MAS made it clear that although both Binance and FTX were not licensed in Singapore, it was only Binance that was quite active in targeting users from Singapore, making offerings denominated in Singapore dollars and accepting payments through local payment platforms like PayNow and PayLah.
This action was noted to be a possible contravention of the Payment Services Act (PS Act), thus making MAS place Binance on its investor watch list in September 2021. Between January and August 2021, MAS also received multiple complaints about Binance. MAS explained that the main reason behind the investor watch list is “to warn the public of entities that may be wrongly perceived as being MAS-regulated, especially those which solicit Singapore customers for financial business without the requisite MAS licence.” They also said, “It is not possible to list all of them, and no regulator in the world has done so.” With MAS requiring Binance to stop targeting users from Singapore, Binance rolled out certain measures, such as taking out its mobile application from all the app stores of Singapore and geo-blocking of Singapore IP addresses. As for FTX, MAS said that they could not ringfence the assets that Singapore investors choose in FTX and neither can they make certain if FTX has backed its assets with reserves. They said they could not do this because FTX operates offshore and is not licensed by MAS.
On November 21, Singapore’s Central Bank, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), addressed a few questions regarding why Binance was on the investor watch list, whereas FTX, the crypto exchange that filed for bankruptcy, was not on the list.
MAS warned about the volatility that crypto assets brought with them and admitted, “Even if a crypto exchange is licensed in Singapore, it would be currently only regulated to address money-laundering risks, not to protect investors. This is similar to the approach currently taken in most jurisdictions.”
The regulator further put out a consultation paper in October which expresses the consumer protections for crypto users.The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash
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