Goodbye OCBC Plus! It has been nice knowing you. *Sniffs*
NTUC and/or OCBC Plus! cards and accounts are to be phased out from 01 Feb 2023. The discontinuation is due to the end of the NTUC Plus! partnership with OCBC Bank on 31 Jan 2023. OCBC will be migrating affected parties to its bank. Linkpoints will not be lost. Link members can either connect their Link account to the FairPrice app or apply for a physical Link card here. Affected parties should have received more details about the migration.
The early card design certainly had a refreshing look as compared to its peers back in those days. Unlike the “NOW” card from some bank *cough* *cough*
Just sharing the state of my crypto portfolio. Cryptocurrencies currently accounts for less than 1% of whatever assets I still have after the Terra Luna and Hodlnaut collapse. I cashed out the surviving stable coins right after those incidents, and will continue to hold the remaining:
I used to have some BAT, but due to the FTX incident, it has impacted Genesis and as a result, I doubt I will be getting back those, along with some BTC and ETH. The FTX incident is really bad and it gets uglier as more and more details are revealed. In my opinion, the fundamentals of crypto/block chain technology are still sound, and in FTX case, the issues are more related to governance and regulatory of exchanges and investment companies. Crypto is just a tool, it is the intent of the person or organization which makes it useful or harmful.
There are some of the things that I should have done but neglected to.
Stop using Earn features in centralized exchanges. If I had not been lazy, I won’t have lost the crypto parked with Genesis.
Transfer crypto assets from centralized exchanges to non custodial wallets (i.e. Metamask).
It would be safer to store crypto assets in non custodial wallets in case of another FTX event, just don’t forget or lose the security keys. That is how storing of cryptocurrency and assets is supposed to be in the first place and also decentralization.
Interest rates have been going up and needless to say, the topics going around these days are the attractive Fixed Deposits and Singapore Saving Bonds (SSB) rates. That has certainly generated a lot of excitement and for a good reason.
In the backdrop of COVID-19, we have the Ukraine war with the potential to escalate to a nuclear exchange, a gloomy global economy sleepwalking seemingly towards recession, US-China rivalry and climate change, just to name a few. Oh, and not forgetting all those cryptocurrencies meltdowns. All these negative news have solidify the default status of the color RED in markets worldwide.
Just as it looks like the dearth of safe havens for common folks like us, these headlines provided us the much needed hope and possibilities.
Banks in Singapore lift fixed deposit rates further with latest round of promotions
Looking at the queues at the banks around the neighborhood, I am definitely not the only one who sat up and got moving. Of course, there are many other options such as cash fund (robo-advisors), money market funds, treasury bills, and so on. However, we will focus on Fixed Deposits and Singapore Saving Bonds (SSB) as they are the more popular options.
What are Fixed Deposits
Fixed Deposit (FD) or Time Deposit, is a type of bank account that promises you a fixed rate of interest for your principal based on the agreed tenure, or term (i.e. 6 months/1 year/2 years/etc.). In return, you agree not to withdraw the amount of funds. Your deposits are protected if your bank is listed in Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC), up to S$75,000.
What are Singapore Saving Bonds (SSB)
Singapore Savings Bonds are debt instruments issued and backed by the Singapore Government. They enjoy good credit ratings and are considered to be safe investments. Fully backed by the Singapore Government, you can always get your investment amount back in full with no capital loss. Touch wood, if you cannot get your money back, you have more important things to worry about.
From 1 Feb 2019, you may subscribe to SSB using your Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) funds to grow your retirement nest egg. The Individual Limit has been raised from S$100,000 to S$200,000.
Both provide a safe option for growing your money
Your deposits/capital are protected
Interest rates are about the same in general.
Singapore Saving Bond
Insured up to S$75,000 by SDIC, depending on bank
Fully backed by the Singapore Government
Various Tenure Options
10 years, can withdraw any time
Forfeit all interest for early withdrawal
Retain existing payout prior withdrawal date
Interest payout end of tenure
Payout every 6 months
Require account with bank
Require bank account with one of the 3 local banks and an individual CDP Securities account
At most 1-2 business day to process withdrawals
Need to wait till specific payout date per month
Full capital amount will be invested
Allocated amount subjected to allotment limit
No maximum limit
Maximum limit of S$200,000
Can have joint account
Personal account only
Promotional rates subjected to terms and conditions
Standard rate for all
Might have minimum requirement
Start with as little as S$500
The Better Choice?
