Singapore regulator's crackdown on cryptocurrency is "brutal and unrelentingly severe"

The central bank and financial watchdog of Singapore have vowed to crack down “brutally and unrelentingly hard” on any “bad conduct” from the cryptocurrency sector.

The city-state may no longer be seen as one of the world’s most crypto-friendly nations as a result of the chief fintech officer of the regulator’s comments.

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Sopnendu Mohanty, the chief fintech officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said in an interview that “if anybody has done a negative thing, we are merciless and unrelentingly severe.”

Additionally, he responded to claims made by certain players in the cryptocurrency market that the regulator was not supportive enough of cryptocurrencies and instead cast doubt on the industry’s viability, saying:

Many cryptocurrencies have criticized us for not being nice, to which I have responded, “Friendly for what?” Friendly to a genuine economy or to a fictitious one?

The head of fintech thinks the larger financial upheaval is brought on by a world “lost in private cash.” In reaction to the regulator’s cautious attitude toward cryptocurrencies, the city-state instituted a “incredibly strict” and “painfully delayed” due diligence procedure for licensing crypto firms, according to Mohanty.

Singapore began licensing for cryptocurrency businesses in January 2020 and has strict criteria for approving organizations for a license. The MAS reportedly rejected over 100 licensing requests from firms in December 2022, according to CryptoN World Space.

In January, bitcoin service providers were prohibited from marketing their products in public spaces, including public transit, public websites, print, broadcast, and social media.

The Malaysian Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Agency (MAS) is expanding its ability to police cryptocurrency businesses as well. In April, the regulator passed new rules requiring businesses to obtain licenses and be subject to AML/CFT regulations if they wanted to offer services outside of Malaysia.

Due to Singapore’s low taxation and reputation as one of the most crypto-friendly city-states, several cryptocurrencies were established there. However, regulatory tightening shows that is changing as the nation concentrates on its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

The Mojaloop Foundation, a provider of payment solutions, launched a CBDC Center of Excellence (COE) in Singapore on June 21. Mohanty serves as a board adviser and MAS is a member of the working group.

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A state-backed alternative cryptocurrency might be introduced within three years of the COE’s establishment, according to Mohanty.

Mohanty hailed the COE as a “step ahead towards the future of financial services” since it aims to lower the costs and inefficiencies of payment platforms and cross-border payments.

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