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Gemini pivots to Asia as US regulators take aim at digital currency exchanges

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The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, had a famous ‘pivot to Asia’ policy that involved deeper economic, diplomatic, and security ties with the region, with mixed success.

Now, it seems that digital currency exchange Gemini is implementing a similar strategy, albeit from a business perspective. In a statement, Gemini CTO Pravjit Tiwana announced the firm is in the process of opening what will be its second-largest engineering hub in Gurgaon, India.

Tiwana has been appointed CEO of Gemini Asia Pacific in addition to his role as CTO. He called his country a “hotbed for bar-raising technology talent.”

Gemini also announced it would be expanding its Indian and Singaporean teams as it focuses on both institutional and individual clients in Asia-Pacific.

What is Gemini’s Asia pivot all about?

With a move like this, it’s clear that Asia-Pacific will be a big focus for Gemini going forward. The Winklevoss Twins, who founded the company in 2015, said the firm has “big plans for international growth this year in APAC.”

What’s the thinking behind this strategy? It’s likely a combination of factors, including a massive market opportunity and increasing regulatory crackdowns in Gemini’s home country, the United States, as well as in other markets like the European Union.

At home, Gemini is under legal scrutiny, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charging it with the unregistered sale of ‘crypto asset’ securities amidst its high-profile legal dust-up with Digital Currency Group (DCG)-owned Genesis Global Capital, LLC. The charges were specifically linked to the Gemini Earn lending program.

The SEC’s official statement on the matter said both firms had “raised billions of dollars worth of crypto assets from hundreds of thousands of investors.”

Given all of this, it’s likely that Gemini is seeking greener pastures in other parts of the world, but it won’t find an easy touch in India. The South Asian economic powerhouse has been one of the strictest when it comes to digital currency rules, going as far as banning trading at one point, only lifting the ban in 2020 after the Supreme Court overturned the central bank’s initial decision.

While a developing nation like India will likely welcome the jobs and investment Gemini’s new hub brings, the firm will need to keep its nose clean and comply with Indian digital currency regulations; it’s currently contemplating teaming up with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Financial Stability Board (FSB) to develop balanced rules, sidelining its plans to issue a blanket ban for now.

Will Gemini’s Asia pivot be successful? Time will tell, but in any case, there’s no escaping the fact that regulations to protect consumers are being developed everywhere, securities laws are being enforced across the globe, and there’s no place to run from any of this.

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