Singapore welcomes crypto but will come down hard on ‘bad behavior’

MAS crypto but watch it
Image by TK Kurikawa | Bigstockphoto

As Singapore continues to open up to crypto and blockchain innovation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is sending a clear message to those looking to take advantage of the situation: we will come down on you hard if you try any funny business.

MAS recently welcomed a center of excellence (COE) focused on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) inspired by crypto, established by the Mojaloop Foundation. The city-state’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is an investor in Mojaloop, and MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty serves as a board advisor.

For Mohanty, the COE and Foundation represent “a step forward into the future of financial services” and he looks forward to MAS supporting the COE’s efforts to drive increased collaboration in cross-border transactions.

However, in an interview with The Financial Times, he also warned that Singapore will not tolerate any “market bad behavior” and those found guilty can expect to be dealt with severely.

Mohanty also responded to critics who labeled Singapore as not being friendly to cryptocurrencies. He pointed out that such a stance is only to be expected given that MAS’ primary focus is on the real economy and not “some unreal economy.”

Furthermore, he mentioned the possibility of a state-backed alternative to crypto, pointing to the recent stablecoin meltdown as an example of the market instability caused by private cryptocurrencies. As far as Singapore is concerned, Mojaloop and similar efforts are more to its liking, and Mohanty thinks that digital currency will eventually be incorporated into the platform and made available to other central banks.

And despite regulators doubling down on their efforts to control and monitor the crypto industry in Singapore, the city-state remains one of the most attractive places for blockchain and crypto companies to set up shop.

This is due to a number of factors, including its highly developed infrastructure, low taxes, and pro-business environment. The city-state is also home to a large number of financial institutions and investors, which provides a ready market for new products and services.

In addition to the COE, crypto players are also celebrating the recent in-principle approvals by MAS for digital payment token (DPT) licenses, which allow companies to offer crypto services.

Following his statements, Mohanty praised the leaders of well-known crypto players like Binance, Ripple, and in a LinkedIn post, and said they are creating “real-economy opportunities.”

“Web 3.0/Crypto is a very nascent industry, but the promises have run ahead of the technology maturity, the industry is filled with speculators and scammers, and magical soundbites with clickbait headlines are filling the space. So let’s not create a forced error and throw the baby out with the bathwater. I was thinking about how to represent this pictorially, so I took a random pic at the airport,” he added.

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