MAS outlook on Cryptocurrency

Are cryptocurrencies and other crypto assets regulated in Singapore? If so, how are they regulated?

  • "In Singapore, digital payment token service providers are regulated primarily for the purpose of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. MAS had said earlier that the regulation does not extend to consumer protection and MAS does not regulate the digital payment token itself."

    Source: Straits Times, last revised on 2 October 2021

    According to MAS (Speeches)
    last revised on 9 November 2021

    We define tokens (referring to crypto tokens) that are used for payments purposes as digital payment tokens, and entities which provide services related to such tokens in Singapore are subject to licensing and supervision by MAS, primarily for money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

    (Edits by FinReg)

    According to MAS (Parliamentary Replies)
    last revised on 2 October 2017

    Similar to most jurisdictions, MAS does not regulate such virtual currencies per se. However we regulate the activities that surround them if those activities fall within our more general ambit as financial regulator. Let me give two examples.

    1. First, virtual currencies, due to the anonymous nature of the transactions, can be exploited for money laundering and terrorism financing risks. MAS is working on a new payment services regulatory framework that will address these risks. [NB: this regulatory framework has been set up under the Payment Services Act]

    2. A second example is fund-raising. Virtual currencies can go beyond being a means of payment, and evolve into “second generation” tokens representing benefits such as ownership in assets, like a share or bond certificate. The sale of such “second generation” tokens to raise funds is commonly known as an initial coin offering or ICO (“ICO”).

    "Cryptocurrencies are not regulated by MAS. They are not legal tender or securities. Persons that buy or sell cryptocurrencies, or facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies may be regulated under the Payment Services Act 2019 for money-laundering and terrorism financing risk only."

    "Offers of digital tokens that are securities may be regulated or exempted under the Securities and Futures Act, e.g. if they are offered to accredited or institutional investors only, or are exempted small offers and private placements. These exemptions come with specific conditions such as advertising restrictions."

    Source: MoneySense, last revised on 3 July 2021

    Is cryptocurrency considered legal tender? 

    According to MAS (Speeches)
    last revised on 9 November 2021

    Are cryptocurrencies money? So far, the answer must be no. Cryptocurrencies have performed poorly as a medium of exchange, a store of value, or a unit of account. MAS prefers to call them by their more accurate technical name: crypto tokens...

    But to be regarded as money, crypto tokens need to be more stable in value and have credible backing...