especially for those who are mindful on the music volume of their headset. A little tip: Lower the volume slightly before turning on the ANC.

Second, I notice the sound stage changes as well once the ANC is turned on. Beside being louder, the vocal appears to be brighter and overall experience is rather pleasant especially watching concert video over YouTube. Maybe it is purposely engineered for that purpose – you don’t want to be disturbed by your family TV when you are immersing yourself in Black Pink’s concert on your iPad.

Sound performance – ANC On Vs Off?

The Sony WF-1000XM3 is the game changer when comes to ANC and I have absolutely no doubt about it but I don’t really like the sound that it delivered when its ANC is on; maybe I am biased (Everyone who read my blog knows that I am not a fan of ANC). I feel that music lacks “life” when its ANC is turned on. I prefer the ANC to be turned off when I am listening to YouTube concert. (Don’t get me wrong! I love my WF-1000XM3. I am merely comparing its sound stage with ANC and without ANC)

Ironically, the Sudio ETT is entirely opposite. It sounds so much better when its ANC is turned on. A good balance of bass and treble and more importantly, the voice performance is richer. Listening to concert with this is extremely pleasant.   

Other Perks?

Sudio ETT is also water resistance with IP rating of IPX5 just like the Sudio Fem. Essentially, you could clean them with some water after your run.

The Sudio ETT is equipped with wireless charging capability

The Sudio ETT can be charged wirelessly, a common feature that you could only find in some premium ranges of TWS. (For your info, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is not equipped with that function). If you have wireless charger at home (I mean who don’t own one these days), you could have one USD cable less in your power socket.

Verdicts

When comes to ANC, the Sudio ETT is not the ‘A’ student in the class. However, the performance is remarkable given the fact that this is Sudio’s first attempt to include ANC in their range of TWS. Afterall, it works and that is what matter for typical consumers. Anyway, we won’t turn on the ANC when walking on the busy street for obvious reasons. Furthermore, we are all staying at home these days. (how noisy can our home be?)

Get a new Sudio tote bag for free with every purchase from sudio.com.

Retailing at SGD 239, you get a water-resistance TWS that comes with premium wireless charging and ANC feature. I think the price is reasonable but TND is bringing a special offer for the readers (there is always a perk for TND readers).  If you are using TND promocode “theneodimensionEtt”, you get a further 15% discount off.

The perk does not end there. From now till end of July, you can get a new Sudio tote bag for free with every purchase from sudio.com.

Fujitsu Joins Amazon & Facebook to make its patents freely available in the fight against COVID-19

Joining the Open Covid Pledge, Fujitsu is the new tech player along sides with Facebook and Amazon in  providing free access to its intellectual property rights for activities aimed at ending the global spread of the disease.

In committing to the Open COVID Pledge, which originated in the US, Fujitsu has declared that it will not assert its patents, utility models, or designs against individuals or entities for a certain period of time and will not seek any consideration or compensation for such activities. Fujitsu has also endorsed and declared its involvement with the “OPEN COVID-19 DECLARATION,” a similar initiative in Japan

Through its commitment to these pledges, Fujitsu will contribute decisively to an early end to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing free access to approximately 40,000 patents, utility models, design patents (including pending applications) related to the development of new drugs and patient care, and actively promote cross-industry utilization by companies and research institutions around the world in the spirit of global cooperation and human centric innovation

The Open COVID Pledge, launched by an international coalition of legal experts, scientists, and technologists, is an effort that encourages companies, universities, and researchers to make their intellectual property available free of charge for use in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizing the impact of the disease. Those who make the Pledge help ensure that uncertainty around intellectual property rights will not slow or impede urgently needed solutions in this critical time.

You can see the details of the Fujitsu’s declaration here

Lenovo’s flagship X1 Carbon Gen 8 Arrives in Singapore

Lenovo (stock quote 992.HK) (ADR: LNVGY) announced the pre-order availability of its flagship business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen on Lenovo® Official Singapore Site.

Source: Lenovo Singapore

Pricing for the much-anticipated ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 starts at SG$3,449, with further upgrades available in processing, memory, storage, and display. Citibank customers can purchase the flagship device on a SG$288 x 12 months installment plan (Note this is not an interest-free promotion). Pre-ordering the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon on the official store will offer customers access to discounts of up to 75% on selected accessories including the X1 Noise Cancellation Headphones, and the best-selling 3-Year Premier Support

“For many years, our X1 Carbon series has represented the apex of Lenovo’s innovation and design thinking. We’ve designed it with our customers in mind, imbuing it with best-in-class security, durability, and productivity features to meet the high demands of modern professionals. The 8th Gen of the X1 Carbon is no different. It’s another proud milestone for our iconic machine and we’re very excited to offer our Singapore customers early access to purchase the flagship device on our E-commerce platform,” said Reno Chow, eCommerce Head, Lenovo Singapore and Malaysia.

