Singapore allows global cryptocurrency firms to expand local operations

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency & electronic finance

Singapore is introducing new payments legislation that offers global cryptocurrency firms a chance to expand their operations in the country by applying for operating licenses for the first time.

The Payment Services Act, which comes into force Tuesday, is the first comprehensive regulation for companies handling activities ranging from digital payments to trading of tokens such as Bitcoin and Ether. As well as bringing crypto firms into the regulatory fold, the law will hand the Monetary Authority of Singapore formal supervisory powers for cybersecurity risks and controls on money laundering and terrorism financing.

The measure narrows the gap with Japan, currently a major Asian center for cryptocurrency trading after 22 exchanges received licenses there since 2017. Increased investor interest in digital tokens has encouraged several regulators around the world to bring the venues under their scrutiny, especially for money laundering and other illicit activities.

The key advantage of Singapore’s new legislation is providing regulatory clarity on new types of payments activities such as e-wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to Nizam Ismail, the founder and chief executive officer of Ethikom Consultancy, which helps potential applicants with licensing and compliance issues.

Read how Singapore is seeking a level playing field in digital services

Tokyo-based crypto exchange operator Liquid Group Inc. and London-based Luno, which already operate in Singapore, are among the firms planning to apply for the licenses. “We welcome the Act with open arms,” said Liquid’s CEO Mike Kayamori. The firm will apply via its local Quoine Pte subsidiary.

The legislation “provides regulatory certainty to industry players but, more importantly, it provides consumers with a clear sense of the players they can trust,” said Luno’s Singapore general manager Sherry Goh. Luno obtained an operating license in Malaysia last year.

Twenty of the top 50 crypto exchanges are based in the Asia-Pacific region and accounted for about 40% of Bitcoin transactions in the first half of last year, according to Chainalysis data.

Binance Holdings Ltd., operator of one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, has an office in Singapore and is backed by Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd., the venture capital arm of Singapore-based Temasek Holdings Pte. Kathy Zhu, a Binance spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether the firm will seek a Singapore license.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.