Singapore Regulator Allows Crypto Exchange to Offer Digital Payment Token Services

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In Brief
  • MAS grants "in-principle approval” to Independent Reserve

  • 90 fintech firms are awaiting official regulatory approval

  • Singapore remans regional leader for crypto adoption

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Singapore has taken another step towards securing its position as the region’s fintech hub with the in-principal regulatory approval of digital token payment services for a crypto exchange.

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has granted an “in-principle approval” to cryptocurrency exchange Independent Reserve allowing it to operate as a regulated provider for digital payment token services.

Singaporean financial regulators classify digital payment tokens as any “cryptographically-secured digital representation of value that is used or intended to be used as a medium of exchange.”

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According to Bloomberg, it is the first exchange to receive an in-principal approval notice for a Major Payment Institution License.

Adrian Przelozny, chief executive officer of Independent Reserve, said that the approval provides certainty for the company as industry participants and security for its customers, adding:

“To be one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to be notified by MAS of our in-principle licensing approval is a reflection of the robustness of the policies, procedures and risk management systems that we have put in place to guide our day-to-day operations,”

Around 170 applicants have applied to provide digital payment token services since the commencement of the Payment Services Act in January 2020, according to Senior Minister and Chairman of the MAS, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

In late July he stated that 30 applications have been withdrawn after engagement with the financial regulator, and two had been rejected. Around 90 service providers are operating under an exemption from holding a license.

The Independent Reserve exchange was established in Australia in 2013 and expanded into Singapore in 2020 to provide a crypto-asset exchange and OTC trading service to individuals and institutions.

The exchange currently has more than 200,000 Australian and global customers and is trusted by over 8,000 Self-Managed Super Funds. It is regulated by AUSTRAC under the 2018 Anti-Money Laundering Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

According to CoinMarketCap, IR has a daily volume of $9.6 million and offers 54 cryptocurrencies on spot markets.

Hungry for crypto

The exchange carried out a survey last month revealing that approximately 43% of Singaporean citizens hold some cryptocurrency. Singapore is one of the top countries in the region for crypto adoption as there have been regulatory crackdowns in China, India, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea this year.

In early July, Binance came under the scrutiny of the Monetary Authority of Singapore as it joined the lengthening list of countries to crack down on the world’s largest exchange.

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Martin has been covering the latest developments on cyber security and infotech for two decades. He has previous trading experience and has been actively covering the blockchain and crypto industry since 2017.

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