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100 digital payment token firms in Singapore fail to win licenses: Report

The Monetary Authority of Singapore wants to support crypto and blockchain adoption in the country but it’s also willing to recognize the risks.

More than 100 out of 170 “digital payment token services” in Singapore have reportedly failed to obtain licenses from the local financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS. 

103 companies related to the digital payment industry in Singapore found their regulatory exemptions removed amid apparently tough regulation, Japan’s financial publication The Nikkei reported Monday, citing data from the MAS.

Sanjay Jain, CEO at Dubai-based crypto exchange Bitxmi, said that their Singaporean branch has failed to secure a license from the MAS.

“We can’t operate in Singapore,” Jain noted. “We have an office there, but it’s just more or less — there’s one person for our accounting and legal issues.” 

Bitxmi exchange appears on the official list of entities that are “no longer exempt pursuant to the Payment Services Regulations,” according to the MAS. Published on Wednesday, the list includes local branches of major industry player, including BitGo Singapore, Revolut Technology Singapore, South Korean blockchain firm Klaytn and others.

Another list of entities that were granted an exemption from holding a license under the Payment Services Act includes Bitstamp Limited, Coinbase Singapore, Gemini Trust and others.

MAS reportedly said that the authority wants to support crypto and blockchain adoption but it’s also willing to recognize the risks. “Cryptocurrencies could be abused for money laundering, terrorism financing or proliferation financing due to the speed and cross-border nature of the transactions,” one MAS representative reportedly stated, adding:

“Digital payment token service providers in Singapore have to comply with requirements to mitigate such risks, including the need to carry out proper customer due diligence, conduct regular account reviews, and monitor and report suspicious transactions.”

Related: Singapore to position itself as global crypto center, says regulator

The news comes amid some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges leaving Singapore. Binance.sg, the local branch of the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, stopped onboarding new users on Dec. 13, announcing plans to completely wind down operations by mid-February. Previously, Huobi exchange disclosed plans to shut down accounts of all Singapore-based users by the end of March 2022 in order to re-enter Singapore through another local entity.

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