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Singapore Monetary Authority Restricting Crypto Ads From General Public

2 mins
Updated by Ryan Boltman
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In Brief

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued guidelines limiting the promotion of cryptocurrency trading service providers to the general public.
  • Its efforts to create a clear regulatory and operating environment, including a formal licensing framework, have drawn crypto companies from around the world.
  • However, authorities are still trying to balance the benefits that come with financial innovation with the risks posed to retail traders by the volatile virtual assets.
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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued guidelines limiting the promotion of cryptocurrency trading service providers to the general public. 

“MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases,” said MAS Assistant Managing Director (Policy, Payments and Financial Crime) Loo Siew Yee. “But the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public.” 

Consequently, service providers for digital payment tokens (DPT) have been instructed to “not portray the trading of DPTs in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading in DPTs, nor engage in marketing activities that target the general public.” 

To preclude exposure to the general public, the guidelines also clarified that DPT services should not be promoted in public areas or through third-party engagement, such as social media influencers. These services may now only be advertised through their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.

Crypto in Singapore

Singapore has been working to position itself as a global hub for the development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Last year, MAS Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam said  “there may be a role for crypto in future finance that extends beyond pure speculation and illicit finance.” 

Its efforts to create a clear regulatory and operating environment, including a formal licensing framework, have drawn crypto companies from around the world. Crypto companies have been able to apply for operating licenses under the Payment Services Act in Singapore since January 2020. While almost 20% of applications have been withdrawn or rejected for not meeting AML standards, many firms have been granted exemptions.

However, authorities are still trying to balance the benefits that come with financial innovation with the risks posed to retail traders by the volatile virtual assets. Late last year, Binance Singapore formally withdrew its application to operate as a licensed crypto exchange in the country.  Additionally, some billboards advertising digital-asset exchanges last year have since been removed.  

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Nicholas Pongratz
Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.
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