Hodlnaut is a Singapore-based cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platform that lost 69% of the cryptocurrencies that users deposited onto the platform.

Hodlnaut
TypeCryptocurrency
Founded2019[1]
Founders
Headquarters
Key people
Juntao, Zhu (CEO)
Products
Number of employees
40+[2] previously~10 as of August 19, 2022
Websitewww.hodlnaut.com

Co-founded by Juntao Zhu and Simon Lee in 2019, it is advertised as a platform that allows users to earn interest on cryptocurrencies that they deposit through those funds being safely lent out to carefully selected institutions.[3] On 8 August, it disabled the ability of users to withdraw their cryptocurrencies from the platform citing market conditions, however it later became known that Hodlnaut had actually been holding virtually all of its users' deposited funds in the TerraUSD stablecoin which had collapsed in May leading to the massive loss of users funds. The collapse of TerraUSD has similarly lead to the bankruptcy of hedgefund Three Arrows Capital and lender Celsius Network. The company has applied for Judicial Management.

HistoryEdit

CEO Juntao Zhu has previously worked with Credit Suisse before co-founding Hodlnaut with Simon Lee (CTO and co-founder of Hodlnaut).[4] ​​Hodlnaut is a portfolio company of Antler – a global VC firm that backs early-stage startups.[5]

On February 3, 2021, Crowe Singapore performed an independent verification exercise to validate US$106 million in crypto assets held by Hodlnaut.[6]

On March 15, 2022, Hodlnaut secured an In-Principle Approval for their Token Swap service from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a Major Payment Institution License.[7]

Once all conditions would have been met, both Digital Treasures Center (DTC) and Hodlnaut would have been able to provide cryptocurrency services in Singapore under the Payment Services Act.[8]

CollapseEdit

In May 2022, the algorithmic US Dollar-stablecoin known as TerraUSD or UST, started to fail in holding its 1:1 peg with the US Dollar. UST, which is native to the Terra Blockchain, was a very popular coin up until that point due to the availability of Anchor Protocol, a decentralized application on the Terra Blockchain that allowed UST to be allocated to the protocol and receive interest at a rate of ~20% on a yearly basis. As it turns out, Hodlnaut had been allocating a significant amount of user-deposited crypto onto the Terra blockchain, to take advantage of this opportunity. They did not disclose, and allegedly denied, involvement in activities on the Terra blockchain beyond the UST deposited by users themselves. Following the collapse of UST, the stake that Hodlnaut held in the coin lost a majority of its value and Hodlnaut became insolvent to its users. Hodlnaut allowed users to continue to deposit and withdraw crypto to the platform as per usual.[9]

On July 14 the Singapore Police Force demanded that Hodlnaut transfer the remaining assets that were left to them,[10] this was not revealed to the users of the platform, deposits and withdrawals remained active as per usual.

On August 8, 2022, Hodlnaut suspended all withdrawal functionality from user accounts citing 'recent market conditions', and withdrew their application with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.[11]

Around August 16, 2022, Hodlnaut revealed filing an application with the local high court to be placed under judicial management. They "nominated Tam Chee Chong, director at Kairos Corporate Advisory, to serve as interim judicial manager." The application protects the company from legal proceedings.[12] Sam Trade and S.A.M Fintech countered the proposal of Tam Chee Chongs nomination with their own picks, members of Grant Thornton accounting: Rajagopalan Seshadri, Paresh Jotangia and Ho May Kee. The interim judicial management hearing will take place on the 26th of August.[10]

On August 19, 2022, Hodlnaut revealed proceedings with Singapore Police and that it had culled 40 employees amounting to 80% [10] of what they previously had before the culling. At this date Hodlnaut also officially revealed having been involved in the terra blockchain, however, cited it as only one of the reasons that Hodlnaut has become insolvent, alongside the decrease in the price of cryptocurrencies overall and large amounts of user withdrawals.[13]

On its blog post of the same date, Hodlnaut revealed that as of August 8, it was down 69 cents to the dollar, owing a total of S$391M (~$281M) to the users of its platform and having only S$122M ($88M) remaining. It turns out that Hodlnaut had converted $317M of user deposited funds (almost everything) into the algorithmic US Dollar stablecoin, TerraUSD, and placed it in decentralised application Anchor Protocol. When the TerraUSD algorithm failed and allowed the price of TerraUSD to slide from $1 to ~$0.02, the funds were converted out of TerraUSD, but by the time the funds were converted, $189.7M of the value (a majority) was gone.[14][15]

Hodlnaut laid off many good, hard-working staff due to their utter ineptitude.

The judicial management application will be heard on August 30.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "HODLNAUT PTE. LTD". StartupSG. Retrieved 17 Jan 2022.
  2. ^ "Hodlnaut". Linkedin. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  3. ^ Ahmad, Samreen. "SG crypto firm bags license for additional payment services". techinasia.com. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
  4. ^ "Founders Series, Juntao Zhu - Co-Founder and CEO of Hodlnaut | Antler". www.antler.co. 2022-01-06. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  5. ^ Akhaya, Prisca (2022-07-04). "Antler pours US$2.4M into its second batch of 17 startups | e27". e27. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  6. ^ "Crowe Singapore Validates US$106 Million in Crypto Assets Held by Hodlnaut | Crowe Singapore". www.crowe.com. 2021-02-03. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  7. ^ Cher, Benjamin (2022-03-15). "Crypto platform Hodlnaut gets MAS nod for Major Payment Institution licence | The Business Times". www.businesstimes.com.sg. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  8. ^ Chern, Kang Wan (2022-03-16). "2 more firms get MAS approval to offer crypto payment services in S'pore | The Straits Times". www.straitstimes.com. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  9. ^ Sri, Deepti (18 July 2022). "Hodlnaut denies losses on UST but questions remain". TechInAsia.com. Tech in Asia. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d Huang, Claire (23 August 2022). "Crypto lender Hodlnaut fights Singapore police order as it faces opposition to judicial manager candidate". Singapore. The Straits Times. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  11. ^ Lu, Yiwen (9 August 2022). "Hodlnaut becomes the latest crypto lender to block withdrawals". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  12. ^ Sri, Deepti (16 August 2022). "SG crypto exchange Hodlnaut files for protection from creditors". TechInAsia.com. Tech in Asia. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  13. ^ Ossinger, Joanna (19 August 2022). "Crypto Firm Hodlnaut Reveals Singapore Police Proceedings". Bloomberg. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  14. ^ Taufik, Shadine (23 August 2022). "Hodlnaut discloses $280m in outstanding liability after crypto dip". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  15. ^ Qin, Ningwei (23 August 2022). "Hodlnaut owes US$200 mln debt to 17,000 creditors: report". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved 23 August 2022.