TECHNOLOGY

This Singapore-Based FinTech Start-up Makes Cryptocurrencies Spendable Anytime, Anywhere

Unsurprisingly, TenX has a massive waiting list

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BY Tricia V. Morente - 06 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

No bones about it: cryptocurrencies have come a long way since bitcoin’s nascence. From a mere 50 bitcoins in 2009, the cryptocurrency’s circulation stands at more than 13,000,000 today, with the world likewise seeing various blockchains spring up across different financial markets and industry verticals.

There are now hundreds of public blockchains available, with total market cap currently estimated at almost $100 billion, and the potential opportunities in the space remain massive. The World Economic Forum has even gone so far as to predict that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on the blockchain in less than 10 years. If you look at this in terms of today’s GDP, that figure is a whopping $7.8 trillion. Insert dollar-eyed emoji here.

And yet for all the fervor surrounding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, two challenges stand out: first, it’s difficult to spend cryptocurrencies in the real world, with most having episodes of illiquidity; second, the inability to connect different blockchains implies that the estimated $7.8 trillion will be dispersed at a significantly lower value.

Enter Singapore-based fintech start-up TenX.

Co-founded by former trauma surgeon and now cryptocurrency thought leader Dr. Julian Hosp, TenX is building a payment platform — the TenX wallet and TenX card — powered by COMIT (short for the earful “Cryptographically-secure Off-chain Multi-asset Instant Transaction network”), a groundbreaking infrastructure that connects multiple blockchains and makes cryptocurrency spendable anytime, anywhere.

“When my co-founders and I first started talking about cryptocurrencies, the big question that stood out was: what good are disruptive innovations like Bitcoin and Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies if you can’t use them in the real world? So we said, hey you know what, we need to make a company where we make these cryptocurrencies spendable — anytime, anywhere, online and offline, all around the world,” says Hosp. 

Driven by their thesis, Hosp and his co-founders worked on developing the technology, eventually winning a hackathon in Singapore and scoring a spot at an incubation program. Two years later, their now 25-strong team celebrated their recently raised $80 million token sale last June. Prior to that, TenX also raised a million dollars of funding in March led by Fenbushi Capital, a China-based VC firm that exclusively invests in Blockchain-enabled companies, of which Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, is a general partner. “We met Vitalik in Singapore and gave him one of our cards. We are the only card that’s live for Ethereum so he got really excited about TenX,” relates Hosp.   

After celebrating their token sale with “champagne with orange juice and going out for pizza for the night,” it was business as usual for Hosp and the rest of the TenX team. While the focus is on clearing the current waiting list for TenX card, it’s full-speed ahead come 2018. “Next year, the big goal is really to get a million users — we’ll be doing a lot of co-branding solutions, B2C marketing, etc. — and I think it’s definitely doable,” Hosp says.

Currently, TenX finds itself in a coveted position in the crypto world: while there are companies that enable users to spend bitcoin, no company has the technology to connect multiple blockchains the way TenX does. “It took us two years of real work to get to where we are now,” says Hosp, adding that there’s still much to be done. As is the nature of any disruptive technology, TenX’s obstacles are never far away. “There’s a lot of pieces — a lot of moving pieces — we need to address,” he says.

In an interview with Inc. Southeast Asia, Hosp lists three of the most pressing hurdles:

The riot that is regulation
In making cyptocurrency truly legit, Hosp says that addressing all the regulatory pieces is crucial. “You have to deal with anti-money laundering, fraud detection, and anti-terror financing. You have to deal with knowing your customer, and you have to deal with refunds,” he says.

That initial list alone will give anyone a migraine, but it's something fintech companies serious about growing the virtual currency sector must make a priority.

For TenX, part of their latest funding round will be funneled into hiring six to eight people to address regulations alone. “In this sector, you compete with banks — so you are competing with people who want big money. They don’t want $2,000 a month; they want $20,000 a month because that is what they are getting at the banks. Having this kind of talent in your company is key,” he says.

The technology challenge
Because the blockchain space isn’t exactly homogenous — each cryptocurrency is different — connecting different blockchains is very difficult. It’s precisely why, when building out COMIT, which allows for cryptocurrencies to connect on an open-source basis, TenX sought to hire the top developers.

“We’ve literally been talking to the top developers around the world. We’ve met with people in the United States, in Silicon Valley, and New York, and we’re hiring the best of the best right now because it really is difficult from a tech standpoint,” shares Hosp.

Locking down logistics
According to Hosp, working with a technology as disruptive as blockchain entails a lot of logistics in the sense that you need to build relationships with different partners. “We have people who do nothing else than work with banks, work with exchanges to actually convert cryptocurrencies into dollars, euros or whatever you need. And these are all things that take time, trust, and relationships,” says Hosp.

Addressing these three hurdles alone, Hosp and his team realized they could not solve all the pain points simultaneously. “Which is why we have a waiting list,” he points out.

And how big exactly is this waiting list? With TenX currently being the only company to provide such multi-blockchain connecting technology, we’re guessing most of the crypto community.

Unable to disclose specific numbers, Hosp reveals this much: “We have several thousand users, in the five digits, and at least twice that on the waiting list for TenX card. The average user spends a couple of hundred dollars a month and transacts once a week.” 

You do the math.