Why Singapore still loves crypto

Why Singapore still loves crypto
Kazi Awal/Insider

Why Singapore still loves crypto
BBH Singapore managing director Sid Tuli.BBH Singapore
    • Ad firm BBH Singapore found one in three Singaporean investors in a survey had invested in crypto.
    • Despite the crash, their outlook is positive, with 65% saying they'll still invest in crypto assets.

Despite feeling the bite of the crypto winter, Singaporean investors remain steadfast in their optimism about cryptocurrency's future, or so suggests a large survey conducted by the advertising agency BBH Singapore.

Sid Tuli, a managing director at the firm, said he and his team were "shocked" by the results.

"The impact of the crypto crash was far larger than we expected — one in three Singaporeans invested in crypto, and one in six of those crypto investors said they've lost so much money that it has seriously impacted their lives," he said.

In the survey of Singaporean investors, 65% of respondents said they remained positive about cryptocurrency and would continue to invest in crypto-related assets over the next three months.


BBH Singapore operates across Southeast Asia, advising United Overseas Bank — one of the largest banks in the region — and has a client list peppered with heavyweights like Nike, Riot Games, and Samsung.

To accurately advise clients on upcoming projects, it sought to uncover Singaporean feelings toward cryptocurrency by commissioning the research project, which consisted of 1,000 investor interviews in May and June. The big takeaway: Crypto has grown exponentially in Singapore, becoming the second most popular asset for investors, after stocks.

Singapore has long been a rising regional star in the world of cryptocurrency. Today, the overall cryptocurrency market has plunged 50% from its November high of $2 trillion. But last year, the latest year with data, Singaporeans were estimated to have held $1.48 billion in crypto assets, according to KPMG, firmly establishing the island state as Asia's crypto capital.

Singapore's cryptocurrency landscape

"Our job is to really understand how people feel and what's driving those feelings," Faraaz Marghoob, BHH's group strategy director who spearheaded the research, said. "Often emotions drive the logic of investors. It's not the other way around."

According to Marghoob, money plays a special role in Singapore's culture.


"If Catholic guilt is the currency of being a Catholic, prosperity is the currency of being East Asian. Money is important. Being rich is important," he said. For this reason, Asian markets tend to be more conservative and risk-averse with spending, he added, saying: "But on the other hand, they'll dive into new technology."

This is exactly what happened earlier in the pandemic, when, according to researchers, more Singaporeans began trading than ever before. Data showed that 51% of investors bought into the asset class over only the past two years, prompted on by the social aspects of cryptocurrency communities, which provided much-needed comfort during lockdowns, along with the economic uncertainties of life with COVID-19.

BBH Singapore also found that just under half all those investing in cryptocurrency had, at best, a basic understanding of it, and a further half said they had no understanding of blockchain.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, BBH found the majority of investors to be younger — with 61.8% of respondents who owned cryptocurrency in Singapore under 35. What the research team did not expect to find was that when older people were investing, they were adopting a high-stakes approach. One in four Singaporean crypto investors over 45 in the survey said they had spent more than 50% of their portfolio on it, indicating that investors were likely using it as a way to shore up their pensions.

"Some people saw it as a shortcut," Marghoob said. "The future is hard to call, and from our research, we know people are inherently nervous about it. People don't know if their jobs are going to be relevant anymore, so anything that can give them a sense of security over their future really appeals emotionally."


Crypto and Web3 are here to stay

"Despite the recent crash, enthusiasm towards crypto investments remains relatively strong, with the majority of investors still standing in their belief that cryptocurrency is the future of money and that the value of their crypto assets will only go up over time," Tuli, the BHH managing director, said.

In June, 69% of respondents in the survey agreed that cryptocurrency was the future of money — interestingly, this number had risen by 11% in the space of one month.

The hold cryptocurrency has on Singapore's financial world is also reflected in online searches in the country. According to the keyword-research platform Semrush, searches for "will crypto recover" have soared by 9,900% between January 2019 and today, and searches for "crypto memes" in the country continue rising.

While unable to share the details, Tuli said conversations with his clients on Web3, cryptocurrency, and the metaverse continued.

"The crash doesn't mean that this is just a fad," Tuli said, adding: "Web3, Blockchain, and crypto are very real and are here to stay."


This article is intended to provide generalized information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always consult with your own financial, legal, tax, investment, or other professional for advice on matters that affect you and/or your business.