A triple-A rated investment company owned by the government of Singapore has been "experimenting" with bitcoin, according to a report in Today Online.
Temasek Holdings has a $172bn portfolio and had a net income of $12.1bn in 2013. According to the news report, the firm launched its first office in New York City yesterday, throwing a lavish party and promising that it will "seize opportunities in the entire American continent".
The most surprising part of the launch came in Chairman Lim Boon Heng's speech, in which he said the company had recently conducted a company-wide "bitcoin experiment", with all staff at the company – over 400 people from drivers to board members – taking part.
The experiment involved everyone getting their own bitcoin wallet and practicing by using it to donate to charity, Mr. Lim said.
While Temasek itself has not announced any large-scale plans to invest in bitcoin businesses as yet, the staff experiment, and its high-profile mention by the chairman, is significant in that it tacitly endorses the technology.
Several elements within other large banks and financial institutions are known to be interested in cryptocurrency and keen to invest in bitcoin companies, but none have admitted it openly and most still balk at any mention of their name in the same sentence as 'bitcoin'.
About the company
As a government-owned investment firm, Temasek Holdings is hardly radical in its investment choices or behavior, although 'forward-looking' is part of its official charter and it invests heavily in areas like telecommunications and technology, industrials and life sciences. Its total portfolio covers almost the entire economic spectrum.
Temasek is often referred to as a 'sovereign wealth fund', but is never referred to as such by its government owner, despite being listed in Singapore's constitution. Described on its website simply as "an investment company based in Singapore", the 40-year-old company behaves more like a private firm, paying taxes and distributing dividends.
It is also one of the few companies in the world to have a corporate credit rating of AAA from Standard & Poor's and Aaa from Moody's, ratings it has held for 10 years.