Here are the full specifications of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8:

ProcessorUp to 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 with up to 6 cores
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
Display14″ 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS with Dolby Vision™ HDR400, 500 nits, 10 bit14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS PrivacyGuard, 500 nits14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, low power, 400 nits14″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS, 300 nits14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Touch, 300 nits
MemoryUp to 16GB LPDDR3
BatteryUp to 18 hours* 51Wh, includes Rapid Charge *Based on MobileMark 2014, an industry standard PC performance benchmark. Actual results will vary depending on your system’s usage and settings, including power management and screen brightness.
StorageUp to 2TB PCIe SSD
GraphicsIntegrated Intel® UHD Graphics 620
SecurityFast Identity Online (FIDO) authentication capabilitiesMatch-on-chip fingerprint readerdTPM 2.0 chipThinkShutter camera coverOptional: ThinkPad PrivacyGuardOptional: ThinkPad PrivacyAlert*Kensington lock slot *PrivacyAlert requires the IR camera.
AudioDolby Atmos® Speaker System4 x 360-degree far-field microphones
CameraHD 720p with ThinkShutter privacy coverOptional: Hybrid Infrared (IR) & HD with ThinkShutter
Dimensions (W x D x H)323mm x 218mm x 14.9mm / 12.71″ x 8.54″ x 0.59″
WeightStarting at 1.09kg / 2.40lb
ColorBlackBlack with Carbon-Fiber Weave on top cover* *Available only on the 4k HDR400 display.
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 AXBluetooth® 5.0Optional WWAN: Integrated Global Mobile Broadband 4G LTE-AOptional NFC
Ports2 x USB-C Thunderbolt™ 32 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1)HDMI 1.4Network extension for Ethernet/side mechanical dockingHeadphone / mic comboMicroSD card reader
KeyboardSpill resistantBacklit with white LED lightingNew FN row F9-F11
AC AdapterUp to 65W (supports Rapid Charge)

Singapore-Based TranSwap Launches E-Remittance Services for Foreign Domestic Workers

SINGAPORE 6 May 2020 -TranSwap, a home-grown cross-border payments platform for businesses, today announced that it has launched an e-remittance service, for employers of foreign domestic workers to digitally send money back to their families during Circuit Breaker. The launch comes at a time when it has been challenging for these workers to access remittance services to send money home and support their families. The home-grown FinTech start-up provides services mainly for SMEs and businesses, but they are now stepping up to help those workers who are affected by the circuit breaker measures with their remittance woes.

Employers will be able to transfer money on behalf of their workers in their local currency (mainly Rupiah, Pesos, Kyat, Rupee) seamlessly and conveniently while staying safe at home. It takes less than 5 minutes to send the money, and remittance can be tracked in real-time with end-to-end status updates. This will allow the employers to send the money on behalf of foreign workers upon the worker’s request

The cross-border payments company has also set out to provide Non-Face-To-Face (NFF) Transactions which includes having e-KYC to onboard customers. Unlike traditional remittance agents which rely on face-to-face KYC and compliance, TranSwap boasts an electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC).

By tapping on TranSwap’s remittance service, employers will have the flexibility of choosing between paying to a bank account or to a digital wallet, where the latter option is more commonly used by FDW’s families as some of them may not have bank accounts. The mobile wallet option brings further benefits to FDWs as their families can withdraw cash through ATMs without having a bank account.

Mr Benjamin Wong, CEO and co-founder of TranSwap said, “With the circuit breaker measures in place, we want to contribute to the society by providing our payment solution to affected foreign domestic workers. During these trying times, we are glad to step up to offer a safer, cheaper and more convenient online remittance service. In this way, Foreign Domestic Workers can continue to remit money to their families who may rely on their money.”

Source: Media OutReach

Review of Soul Emotion 2 TWS – Don’t Associate “Cheap” as “Bad”

We have heard enough bad news about Covid-19. In Singapore, people are encouraged to stay at home during this circuit breaker. If there is one good thing in this pandemic, we are still free to go out for run. A good set of earpieces is a perfect companion especially we are running alone. If you have been following my blog closely, we have reviewed several headsets that are designed for fitness fanatics. The latest one is Soul ST-XS2.

This time, we are reviewing another TWS from Soul – Soul Emotion2. The cheaper Emotion2 is different from the Soul ST-XS2 in several ways. In terms of appearance, the Emotion2 is smaller and sleeker. Apart from that, the Emotion2 does not come with ear wings.