Comfortable with short term lockdown funds
Only need a bank account / Unable to have a CDP account
Able to get cash fast at the expense of interest payout
Have lump sum for capital and want to place full amount
Fresh funds and/or minimum placement for promotional rates not an issue
Able go to a physical bank branch for certain transactions (for some banks)
Singapore Saving Bond
Comfortable with longer term horizon
Regular savings in small amount when lump sum is not possible
No requirement to get cash fast (because need to wait for payout date)
Already have or wants to create CDP account and have local bank account
Able to accept allotment limits
Can subscribe digitally (i.e. online banking, ATM, etc.)
This would probably be the last thing on a lot of people’s mind after what has happened in the cryptocurrency world – Terra Luna, Celsius, Three Arrow Capital (3AC), Hodlnaut and other DeFi attacks. Hence, they are NOT recommended as a form of safe investment. Unless you know what you are doing, it would be prudent to avoid them. It is possible to lose all your assets with no legal recourse. There are no form of protection such as SDIC or FDIC, and they are not backed by any financial institution nor government.
Not sure if those are isolated incidents but some old folks might be obsessed with chasing after the rising fixed deposits interest rates. After hearing from their friends or relatives that XYZ bank is having a higher interest rate than what they had signed up for, they are bent on switching their accounts without considerations.
Why would you want to take out your fixed deposit account which is due in a month or two, and forfeit the interest, just to chase another one with a higher interest rate? Or to jump from a month or two year old account to another one just because of that increase in 0.5%?
I am not sure if that is a good idea unless they really have done their calculations. Or perhaps I am the one who got it wrong?
19 Oct 2022 – For fixed deposits, you can request to withdraw to a bank account of your choice or by cheque. For Singapore savings bond, the withdrawal will be to the bank account that you have set in your CDP account.
It gets colder and colder in crypto land and there is no denying that this crypto winter is going to last for quite a while. The latest casualty is Hodlnaut and it certainly won’t be the last. IMHO, this decade is not going to be peaceful at all.
The key focus now is to survive and limit losses to the minimal. However, not all is doom and gloom. All markets will have their periods of ups and downs and during this period of down time, it is the best opportunity to go back to basic and re-learn the lessons of the past and strengthen the fundamentals for the future.
The Terra Luna fallout needs no introduction, especially since it had became global news and the impact was so great that it was the talk of the town amongst common folks who were totally clueless on cryptocurrencies. That had also painted a big red bullseyes for the regulators.
It also took quite a while for me to get a grip on the situation and understand what happened. A lot of people had been burnt by this fallout and some time is needed to calm down and assess the damage.
Unless you have been living under rock, here is a brief summary of what happened.
TerraUSD (UST) is an algorithmic stablecoin that maintains its 1:1 peg with the US Dollar via software logic instead of being backed by physical assets (unlike USDC). LUNA is the native token of Terra, a blockchain developed by Terraform Labs and is primarily used to operate the collateralizing mechanisms that ensures UST’s peg. USTs are minted by burning LUNA and can be also swapped for LUNA. For example, if the UST values goes above USD$1, the equivalent value of LUNA would be burned, which mints more UST, making it less valuable. If the UST price drops below USD$1, they are swapped for LUNA, which in turn makes UST more valuable.
Early this month, a large amount of UST was dumped, and UST started to de-peg. As it dragged on, with the backdrop of lack of official information, more UST was sold in mass panic. Hence it was not just a case of UST being de-pegged but it also had an effect of crashing the price of LUNA. With both UST and LUNA prices in free-fall, the rest is history.
Biggest run in crypto history.
Needless to say, it triggered a fallout on the broader crypto market as well as getting international headlines. Even Tether (USDT), another stablecoin, but backed by physical assets de-pegged for a brief period of time. A lot of people’s hard earn money went down the sink and talks about suicides were everywhere. I think it was the largest wipe out in the crypto market.
