Singapore grants first regulatory in-principle approval to crypto exchange

Independent Reserve, an Australian crypto exchange founded in 2013, has become the first cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore to receive an “in-principle approval” to operate as a fully regulated virtual asset service provider (VASP).

In a letter from the city-state’s de facto central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the exchange was approved under the terms of the Payments Services Act, which came into effect in January 2020 and provides clear-cut rules and regulations for crypto exchanges and service providers seeking to operate locally. Since January, VASPs awaiting their applications’ approval have been permitted to continue to operate under the exemption.

Using the specific terms of the Singaporean framework, Independent Reserve has now been approved, in principle, for receipt of a Major Payment Institution Licence that allows it to provide Digital Payment Token Services. Singapore’s regulatory regime for exchanges requires them to provide adequate consumer protections and comply with anti-money laundering measures, including the Financial Action Task Force’s notorious “travel rule.”

Commenting on the choice of Singapore as the first jurisdiction chosen for the exchange’s overseas expansion, its Independent Reserve CEO Adrian Przelozny said that MAS’ licensing process “provides certainty for us as industry participants and security for our customers.” The future granting of Digital Payment Token licenses in Singapore will, he claimed, continue to ensure the city-state’s competitive position as a financial hub in Asia.

In addition to the regulatory clarity forthcoming from MAS, the Financial Times argued that Singapore’s popularity among crypto and blockchain developers has in part been accelerated by perceived geopolitical risks in Hong Kong, as the latter comes under increasing influence from Beijing. Some 170 exchange applicants, including Binance and Gemini, are reportedly awaiting their licenses in Singapore. Independent Reserve’s own application was filed back in April of last year.

Related: 43% of Singaporeans own crypto, according to Independent Reserve survey

In recent comments on crypto regulatory developments worldwide, Jihan Wu, the co-founder and ex-CEO of Bitcoin (BTC) mining giant Bitmain, cited Singapore as a prime example of a jurisdiction that was well positioned to serve as “a hub for crypto innovations.”