Source: Instagram @weewu

Unlike the Soul ST-XS2 that comes with 4 colours, the Soul Emotion2 comes only with 3 colours (pink, white & black). Soul Electronics sends me a white Emotion2 for review. Although the Emotion2 is a smaller device than the ST-XS2, the Led indicator light on the Emotion2 is larger and more visible than the one on the ST-XS2.

The Emotion2 is also splash-proof with a rating of IPX4. In another words, you could clean the Emotion2 with little water (just make sure you don’t put it under the running tap).

The Emotion2 is incredibly light. Weighed at approx.5g, it is amazingly comfortable to wear for long hours. However, this advantage may have some side effects to those with big earhole. I brought this out for a run and find that I must frequently make adjustment to make sure the Emotion2 is at the place that it should. Although I have switched to its biggest earplugs, it just does not work for people like me who have big earhole.

Soure: Instagram @weewu

Audio Quality

The Emotion2 delivers crystal clear sound with a balanced sharpness. Bass is warm and it mixes well with the treble. While I am immersing myself to a passionate vocal performance on YouTube, the Emotion2 produces a well-balanced sound with “visible” enough High, Mid and Low tones.

Conference call with this is acceptable as I can clearly hear what the counterparty is saying but it does not work as well for the other party. Apparently, the performance of mic is a little lacking. I need to speak louder to get my voice across.

Although physical design blocks off some surrounding noise, it is still quite disturbing when you are trying to focus on your online seminars. In this case, a good noise cancelling TWS could help to block off noises from the Kids TV programme while you are working. Unfortunately, this feature is not included.

A Good Buy?

This is a good product for loner like me who spent lots of hours online watching movies and concerts alone. Music is an experienced goods that touches people emotionally. As long the TWS could deliver what it is supposed to deliver, it is a good product. That is why I find the name of this product speaks for itself.  

Of course, it is also extremely comfortable to wear (just don’t bring it out for run. It is not designed to anyway).

It is cheap and I do not mean it in a negative way. Their official store at Lazada is selling at SGD54.90! That is crazy! Granted. There are flaws like no active noise cancelling but why does that matter? Who else is watching “Baby-Shark” when I am all by myself at home watching Black Pink’s music video? I am a cheapo if you want to say so.

Recommendation: “Buy” (if you are an introvert like me)

Covid 19 Crisis – Like it or not, Cryptocurrency is Here to Stay

Like our old saying, “When there is recession, there is an opportunity”. In 2008, we faced the world’s worst financial crisis. Lehman brothers’ collapse has shown the world the inherent vulnerabilities of our monetary system. Central banks across the globe were caught off guard. European Central Bank (ECB) hastily made deep cut in the interest rate in the hope to restore investor’s faith. However, market did not recover at the rate as expected since then. Ironically, another historical event happened in the same year – bitcoin.org domain was registered.

Fast forward to today. ECB’s idea of negative interest rate fails miserably, and US Fed follows Japan’s zero interest rate policy will lead to monetary failure in the long term. Investors, flooded with these “free” money, are facing a challenge of finding returns in their investment. As such, they are more willing to take up more risks in exchange for higher returns. Cryptocurrencies, once known to be highly speculatively, starts to re-ignite the interests of investor amid Covid-19 crisis.   

Quick Recap of Bitcoin’s History

Hailed as the “King of Cryptocurrency”, Bitcoin first appeared in investors’ radar in 2013. During that time, almost all markets were trying to recover from the Global Financial Crisis. Investors were extremely cautious not to put money in conventional financial instruments; stocks, bonds and even commodities were not spared as well as they were all interlinked with financial instruments one way or another. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is the only “tradeable asset” that was unlinked to other financial products while at the same, it offers certain degree of liquidity to investors.

That year, Bitcoin was priced at around USD 13. In less than a year, the price had skyrocketed to slightly less than USD1,300 (That’s approx. 100x returns in a year!) That price spike was not sustainable which inevitably, Bitcoin crashed; pricing it at about USD 600 in the same year.

It was a choppy ride for Bitcoin between 2013 to 2017 but it was also a “Golden Era” for Bitcoin. Thousands of new cryptocurrency exchanges were formed. Regulators from all around the world refused to acknowledge Bitcoin as an asset class. However, market will not succumb to regulations; it will just find their ways for survival. Start-ups which struggled to raise fund via conventional means starts to offer their own coins in what they called “Initial Coin Offerings”. At the end of 2017, Bitcoin was priced as high as USD 19,783!

Many crypto investors became millionaires during the Golden Era of Bitcoin. However, the peak was short-lived. By the end of 2018, many cryptocurrency exchanges collapsed, and Bitcoin had crashed to USD 3,300.