I had done my research and knew of the risks involving algorithmic stablecoins and how Terra Luna works. I knew that it is a matter of time before a serious de-peg occurs and that the potential of a bank run is always there. Even with their Bitcoin and other reserves, it is in my belief that they are unlikely to survive a full run onslaught.
At that time, before the great crash, 5-8% of my portfolio is in UST and LUNA. I was expecting that I would have enough warning and buffer time to exit if I had to. In the end, I lost almost everything despite knowing what I had gotten into and having an “exit plan”.
Then came the de-peg and crash.
I didn’t expect it to free fall so fast and both at the same rate. The plan was to exit if there was a loss of more than 50% for LUNA. When the price of LUNA was around $30, I was considering selling it all, including UST. Actually, based on the plan, I WAS supposed to sell it all. But I hesitated, thinking that there was a chance that it might recover, despite all signs pointing to further free-fall ahead. It was sunk cost fallacy at work.
When I did finally wake up from my slumber, the price was at $8-9. I sold everything. And later on, out of greed and false hope that I could recoup some of those losses, I stupidly bought some LUNA at around $0.05, and you all knew what happened after that.
It was my first crypto crash. In the last major crash, I was only an observer and I thought I would have learnt from it. I was so wrong. It was very stressful to experience it first hand and for the first time and you really need steady nerves and calm mind to do the right things.
I had a plan, but my discipline to follow through with the plan failed. My emotion is the weakest link. You can make all the plans you want, but when the crunch comes and you could not execute, it is pointless.
Another thing learnt is don’t be greedy. Most of the time when you are too greedy, you lose more.
The fortunate thing is that because I had done my research and knew what risks of I am getting into, UST and LUNA did not constitute a major part of my portfolio, hence losses were limited.
There were two questions that I had been pondering about since I started my crypto journey and perhaps it might be answered this time.
Is it better to stake or earn/keep in CEX (Centralized Exchange)?
Compensation/Airdrops for staked coins vs coins in CEX?
Staked coins might not be easy to exit as compared to coins store in centralized exchanges. But in the event of compensation, in the case of LUNA, you will be the first to get airdrops but for coins in exchanges, you probably might get nothing at all.
That is why I am pleasantly surprised that Hodlnaut supports the new Terra Network airdrop.
To my knowledge, they have been the only one that supports it and throughout this Terra Luna fiasco, they have been very professional and provide clear and timely updates. Major exchanges should be learning from them. Am certainly very impressed and I think they have a bright future ahead.
I still believe that there is future in crypto and it is just the beginning. However, we have to be realistic and looking at the path it took for internet to be part of our day to day life, it will be a rough journey ahead.
The lessons learnt today, I hope, would allow me to avoid making even more costlier mistakes in the future. Life is an on-going learning experience. And always remember, invest what you can afford to lose and always, always remember, there is more to life than dollars and cents.
If you are curious on what caused and how TerraUSD (UST) came to de-peg, you can check out the link below.
Almost 12 years ago, a programmer was craving pizza. So, he bought two pizzas. What made it unique was that he paid for them in Bitcoin, the first-ever real-world transaction using cryptocurrency. 10,000 BTC was traded for 2 pizzas, imagine how much 10,000 BTC is worth right now! As at the time of writing, 1 BTC is worth SGD$ 41,487 or USD$ 30,072.20. You work out the math how much 10,000 BTC is worth now.
And thank you Coinhako for having the Bitcoin Pizza day contest! Love the prize very much!
Coinhako was my first foray into the crypto rabbit hole, by some twist of fate as Crypto.com had been my first choice. Regardless, I found it fortunate that I had signed up with Coinhako as it was an easier platform for beginners and had most success with my trade using that platform.
What is Coinhako?
Coinhako is a wallet and crypto exchange based in Singapore, co-founded by Singapore entrepreneurs, Liu Yusho and Gerry Eng, in 2014. It was originally created to provide a simple and hassle-free way to access Bitcoin and over the years, they have expanded to a wide variety of cryptocurrencies.
They provide one of the most accessible platforms for retail customers to buy, sell, hold, trade and swap cryptocurrencies securely. They also offer an earn feature this year for a variety of cryptocurrencies to allow customers to maximize their crypto holdings. in addition, they allow for multi-payment solutions, like bank transfers, credit card payments and GrabPay.
