Singapore is a global financial center, with clear and strict regulations. There are few countries in the world where financial service providers are regulated as well as in Singapore.
According to a report by Recap on top crypto hub cities in 2023, Singapore is at 4th place with 25% crypto ownership, more than 800 crypto companies, and over 1,000 industry workers.
- 1st in Heritage Foundation’s 2021 Index of Economic Freedom
- 3rd in Chandler Good Government Index (2022)
- Chandler Institute of Governance is a non-profit organisation based in Singapore
- only Asian country in the top 10
- Singapore also topped the ranking for financial stewardship and attractive marketplace
- 4th (2021) in Transparency International: Corruption Perceptions Index
- 4th in Global Financial Centres Index (Sep 2021)
- The ranking is an aggregate of indices from five key areas: “business environment”, “financial sector development”, “infrastructure factors”, “human capital”, “reputation and general factors”.
Is crypto money?
In a High Court hearing on 30 March 2023, the question of whether crypto is money sparked a colourful exchange between the judge and the lawyer representing blockchain company Algorand Foundation
See ‘Crypto hearings in Singapore throw up quirks, legal novelties’ (Singapore Law Watch)
Stance of Monetary Authority of Singapore(Nov 2022)
Shared by MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon who was speaking at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022:
- Singapore wants to be a crypto hub, but only if it means being a hub for sound and well-regulated tokenised and digital assets with value-adding use cases.
- This means discouraging retail trading and speculation in cryptocurrencies, facilitating stablecoins through regulation, allowing tokenised bank deposits, and experimenting with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
Responding to Bloomberg in the aftermath of Hodlnaut’s withdrawal halt announcement on 8 August 2022, MAS clarified that Payment Services Act (PSA) licensing involves regulation around money laundering and terrorism financing risks as well as technology risks.
Firms are not subject to risk-based capital or liquidity requirements, nor are they required to safeguard customer money or digital tokens from insolvency risk. It said that’s similar to the approach taken in most jurisdictions.
“MAS has been continually reminding the general public that dealing in cryptocurrency is highly hazardous”
“Not only are the values of cryptocurrencies extremely volatile, customers’ monies are not protected under the law.”
Responding to a parliamentary question on 1 August 2022, which concerned licenses awarded to digital payment token (DPT) service providers in Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) explained that:
“MAS is involved in international regulatory discussions, which are seeing growing consensus on the need to step up oversight of the industry for this purpose. Domestically, MAS is also enhancing our regulatory framework, and will be consulting on the proposed measures in the next few months.”
“We will also continue to actively discourage retail participation in cryptocurrency trading, which MAS has repeatedly warned is plainly hazardous.”
In January 2022, MAS issued guidelines to discourage retail speculations in a variety of assets it considered volatile, including shutting down all active cryptocurrency ATMs in the country.
Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index Singapore (IRCI)
The Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index (IRCI) is an annual report that examines Singaporean attitudes towards cryptocurrency and their level of awareness, adoption, trust and confidence in the cryptocurrency market.
It is a cross-sectional and unbiased sample of everyday Singapore residents and is designed to represent the nation as a whole, including all genders, age-groups and backgrounds.
- conducted in February 2023
- 43% of Singaporeans currently own cryptocurrency, of which 77% hold two or more different types. The Index sits at 55.
The State of Crypto in Singapore (2021)
Gemini has published a whitepaper based on a joint study of over 4,000 respondents (from June 29 to July 9 2021, and included 2,862 respondents that identified as current crypto holders and 1,486 respondents that identified as non-crypto holders).
- Average age of current crypto-holders: 29 years old
- Proportion of non-crypto holders that are likely to start investing in crypto in the next 12 months: 34%
- Proportion of crypto-holders whose investments were spurred by COVID-19: 67%
- Proportion of female crypto-holders: 19%
- Across the various cryptos, ether is the most popular among crypto holders (78%), followed by bitcoin (69%) and Cardano (40%).