The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has granted in-principal approvals to three virtual asset service providers (VASPs), including Crypto.com, bringing the total number of legal players in the country to around 14.
Reports confirmed on Wednesday that cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, digital currency broker Genesis, and digital asset trading platform Sparrow received the approvals.
Crypto.com chief executive and co-founder Kris Marszalek said in a company release: “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.”
The development comes on the backdrop of a broader crypto market weakness and tightening regulatory rules for retail traders in Singapore.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stated, “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.”
Earlier in January, MAS had issued guidelines to discourage cryptocurrency trading by the general public.
“MAS has consistently warned that trading DPTs is highly risky and not suitable for the general public, as the prices of DPTs are subject to sharp speculative swings,” the regulator had noted.
That said, Singapore also aims to become a crypto front runner in the ‘medium-term,’ while overseeing the virtual asset sector. And the nation-state doesn’t seem to be discouraged by the popularity that Dubai has gained as a crypto destination over time.
‘Blockchain over Bitcoin’ for MAS
MAS’ Alvinder Singh had previously stated that “To think that we want to be a crypto hub like some countries that have oil and all that, overnight, no. That is not our objective at all. It is a medium-term objective, doing it responsibly, feeling our way around the sand,”
Furthermore, Heng Swee Keat’s recent statement specifies that the Asian country is looking to explore the blockchain space, beyond just crypto assets. The official said, “There is thus much that we can explore using blockchain technology to improve efficiencies, accessibility, and affordability of cross-border transactions,”
Previously, he had also remarked that Singapore remains “keen to work with blockchain and digital asset players to encourage innovation, and build up trust in the sector.”
That said, MAS announced the commencement of Project Guardian last month. The regulator had stated, “Project Guardian will test the feasibility of applications in asset tokenization and Defi while managing risks to financial stability and integrity.”
Meanwhile, the watchdog partnered with DBS Bank Ltd., JP Morgan, and Marketnode to launch a pilot for the project and test a permissioned liquidity pool comprising tokenized bonds and deposits.
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