MAS outlook on Cryptocurrency
Why did MAS treat Binance differently from FTX in relation to the Investor Alert List?
MAS placed Binance on the Investor Alert List (IAL) because it had solicited Singapore users without a licence. With regard to FTX, there was no evidence that it was soliciting Singapore users specifically.
According to MAS (Media Releases)
last revised 21 Nov 2022
3. A second question is why MAS treated Binance.com (Binance) differently from FTX, specifically why it was placed on the Investor Alert List (IAL) while FTX was not.
4. While both Binance and FTX are not licensed here, there is a clear difference between the two: Binance was actively soliciting users in Singapore while FTX was not. Binance in fact went to the extent of offering listings in Singapore dollars and accepted Singapore-specific payment modes such as PayNow and PayLah.
5. MAS received several complaints about Binance between January and August 2021. There were also announcements in multiple jurisdictions of unlicensed solicitation of customers by Binance during the same period.
6. With regard to FTX, there was no evidence that it was soliciting Singapore users specifically. Trades on FTX also could not be transacted in Singapore dollars. But as in the case of thousands of other financial and crypto entities that operate overseas, Singapore users were able to access FTX services online.
7. MAS placed Binance on the IAL because it had solicited Singapore users without a licence. Further, on MAS’ referral, the Commercial Affairs Department commenced investigation into Binance for possible contravention of the Payment Services Act (PS Act). There was no reason to place FTX on the IAL as there was no evidence that it had contravened the PS Act.
8. MAS required Binance to stop soliciting Singapore users. To assure MAS that it was no longer doing so, Binance put in place various measures including geo-blocking of Singapore IP addresses and the removal of its mobile application from Singapore app stores. These measures were intended to demonstrate beyond doubt that Binance had ceased soliciting and providing services to Singapore users. Should Binance decide now to dismantle some of these restrictions, it has to continue to comply with the prohibition against soliciting Singapore users without a licence.