The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been issuing strong warnings against retail investments in cryptocurrencies and has been taking increasingly stronger measures to restrict retail access to cryptocurrencies. Talking about retail investors trading crypto, Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, said, “they seem to be irrationally oblivious about the risks of cryptocurrency trading.”
While delivering an opening address on a public platform, Menon said that MAS was once “making pro-crypto decisions” but was now being “overly cautious and losing its appeal as a global crypto hub.” Yet Menon pointed out that others see MAS as having struck the right balance, as “the crypto winter is proving MAS policies to be right.”
“Adding frictions” on retail access to cryptocurrencies was an area the MAS was contemplating, said Menon. “These may include customer suitability tests and restricting the use of leverage and credit facilities for cryptocurrency trading. Yes to digital asset innovation, no to cryptocurrency speculation.”
Menon Says There Is Confusion About Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, and Digital Assets
Menon explained that the public and media attention has tended to focus on cryptocurrencies but cryptocurrencies are just one part of the entire digital asset ecosystem. “To understand the issues more sharply and what the benefits and risks are, we need to be clear about what the different components of this ecosystem are,” he said.
Menon admitted that the inherent complexity of this ecosystem (confusion about cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and digital assets) has made it difficult even for MAS to get its messages across.
Meanwhile, MAS is considering a four-pronged approach to building the digital asset ecosystem:
first, explore the potential of distributed ledger technology in promising use cases
second, support the tokenization of financial and real economy assets
third, enable digital currency connectivity
fourth, anchor players with strong value propositions and risk management.
On the Flipside
- Consumers are increasingly trading in cryptocurrencies globally, not just in Singapore, attracted by the prospect of sharp price increases. Singapore used to present itself as a crypto hub, as the country’s welcoming approach helped the financial hub attract digital asset services-related firms from China, India, and elsewhere in the last few years, making it a major centre in Asia. With an announcement of this nature, MAS has alerted the crypto community eyeing Singapore.
Why You Should Care
MAS has defended its actions by explaining that cryptocurrencies are actively traded and heavily speculated upon, with prices that have nothing to do with any underlying economic value related to their use on the distributed ledger.