BT EXCLUSIVE

Blockchain payment startup Terra expands to Singapore, hires ex-Uber exec

SOUTH Korea-headquartered blockchain payment network Terra has set up its South-east Asia hub in Singapore, with plans to expand in the region.

Rahul Abrol, Uber's former Asia-Pacific head of strategy, has also joined Terra at the new Singapore office as head of international business and strategy.

He will helm the regional team and expansion efforts, the Singapore-incorporated startup announced on Thursday.

At Uber, Mr Abrol headed strategy for Asia-Pacific and also managed operations for Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Prior to that, he was with UBS Investment Bank, covering mergers and acquisitions and fund raising.

Terra's blockchain powers CHAI, a mobile payment app launched in South Korea this June.

The company intends to grow its on-the-ground network in Asia through strategic partnerships with local businesses. This will build on its existing collaborations with 25 partners across Asia, which include Singapore-based e-commerce platforms Carousell and Qoo10.

Terra will also formally launch its stablecoin-powered mobile payment app in Singapore in early 2020. A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency that is price-stable and pegged to real-world assets such as the South Korean won or Singapore dollar.

Singapore will become Terra's base to expand to other Asian markets. The startup, which has launched in Mongolia, aims to set up operations in at least five other markets next year, including Taiwan and Thailand, said Mr Rahul.

"Beyond attracting local talent, we also plan to acquire the applicable licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore under the Payment Services Act," he added. The Act is a framework for the regulation of payment systems and service providers in Singapore.

The launch of Terra's Singapore office comes about seven months after the startup secured a strategic investment from LuneX Ventures, the blockchain and crypto-focused arm of Singapore's Golden Gate Ventures.