On December 21, 2017, cryptocurrency firm and mining company Ducatus opened the doors of the new cashless, cryptocurrency-accepting Ducatus Café in Singapore, where, according to their Facebook page, “Cafe life meshes with the Crypto life.” Ducatus said its café is the first of its kind in Singapore and unique in that it is owned and operated by a crypto-company accepting its own coin.
The opening of the café was marked by a traditional lion dance performance. It is located at Oxley Tower on Robinson Road, close to Singapore’s central bank. Customers can buy drinks, light meals, and body products with bitcoin, Ducatus coins, credit cards and NETS (direct debit from a bank account), but not cash. It has its own bitcoin ATM and plans to accept additional cryptocurrencies for payments as well eventually. The Ducatus coin launched in January 2017 and is now worth about $0.13 SGD (about $0.10).
“Right now, cryptocurrencies are mostly used for speculation on markets. We want to make it part of our daily life,” Ducatus CEO Ronny Tome said.
Just a few days before the café launched, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) released a public statement cautioning the public “against investments in cryptocurrencies,” citing concerns about the recent rise in the price of bitcoin and lack of regulatory safeguards. While Tome supports the government’s desire to educate its citizens, he does not see the warning as a problem for his business.
“We just want to make sure people understand that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The way technology develops and grows right now; there is no doubt about that. Developments are rapid, and the governments maybe have a little bit of an issue to follow through,” Tome stated. A second branch of the Ducatus café is reportedly opening in Bali, and Tome plans to launch more and find partners in the travel and hotel industries.
While MAS has released warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrencies, it also recognizes their value along with the usefulness of blockchain technology. “If Singapore is to maintain its position as one of the top financial centers in the world, it must embrace fintech… maximizing its benefits, minimizing its risks,” MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon said at the 2017 Singapore FinTech Festival, held in November. MAS has allocated about $165 million for fintech development during the next five years and has launched a study into how blockchain can be used to create cross-border interbank payments.
Ducatus Café in Singapore offers gourmet coffee, organic tea, traditional kopi (a local style of coffee) and teh (hot milk tea). Customers can buy sandwiches, salads, wraps, and yogurt parfait along with other light fares. The business also offers its own line of skin, body care, and hair products. Prepackaged nuts, tea, and coffee are for sale. The company aims to use sustainably sourced items and much of the packaging is made of paper or eco-friendly rice husk.
Singapore Ducatus Café was not the only business in Singapore betting on the growing popularity of bitcoin in late 2017; Skyline, the first club in Singapore to accept digital currency, offered a luxury New Year’s Eve package that could only be paid for with one bitcoin, around $13,000 at the time.