Major Malaysian financial firm to invest in regulated crypto exchange

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Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad, one of the largest financial services companies in Malaysia, is moving into the cryptocurrency industry with a new investment.

According to an official Feb. 8 announcement, Kenanga has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire a 19% equity stake in a licensed crypto exchange. The investment was facilitated through Kenanga’s fully-owned private equity arm Kenanga Private Equity.

According to the agreement, Kenanga will invest in Tokenize Technology, the operator of local crypto exchange Tokenize Xchange. Offering trading services for major cryptos like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), the platform is one of the three licensed digital asset exchanges regulated by the Securities Commission Malaysia. According to Kenanga, Tokenize Xchange is the second-largest digital asset exchange in terms of market share in Malaysia.

Datuk Chay Wai Leong, group managing director of Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad, said, “We have been building a digital ecosystem to offer our customers a wide spectrum of financial products and services, including digital assets.” 

“Our interest in digital assets goes beyond Bitcoin and other commonly traded cryptocurrencies. We believe that the technology behind digital assets is very powerful and the emergence of digital assets in the future is inevitable,” he added.

A spokesperson for Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad declined to provide further details regarding the investment. 

Kenanga is one of the largest financial services companies in Malaysia, reportedly owning Malaysia’s largest independent investment bank by equity trading and volume. The company is a known partner of Japanese crypto-friendly retail giant Rakuten, providing a joint online stock trading platform, Rakuten Trade, in Malaysia.

In late 2020, Malaysia adopted new digital asset-related guidelines by the Securities Commission Malaysia. Targeting digital asset custodians and initial exchange offerings, the rules aim to promote “responsible innovation in the digital asset space” as well as managing potential risks and safeguarding the interests of issuers and investors.