My brother introduced me to the world of crypto “investment” after he recommended me to sign up for a Crypto.com account. I was unable to sign up as they had stopped all new account registrations in Singapore to comply with the local laws and regulations and their KYC (Know your customer) approval process was problematic. Not wanting to miss out any opportunities and FOMO-ing, I jumped on the crypto bandwagon with Coinhako and have been using it ever since.
What I liked
User friendly and easy to use interface
Have a crypto news section which is clean and not cluttered
Wide variety of cryptocurrencies available for trading
Hassle free fiat on/off ramp
Singpass KYC available
Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulated
Reward points and events to get free crypto
Can earn interest on your crypto (Just launched this year!)
Limited number of coins/tokens with Send and Receive feature
Thoughts and Views
Coinhako is highly recommended for someone who is just starting out on crypto, despite the high trading fees at 1%. It is a suitable platform for someone to get a feel of things works and not that intimidating. The 1% fee, if you are comparing with Gemini’s mobile fees, don’t seems too much at all. The last I remembered, Gemini seems to be charging more if you are trading via the mobile platform.
Account creation and setting up is a breeze too. Using Singpass for KYC is a walk in the park and setting up bank transfer account is straightforward, you don’t even need to go through the extra step of getting a Xfers account. It is very straightforward and best of all, it is MAS regulated. They also have a reward system and events that give you free crypto and their latest earn feature is a much awaited addition.
Of course, they do have some areas that could be worked on. For one, there ain’t much variety of crypto that you can send and receive to/from other wallets. Most of them are only available for trading (buy and sell). On the whole, it is worth your consideration if you are just starting out on your crypto adventures.
Commodities prices tends to go up, especially during war or disaster. Gold is no exception. Gold prices rose in response to the Ukraine War amidst inflation worries. This war is unprecedented in recent history and has far reaching implications for the world and our future. One should not underestimate and label this as just another proxy war between superpowers. Having said that, we hope for peace and recovery for all.
Recently, two tweets caught my attention and set me thinking about gold as part of one’s portfolio. Peter Schiff lamented in his tweet that gold was up above $2,050 for the first time and CNBC chose to cover Bitcoin which was trading below $39,000. Meanwhile, James from MoneyZG mentioned in his tweet that gold is a waste of time as a good “hedge” because you need a war for it to go up, and as a result, 1% of your portfolio is up while the rest is down.
So who is right? It depends.
Before we continue, let us understand and accept the assumptions, biases and context for this article. I have purchased both gold and cryptocurrency assets and I am impartial to both. This article was written from the aspect of the common folks (the average joe/jane, not some financial guru/expert or seasoned investor or trader) in Singapore, though some of the content might relate to overseas audiences. The article written here are based on my personal thoughts and opinions, they do not constitute or meant to be used as financial advice.
Where to buy gold in Singapore?
Let us briefly look at some options to purchase gold in Singapore.
Jewellery / Physical Gold (Retail) The most accessible option. You can head into any jewellery or pawn shop to buy them but do note that not all jewellery are in the form of pure gold. Jewellery might be more expensive than gold bar or coins due to the additional craftsmanship charges. For pure physical gold, you can walk into a gold retailer to buy gold bars or bullion coins. While you can hold it physically in your hands and admire them, you have to consider where to keep it safely.
Gold Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Instead of buying physical gold and have a headache over storage and security concerns, you can invest in gold through an ETF that owns, holds and derives its value from holding physical gold. ETFs, like STI ETF or S&P500, have been providing cost-efficient investment solution for the average person. You can consider SPDR Gold Share ETF that is listed on the SGX. You will need a brokerage and a CDP account as a pre-requisite though.
Gold Savings Account “Eh? Got this kind of things meh?” Yes, but unlike regular savings account, no interest are given out. It offers an easier way to buy and sell gold without worrying about storage and security issues. UOB provides such services but it comes with extra charges. I would recommend using HugoSave. It is much easier and cheaper to use as compared to UOB. You can check out my experience with HugoSave via the links at the bottom of this article.
Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin? Oh no no no, not this 😀 We are not referring to that digital “gold” but cryptocurrencies pegged to commodities. Similar to stablecoins where 1 coin is peg to 1 US dollar, 1 PAX Gold – PAXG token is backed by one fine troy ounce (t oz) of a 400 oz London Good Delivery gold bar, stored in Brink’s vaults. If you own PAXG, you own the underlying physical gold, held in custody by Paxos Trust Company. So if you are already knee deep in crypto land, this can be another option for you.
But what makes this option interesting is that if you hold it in either Crypto.com or Gemini, you can park it under their Earn feature to earn interest (starting from 0.5% APY at this time of writing). This is something that is not possible for the above options, but it is more risky.
Gold is a precious metal that has been around for centuries and is universally accepted as an alternative to money. Besides its role as an investment, it is also a raw metal for electronic products such as computer processors. Some people believe it to be a good hedge against inflation. Gold is a tangible asset which you can own physically as compared to stocks, bonds or Bitcoin. It is global accepted and recognized, you can use it anywhere. And it looks really nice and shiny.
Why not gold?
Long term returns tend to be poor, and safely storing physical gold can be difficult. It will not provide a steady source of income like dividend stocks. If you own a gold bar for 30 years, you still own the same gold bar. It might be more “expensive” as compared to 30 years ago but that is because the value of the dollar has gotten smaller. If you own a company stock for 30 years, there is a chance that it will worth X times more. In a way, you are losing out the opportunity to make more money if you bought gold instead of Apple stocks. Contrary to popular beliefs, some people think it is not a good hedge against inflation.
Let’s have a very simplistic assumption here. Imagine we are in stagflation, war is raging in Europe and there are food supply shortages. No one knows when good days are coming.
Assume that we have Portfolio A which has 5% Gold and Portfolio B which has 5% Bitcoin. None of the portfolios have both Gold and Bitcoin. Both portfolio have equal ratio of Cash, Stocks and Bonds. Here are some questions to ask for each of the scenarios listed below.
Scenario #1 – Something happened and you need a lot of cash urgently
Would having gold in Portfolio A give you more options and flexibility in liquidity?
Are you fine with selling your stocks or Bitcoin that are in the red, at a loss in Portfolio B?
Are you really comfortable in doing the above to get the cash?
Scenario #2 – The stock or cryptocurrency that you have conviction is at a good price
Would having gold in Portfolio A give you more options/confidence to buy the dip?
Are you fine with selling your stocks (at loss) or using cash in Portfolio B to buy the dip?
Are you really comfortable in doing the above, not knowing how long this will go on?
Scenario #3 – Fiat/Cash is basically worthless
Would having gold in Portfolio A give you more confidence in making it out alive?
Would having Bitcoin in Portfolio B give you more confidence in making it out alive?
Would having both Gold and Bitcoin be better in this scenario?
Yes, or No to Gold? That is the question.
It really depends on what you want, your goals, and your risk appetite. I think the most important thing is to know what you are doing and your expectations. For some people, it is alright not to have gold in their portfolio while others prefer some form of security. There are no right or wrong answers, just what matters for the individual.
To me, the role of gold in my portfolio is not to generate revenue for me but to serve as an insurance, especially in an emergency. I have never expect investing in gold is going to make me rich and I think it is unrealistic to assume that. So far, I have not heard anyone who got rich by from gold investment alone. Instead, those millionaires or billionaires made their riches, then they buy gold as an “investment”. If you think deeper, do you really think that they do it to increase their wealth, or does it not seem like buying insurance instead? Food for though huh.
My opinion on gold is that it is often a better hedge against a crisis than against inflation. History has proven that gold prices tend to rise in times of crisis.
But is that the only question?
What if, god forbids, war has arrived at our shores or we are at the receiving end of sanctions? In this case, gold is only useful if you have it physically. However, you will have to deal with the issue of carrying it around and safeguarding it. The Ukraine war has shown that cryptocurrencies have a place in our modern world and it is a viable option as a currency/asset. The caveat is that this will work only if cryptocurrencies are decentralized in nature (i.e. Bitcoin). No, your coins and tokens in centralized exchanges don’t count. What matters if you can use them in offline wallets (i.e. Ledger) for day-to-day transactions that can keep your life going.