Resurgence of Cryptocurrencies during Covid-19 crisis

Over the years, we have heard many criticisms debating the intrinsic value of Bitcoin. I believe most of them are valid but not all of them. At the very least, Bitcoin laid an important pillar for further technology advancement in the area of finance and business – Blockchain technology. A classic example is Ripple (XRP) which made used of this technology to create an architecture that could facilitate faster payment settlement for financial institutions. In Japan, banks are using Ripple protocol to facilitate payment via mobile app.    

Blockchain has created an entirely new market of its own – cryptocurrency and that has completely changed the way how investors look at the economy and after more than 10 years, investors began to accept the fact that Bitcoin is here to stay. For the past 5 years, Bitcoin’s transactions has grown more than double to about 300,000 daily (source: ycharts.com last checked on 26 Apr 2020, link here)

Zhao Changpeng (CZ), CEO of Binance. Source: Binance

However, we do not see sharp price spike of Bitcoin as what it had experienced before in the last decades. One logical explanation is the fact that investors have more options these days.  Over time, the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem has expanded and become more diverse. There are many more cryptocurrencies now. Each is developed to solve a specific problem faced by business. Bitcoin, though it is the largest by market cap, is not longer the only cryptocurrency that investors have eyes on. For instance, Binance, one of the earliest cryptocurrency exchanges, offers its own Binance coin (BNB) that is used as a base currency to buy/sell other cryptocurrencies.  

The development of cryptocurrency exchange played an integral part of the ecosystem. In recent years, the cryptocurrency market has grown tremendously. In 2017, market capitalization was approx. USD 23 Billion which Bitcoin contributed approx. 86% of the market share. As of Apr 2020, the total market capitalization is approx. USD 218 Billion but Bitcoin’s contribution falls to approx. 63%. (Source:  https://coincodex.com/)

Hunger for “Safe Haven” and Returns

Low interest rate environment is pushing investors to the edge. “Risk-free” returns from government bonds are not longer attractive and that have domino’s effects to money market. On the other hand, term deposits in bank is eroding the value of money.  

Investors are forced to take on higher risk. Ironically, investors deemed the more speculative Bitcoin as a “safe haven”  because it is the only “asset” that is unlinked from other markets such as stocks and bonds which are expected to hit badly in the worsening Covid-19 situations.    

Such behaviour exhibited by investors prompted cryptocurrency e-wallet players to provide more “banking” services. The idea of staking requires cryptocurrency holder to deposit their cryptocurrency to their e-wallet accounts. In exchange, holder will receive an interest, generally higher than what conventional banks are offering, which are paid in cryptocurrency into the e-wallet. For instance, Crypto.com is giving up to 18% interest (per annum) if you are staking their CRO coins.

To attract more investors jumping into the cryptocurrency world, cryptocurrency players are releasing “Stablecoins” which are pegged to the fiat currency. The idea is well received by the investors. At the point of writing, the total market capitalization of the Stablecoin has already surpassed USD 7 Billion. (source: https://cryptonews.com/news/billions-in-crypto-dry-powder-on-exchanges-ahead-of-bitcoin-6326.htm)

With no where to put their dollar, investors are using these “crypto-banking services” to battle this low interest rate environment. All investment carry risk and it is all about managing it. The Stablecoin, in one way or another, eliminates volatility and that has been perceived by investors as a “safe haven”.

Central Banks – The Only Reason Why Cryptocurrency Survives

Central bankers are lacking the understanding of the hyper-globalized markets. Lowering interest rate to prevent the economy from falling apart is like giving a cold medicine to a flu patient. It manages some symptoms, but it does not prepare the markets for recovery.

The modern economies are more complex but central bankers are not equipped with the skills and tools to tackle the economic problems. Flooding the market with “free” money is detrimental to entire financial system and investors are losing their faith. Banks are not able to earn enough profit (interests) from their loan business. Consumers are pushed to put money in all type of financial products fearing that their savings might be eroded in future value terms if they just put it with the bank as deposit.

In short, money is devaluing persistently forcing investors to put their dollars on high-risk technology sector to seek for better returns. In fact, it is already happening before cryptocurrency even exists. Tech stocks, which have all-along been speculative in nature, advanced in the last recession. From an investor’s perspective, it was counter-intuitive decision, but the bet was rewarding. In the short 10 years, technology has advanced, and it is the only resource that we could rely on to keep our economy engine moving despite the lockdowns in major cities.

That is the way the global economy is heading – Technology. Like it or not, our financial system will be getting more complex in future (in fact, it is complex enough now) that human central bankers may not be able to tackle multiple economic problems at the same time. To put it objectively, we will not know how financial technology will play out in the future but now, those with money are betting on cryptocurrency.

This article has been reposted @medium https://link.medium.com/QpcvKrMc15