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Singapore pursues fintech hub ambitions
MAS grants in-principle approvals to three more digital payment token licence applicants amid crypto meltdown
The Asset 23 Jun 2022

Singapore has granted in-principle approvals to three more fintech companies to offer digital payment token (DPT) services in the country, highlighting its resolve to become an international financial technology hub amid a crash in the prices of bitcoin and other crypto assets.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also the coordinating minister for economic policies, announced the approvals at the opening of the Point Zero Forum, an in-person fintech gathering in Switzerland on June 22.

Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency platform, said in a press release that it was one of the awardees. It is understood that the two other service providers granted in-principle approvals are Genesis and Sparrow Tech.

Over the past two years, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has granted licences and in-principle approvals to 11 DPT service providers, excluding the latest three. The awardees include stablecoin players, crypto exchanges, and traditional financial institutions.

Responsible players

“We are committed to partner innovative and responsible players to grow the Web 3.0 ecosystem and community in Singapore,” Heng says in his speech. “We will facilitate live experiments through regulatory sandboxes, including testing the feasibility of [decentralized finance] and asset tokenization.”

The announcement comes in the wake of a massive sell-off of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as rising inflation and volatile markets spurred investors to run away from riskier assets.

“Crypto assets have more recently been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. This, however, does not reflect where the greatest value of blockchain and digital assets lies, much of which is away from the retail glare,” Heng says.

“Take cryptocurrencies for example. Their prices can be highly volatile and subject to speculative movements, making them unsuitable for retail investment. But the blockchain technology underlying cryptocurrencies has potential to improve wholesale cross-border transactions, where the settlement process is far from simple. Today’s cross-border settlement typically goes through a few intermediaries and is mostly bound by fixed operating hours of settlement banks and systems.  There is thus much that we can explore using blockchain technology to improve efficiencies, accessibility and affordability of cross-border transactions.”

A common goal

He also stresses the need for the fintech industry and regulators to cooperate. “Regulators and most of the fintech community share a common goal – which is to use finance and tech to create value and improve lives. They need not be operating at cross purposes or take an adversarial approach. Doing so, works to no one’s benefit. 

“This relationship should in fact be a partnership, where industry and regulator work as a double helix to encourage and promote innovation, while managing the downside risks. This creates the right conditions for sound and enduring growth,” he adds.

Singapore-based Crypto.com, founded in 2016, boasts over 50 million customers. It has also received a provisional approval of its application for a virtual asset MVP licence from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority and plans to launch its cryptocurrency exchange service in Dubai.

“The [MAS] sets a high regulatory bar that cultivates innovation while protecting consumers, and their in-principle approval of our application reflects the trusted and secure platform we have worked diligently to build,” says Kris Marszalek, co-founder and chief executive officer of Crypto.com. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the MAS and deepening our roots in Singapore – a flourishing market for fintech innovation, renowned for its well-regulated business environment.” 

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