Cryptocurrencies are an experiment.“The number and different forms of cryptocurrencies is growing internationally. It is too early to say if they will succeed,” he said in a written answer to questions from members of parliament regarding the government’s position on cryptocurrency trading, and whether the digital coins will be banned. He added that even if they do succeed, their full implications will still be unknown for some time. “The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been closely studying these developments, and the potential risks they pose. As of now, there is no strong case to ban cryptocurrency trading here.” In a media statement, MAS said that as a financial regulator, it will work on regulating the activities that surround virtual currencies. “The risks surrounding virtual currency exchanges include those related to money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF). Virtual currency transactions, given their anonymous nature, are particularly vulnerable to [such] abuse.” “MAS will therefore introduce anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism requirements on virtual currency intermediaries that deal in or facilitate the exchange of virtual currencies for real currencies. The regulations will extend to the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency, or another virtual currency.”
Interest in cryptocurrency has risen sharply over the past year. This could largely be because bitcoin doubled in value in 2016, and then continued to rise an astonishing 13 times last year to almost US$20,000, before crashing to around US$10,000 in mid-January. Fluctuating prices aside, deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that there is no strong, definitive reason as to why Singapore should ban the trading of digital currencies such as Bitcoin in Singapore.