Will Singapore lose its position as the largest crypto hub in Asia?

Singapore is often considered a major cryptocurrency hub in Asia, due to its position as a financial hub, its flawless governance reputation and strict rule of law. However, the situation seems to have evolved over the past few years as the country’s central bank and financial regulator, andMonetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), increasingly stringent measures to regulate the crypto sector.

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Announcing the creation of a regulatory framework called “Digital Payment Code License“It was the country that first stirred up the cryptocurrency industry. But the players in this sector soon faced many difficulties: in fact, at the end of 2021, out of a hundred companies that applied for a license to provide services related to crypto-assets from MAS, only five had obtained On the required permissions. It should be noted that the big names in the crypto sector are absent from the list (Queen PieceAnd Twins…). for BinanceThe exchange made a strategic shift by winding down its operations as an exchange and refocusing around the blockchain innovation hub.

Subsequently, last January MAS published a document titled “Guidelines to discourage cryptocurrency trading by the general public(Guidelines intended to discourage the trading of cryptocurrencies by the general public), it states that while it strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative use cases for cryptocurrency, “trading is a risky activity that is not suitable for the general public.”

In the same year, bill “Financial Services and Market InvoiceApproved in April:

  • grants new powers to the MAS, which may prevent persons deemed unfit to perform key roles, functions and activities from working in the areas of payments and risk management;
  • It raises the maximum penalty that can be imposed on financial institutions that disrupt their services to 1 million Singapore dollars (738,000 US dollars).

MAS now has one of the most stringent digital asset service provider licensing processes in Asia, along with Japan.

“This should be because we want to be a responsible global cryptocurrency center with innovative players, but also strong risk management capabilities,” said the central bank CEO. Ravi Menonduring the Financial Times Crypto and Digital Asset Summit.

Mr. Menon explained that MAS conducts background checks on applicants and checks whether they have strong corporate governance structures. They should also be aware of the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing: according to him, while crypto assets do not currently pose a threat to the financial system, there are risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.

Patrick ChewFounder AP CapitalIt is difficult to meet the requirements for obtaining a license: for example, one of the requirements of KYC/AML is face-to-face examination, which is not within the reach of all companies. It is also required that cryptocurrencies be traded only in a network of wallets licensed in the country.

However, Singapore undoubtedly wants to continue expanding in the crypto sector, while maintaining control over it. MAS’s participation in the Dunbar project developed by him Bank for International SettlementsIn cooperation with Reserve Bank of AustraliaThe Bank Negara Malaysia and the South African Reserve Bank, is an example of the direction Singapore wants to go. The Dunbar project focused on implementing a platform that could enable international settlements using digital currencies issued by several central banks. The platform is designed to facilitate direct cross-border transactions between financial institutions in different currencies, with the potential to reduce costs and increase speed.

It is still difficult to determine the future of the crypto sector in Singapore. What is certain, by public opinion, is that decentralized finance (DeFi) in its current form will not be able to develop in Singapore if digital assets cannot leave whitelisted wallets. Moreover, with Bitcoin ATMs being banned, using crypto assets becomes more and more complicated. Singapore will have a lot to do to continue attracting crypto investors to the country.

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