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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manion

Is Singapore Shooting Itself In The Foot On Crypto Restrictions?

Is the balance of power in crypto about to change in Asia as Singapore looks to crack down at the same time as Hong Kong seeks to open up?

When China introduced its very comprehensive crypto crackdown last year it took Hong Kong out of the reckoning as a hub in Asia for all things crypto. Perhaps recognising the possibilities, Singapore was arguably the main jurisdiction that stepped in in order to fill the crypto vacuum left by China’s island territory.

However, it appears that Asia is still a region in transition as regards crypto. While Singapore’s regulator is looking to bring in tighter restrictions on cryptocurrencies, Hong Kong’s regulator has said that it will loosen the current rules in order to allow retail investors to transact in crypto.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Ravi Menon, the central bank chief of Singapore, appeared to be quite relaxed about his country’s more hawkish stance on crypto. He said:

“We don’t set ourselves out to compete with other jurisdictions, especially on regulation. We have to do what is right for us, what is necessary to contain the risks. And the risks are primarily harm to retail investors.”

Whether retail investors would agree with the central bank head is food for thought, but Menon stuck to his guns, appearing to say that the central bank would not get in the way of other jurisdictions wishing to take the lead on crypto.

He added:

“I think our latest proposals would be among the strictest in the world with respect to retail access to cryptocurrencies,” Menon said. “And we think that’s necessary.”

As reported yesterday by Crypto Daily, Hong Kong seems to potentially be considering an opposing path on regulation to Singapore, as Chinese authorities on the mainland could be rethinking their crypto strategy.

A recurring theme that comes up time and again in mainstream media where crypto regulation is concerned, is the institutional need for complete regulatory clarity in order for the crypto investment landscape to widen.

In this regard, Adrian Przelozny, chief executive officer of Sydney-based Independent Reserve, was quoted in today’s Bloomberg News article as saying:

“Singapore is getting a bit uncommercial for crypto exchanges by being over cautious on retail participation. Any decision to choosing a jurisdiction to do business is guided by two principles -- if it will earn profit for me and do I trust that the rules won’t change in that jurisdiction. It is hard to have confidence to invest if rules keep changing.”

As China potentially prepares to once more dip a toe into crypto, it remains to be seen where the balance of power will centre in Asia. Will China use Hong Kong as a proxy to keep crypto transactions off of the mainland? Or will Singapore relax its stance once more and seek to change the minds of those who might have taken the decision to move on and find a more accepting jurisdiction?

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


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