Crypto firm Amber gets Temasek funding at $4 billion valuation

Amber Group, founded in 2018 by five former Morgan Stanley traders, has seen its valuation triple since June. PHOTO: AMBER GROUP/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Singapore investment company Temasek was among investors in a funding round that valued cryptocurrency-trading platform Amber Group at US$3 billion (S$4 billion), just weeks after the city-state cracked down on marketing by crypto firms. 

Existing shareholders, including Sequoia China, Pantera Capital and Tiger Global Management, also took part in the US$200 million financing, Singapore-based Amber said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 22).

The company, founded in 2018 by five former Morgan Stanley traders, has seen its valuation triple since mid-2021.

Singapore is one of Asia’s hottest markets for crypto start-ups, and Temasek and its subsidiaries have made several investments in the sector in the past year.

Amber extended its Series B funding round, originally announced in June, specifically to bring Temasek in as an investor, said chief executive Officer Michael Wu.

“They are very strategic, so we made this special effort to bring them in,” Mr Wu said in an interview. 

Amber will use the proceeds for hiring in Europe and the Americas and expanding coverage of a mobile application that it launched last year globally, according to the statement.

Mr Wu said Amber may pursue another funding round later this year ahead of an initial public offering that could take place as early as the second half of 2023, most likely in the United States.

The deal comes as Singapore is trying to clamp down on the more speculative aspects of crypto while at the same time encouraging institutional participation. In January, its central bank told companies in the industry to sharply limit marketing geared towards the public, citing the risk of volatile digital tokens. 

Some 180 companies have applied for permits to operate a regulated cryptocurrency business in the wealthy South-east Asian country; as at January, just five had gotten in-principle approvals. Amber declined to comment on whether it has applied for a licence.

Senior executives, including Mr Wu, have relocated to Singapore from Hong Kong over the past few months, underscoring the city-state’s emergence as a hub for the crypto industry. 

In September, Amber said it hired former executives from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to help bolster its expansion.

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