Many people tend to compare or associate Bitcoin as gold or technology stocks. It is too early to give judgement and very much unfair to limit their potential. Bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrencies are still at their infancies and are trying to figure out where they fit in our world. They have the potential to be an unique asset class, something that we are unable to visualize or understand for now.
At the end of the day, gold and cryptocurrencies are just tools for us to use, you have to decide which works to your best advantage.
Join Doufu in his noob journey into the cryptocurrency rabbit hole. Experience the excitement, the angst, the fear, the greed and most importantly, the lessons learnt. We start off with the usual disclaimer that I am not a financial advisor nor am I giving financial advice. I am just sharing my experiences, thoughts and opinions for entertainment purposes. Always remember to DYOR (Do Your Own Research)!
In this post, part one of the “Crypto Noob Doufu” series, we look at how it all started. What I did not do back then and how I jumped on the bandwagon later. Hop on and enjoy the trip down the memory lane.
I first heard of Bitcoin back in 2013 through an internet article. It seems to be some sort of thought experiment to me that was pretty novel and it caught my attention. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much information (at least for a beginner), and especially Bitcoin in those days was pretty much under the radar. I saw the potential in blockchain technology and wanted to be part of it, even though there wasn’t a real life use case for it – yet. The idea of using it as a replacement for fiat and as a global currency was revolutionary but I knew it wasn’t realistic and practical. That is a story for another day. Further research didn’t gather much steam and it seems that you have to own a bitcoin to get started. There wasn’t any exchange or places that I could easy get or purchase a Bitcoin and hence, in the end I gave up.
Fast forward to late 2019, my brother re-introduced me to the world of crypto “investment” after recommending me to sign up for a Crypto.com account. Back then, I didn’t sign up due to some issues. First, they had stopped all new sign ups in Singapore to comply with the local laws and regulations. Second, there were problems with the KYC (Know your customer) approval process. Opportunities wait for no one and I decided not to wait. I jumped on the crypto bandwagon with Coinhako.
“Investment” funds started flowing into the Coinhako account in early 2020. To be honest, it was more like gambling than investment. I had not a single clue on what I am buying or doing. The first crypto asset I bought was Bitcoin (BTC), this was pretty much a no brainer. The second one, of course, Ethereum (ETH). Next stop were the altcoins, Polkadot (DOT) and Ripple XRP. I didn’t spend a lot of money, because I didn’t have much – unfortunately – hard truths. In total, I pumped in about 600 dollars in fiat throughout the whole of 2020. This portfolio bagged a 2x increase which I liquidated before the end of 2020, thanks to the volatility and fed’s money printing adventures.
2022 was quite the opposite of 2021. I took a hiatus due to the events in the family and work. When things had settled down a little with some pocket of breathing space, it was already somewhere Q3 of 2021. The period of easy money was replaced by learning things the hard way. The highlight of the year was DYOR (Do your own research). I finally got my CDC (Crypto dot com) account running and it took quite a while to understand how the whole thing/ecosystem worked, and yes, paid quite a bit of “learning fees” in the process. It was then I realized this was different from 2020. I was more rational back then and in 2021, I totally FOMO-ed. I have fallen into the rabbit hole and I can’t get out.
I had also created a Gemini account in order to get my BAT (Basic Attention Token) coins from Brave browser. How it works is Brave browser will serve you advertisements (which you have to enable, it is not turned on by default), and they will pay you in their native token (BAT). You can then use these tokens to tip other content creators that you want to support. However, to cash out the value of these tokens to fiat money, you will need to accumulate a minimum amount of token and sign up and link your account either with Uphold or Gemini.
So far, my “investment” in crypto has been in the red by at least 50%, which is no difference from my china tech stocks holdings, but it has been a learning experience which I should have learnt 10 years ago. Better late than never. Hence, the reason for this series, to share my journey, thoughts and experiences so that no one would make the same mistake as I had. Feel free to leave comments to share your thoughts and experience too.
Once again, please be reminded that these are my own opinions and are not financial advice. I am not a qualified licensed financial advisor. And I will not be liable for any damage or losses arising from usage of these information. Please do your own research. If you are interested in signing up for a crypto exchange account, you can use my referral links below.