MAS: Singapore still wants to be a crypto hub

Simar Marwaha
Simar Marwaha

Updated on January 10, 2023 02:14 PM

Published on December 23, 2022 06:29 PM

Globally speaking, Singapore has set the standard for cryptocurrency legislation. This article is all about understanding Singapore's regulatory system, which is critical.

MAS: Singapore still wants to be a crypto hub
Source: Unsplash

The Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) managing director, Ravi Menon, stated that Singapore still wants to be a centre for digital assets but not one for  cryptocurrency speculation. Global authorities have had to walk a delicate line in recent years as they try to control digital assets without strangling innovation, despite the fact that technology is developing at the pace of the internet. 

This has never been more true than in Singapore, where regulatory authorities have worked to establish a framework for digital assets aimed at fostering an environment that is welcoming to cryptocurrency businesses while vigorously safeguarding consumer interests and reducing the likelihood of money laundering and other illegal activity. Strong advertising and AML regulation have been prompted by this.

Although it has been tightening down on the business after many ordinary investors lost their whole life savings to cryptocurrency trading, Singapore has plans to become a worldwide centre for cryptocurrencies. Due to its volatile and speculative character, the city-state has frequently cautioned that cryptocurrency trading is "extremely dangerous and not fit for the general public."

In January 2021, it even outlawed cryptocurrency advertising in public spaces and on social media. More recently, in response to Terra's Luna's $60 billion collapse, it suggested additional regulations to safeguard ordinary investors.

However, Singapore has publicly expressed its support for blockchain technology and has started a number of initiatives. Among them is Project Ubin, which completed its blockchain trial successfully for the clearing and settlement of securities and payments.

Also read: Indian CBDC Launch Update

Is Singapore a new crypto hub?

Numerous observers are keeping a close eye on one development: Singapore's efforts to establish itself as a centre for the turbulent world of cryptocurrencies. Singapore has a more open, albeit cautious, stance toward cryptocurrency trade and mining than China, which has adopted a severe stance. Although it has several laws in place to safeguard small-scale investors when purchasing digital currency, it hasn't outright forbidden trading in cryptocurrencies.

Singapore's Payment Services Act, which provides a framework for regulating everything from trading cryptocurrencies to utilising tokens for payments, went into force in January 2020. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), in accordance with the legislation, grants digital payment token licences to successful crypto firms. Additionally, Singapore expanded the licence requirement in April to include local virtual asset service providers that exclusively conduct business abroad.

A financial sector-wide regulation of financial services and markets, the exercise of control over, the resolution of, and the licencing of financial institutions and their related entities are all covered by this act, which was passed by the President with the advice and consent of the Parliament of Singapore.

MAS has just started a global programme that involves cross-border currency exchange and settlement utilising wholesale central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

The project will research governance and business models that allow for atomic settlement, create standards to enable atomic settlement across platforms, and give policy direction for the international growth of digital currency infrastructure. This blockchain-based multi-currency payments network, known as Ubin+, is an expansion of Project Ubin, which the authority unveiled in 2016.

In order to investigate the exchange and settlement of wholesale CBDCs with an automated market maker, MAS is also collaborating with the central banks of France and Switzerland as well as the Innovation Hub of the Bank of International Settlements, according to Menon.

Instead of using a traditional market of buyers and sellers, automated market makers trade with liquidity pools automatically using algorithms.

In order to facilitate fast cross-border payment and settlement across digital ledger-based systems and current payment infrastructure, MAS is also collaborating with the financial messaging system Swift to investigate various interoperability models.

Consumer protection

Singapore wants to develop into a major centre for cryptocurrencies. It intends to draw the proper kinds of businesses by taking its time to establish a solid regulatory structure and basis for cryptocurrency providers. Since cryptocurrency trading is not for the faint of heart, Singapore does not want to expose itself or its residents to risk by permitting less ethical providers to conduct business there.

Although Singapore has already established itself as a favoured location for blockchain and cryptocurrency enterprises, the city-financial state's authority is being cautious due to huge price swings and sell-offs.

The new rule may lessen Singapore's appeal as a hub for cryptocurrencies, but it may also increase the legitimacy of those participants who choose to stay there because of the higher legal standards and MAS scrutiny they would face.

The MAS released rules earlier this year stating that cryptocurrency service providers should not advertise their offerings to the general public. Additionally, the financial watchdog turned down requests from more than 100 cryptocurrency companies that wanted to open offices in Singapore. The message is clear: they only want reputable crypto service providers there.

The advertising prohibition forbids the placement of advertisements on websites, social media, public transportation, and retail centres. Singapore wants to grow the digital asset market, but it is also investigating alternative ways to safeguard consumers. Although it is a delicate balancing act, the financial centre can pull it off.

Singapore-Crypto FAQs

Which crypto platform is best in Singapore?

If you want to maximise trading your cryptocurrency with reasonably low costs, an easy-to-understand expert user interface, and the ability to easily acquire using Singapore dollars, Gemini is now the finest cryptocurrency exchange.

Is Singapore against crypto?

To lessen risks to consumers from the market's volatility, Singapore is trying to restrict access to cryptocurrency trading for individual investors. It recently outlined plans to limit consumer access to digital assets, including a restriction on small investors borrowing money to buy coins.

Does Singapore pay crypto tax?

Accordingly, regardless of whether you make money by selling or trading your cryptocurrency, you won't have to pay taxes on the gains made. Singapore is now one of the nations that do not tax cryptocurrency. The Singaporean government sees cryptocurrencies as intangible assets as well.

Can foreigners buy crypto in Singapore?

Cryptocurrencies are lawful as property even if the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) does not regulate them because they are not considered legal money. Since cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and others fall under the category of property, purchasing them via Bitcoin ATMs, exchanges, and even some institutions is lawful in Singapore.

Is Singapore a crypto hub?

Due to cryptocurrencies' volatile and speculative character, Singapore has not been favourable toward them despite its desire to become a major worldwide centre for the sector.

Are NFTs legal in Singapore?

In its first written decision regarding a non-fungible token (NFT), the Singapore High Court decided that NFTs can be regarded as property. NFTs are tokens that are kept on blockchains, which are decentralised digital ledgers.


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