Singapore's DBS Bank to launch retail digital asset trading desk in 2022

DBS Bank, the largest bank in Southeast Asia by assets, will launch a digital assets trading desk for retail customers by the end of 2022, according to an earnings call on Monday.

The bank launched a trading desk for institutional investors in 2021, which The Block first learned of in 2020.

“We are starting the initial work to expand it beyond the current investor base,” said CEO Piyush Gupta on today's earnings call. “And that includes the appropriate thinking about suitability and the potential for fraud… we are looking for an end of year [launch] to take something to market.”

Currently, DBS users are required to call a banker to place orders for cryptocurrencies. Gupta said that they are working on an online, self-service option akin to what users of a cryptocurrency exchange such as Binance are used to. However, it is as yet unclear whether users will be able to withdraw their purchases to a wallet. 

The news follows several other South-East Asian banking giants moving into crypto. Last month, the Philippines' Union Bank unveiled plans to offer cryptocurrency trading and custodial services. Last year, Thailand's oldest bank, Siam Commercial Bank, acquired a 51% stake in local cryptocurrency exchange BitKub.