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Singapore regulator aims to protect investors from cryptocurrencies

As HNWs in APAC region admit they are keen on investing in digital assets.
Bitcoin Symbol in a digital raster microstructure - 3d illustration

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has published two consultation papers proposing regulatory measures to reduce the risk of consumer harm from cryptocurrency trading and to support the development of stablecoins as a “credible medium of exchange” in the digital asset market.

These measures will be part of the Payment Services Act.

The regulator said trading in cryptocurrencies, also known as digital payment tokens or DPTs, is “highly risky and not suitable for the general public”.

But it said that cryptocurrencies “play a supporting role in the broader digital asset ecosystem, and it would not be feasible to ban them”. Therefore, to reduce the risk to consumers from speculative trading in cryptocurrencies, MAS will require that DPT service providers ensure proper business conduct and adequate risk disclosure.

The proposed measures cover three areas:

  • Consumer Access: DPT service providers will be required to provide relevant risk disclosures to enable retail consumers to make informed decisions regarding cryptocurrency trading. They must also disallow the use of credit facilities and leverage by retail consumers for cryptocurrency trading;
  • Business Conduct: DPT service providers will be required to implement proper segregation of customers’ assets, mitigate any potential conflicts of interest which arise from the multiple roles they perform, and establish processes for complaints handling; and
  • Technology Risks: Similar to other financial institutions such as banks, DPT service providers will be required to maintain high availability and recoverability of their critical systems.


The MAS said that stablecoins have the “potential to be a medium of exchange to facilitate transactions in the digital asset ecosystem, provided they are well-regulated and securely backed”.

The current regulatory framework, which primarily addresses money laundering and terrorism financing risks, and technology and cyber risks, will be expanded to ensure that regulated stablecoins have a high degree of value stability.

The Singapore watchdog will regulate the issuance of stablecoins which are pegged to a single currency (SCS), where the value of SCS in circulation exceeds S$5m ($3.6bn).

The key proposed issuer requirements relate to:

  • Value Stability: SCS issuers must hold reserve assets in cash, cash equivalents or short-dated sovereign debt securities, that are at least equivalent to 100% of the par value of the outstanding SCS in circulation, and these assets must be denominated in the same currency as the pegged currency;
  • Reference Currency: All SCS issued in Singapore can be pegged only to the Singapore dollar or any G10 currencies;
  • Disclosures: Stablecoin issuers will be required to publish a white paper disclosing details of the SCS, including the redemption rights of stablecoin holders; and
  • Prudential Standards: SCS issuers must, at all times, meet a base capital requirement of the higher of S$1m or 50% of annual operating expenses of the SCS issuer. They are also required to hold liquid assets which are valued at higher of 50% of annual operating expenses or an amount assessed by the SCS issuer to be needed to achieve recovery or an orderly wind-down.

Banks in Singapore will be allowed to issue SCS as well, and no additional reserve backing and prudential requirements will apply when the SCS is issued as a tokenised form of bank liabilities given the existing rigorous capital and liquidity frameworks applied to banks.

For non-issuance services, DPT service providers can offer all types of stablecoins provided that they clearly label the MAS-regulated SCS to distinguish them from the unregulated ones.

Next milestone

Ho Hern Shin, deputy managing director of financial supervision at the MAS, said: “The two sets of proposed measures mark the next milestone in enhancing Singapore’s regulatory approach to foster an innovative and responsible digital asset ecosystem. Regulations go hand-in-hand with innovation in financial services.

“The enhanced regulatory regime for stablecoins aims to support the development of value-adding payment use cases for stablecoins in Singapore. As we continue to partner industry players to explore the potential benefits of tokenisation and distributed ledger technology, MAS will make appropriate adjustments to its regulatory regime to address the associated risks.”

The MAS has invited interested parties to submit their comments on the proposals by 21 December 2022.

This story first appeared on our sister publication, International Adviser.

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