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How Are Cryptocurrency Exchanges Regulated in Singapore?



In Singapore’s journey to becoming a Smart Nation, the financial sector is an integral component to achieve this mission.

But for Singapore to maintain its competitive edge as a global financial hub, both technology and innovation play important roles. Hence, Singapore, understanding this, has created a Smart Financial Centre through the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

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Recently, Singapore added a feather in its cap when the Singapore-based bank, DBS, launched the DBS digital exchange in December 2020, making it one of the pioneers among traditional financial institutions to take such a leap.

But, with the growth in the digital exchanges space, how is Singapore regulating cryptocurency exchanges?

The Role of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

Digital exchanges in Singapore are regulated by MAS. In 2018, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Chairman of MAS, announced that cryptocurrencies would be subjected to similar anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) measures as traditional currencies.

He had before stated that although MAS does not regulate virtual currencies, new regulations for payment services were in the works to tackle AML and CFT issues surrounding cryptocurrencies, which are not legal tenders in Singapore.

In 2019, a MAS press release warned about the risks associated with cryptocurrency speculation and in another statement in 2021, MAS deemed cryptocurrencies unsuitable for retail investors.

The Role of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

Monetary Authority of Singapore

Since 1992, Singapore has been a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is an intergovernmental policymaking body to address AML and CFT matters. When it comes to virtual assets, the FATF believes that they can be used in criminal and terrorist activities given the anonymity and cross border nature of their activities.

In July 2020, MAS released the Consultation Paper on a New Omnibus Act for the Financial Sector to ensure they are aligned with the revised FATF standards on digital exchanges. This included a recommendation that digital exchanges with a ‘meaningful presence’ such as offices and directors in Singapore are to conduct their operations abroad following the same regulations as they would in Singapore.

Payment Services Act 2019

The Payment Services Act (PSA) was passed in 2019 to mitigate risk and build confidence in the payment landscape while also promoting growth and confidence. It took into consideration feedback from the industry through dialogues and public consultations. The PSA came into effect in January 2020 and brought exchanges and cryptocurrencies businesses under the regulation of MAS.

Digital exchanges providing cryptocurrency-related services would need to obtain a license from MAS and they are also required to take measures such as performing customer due diligence and monitor the transactions. In the event a red flag is raised about a suspicious transaction, the business is required to file a report with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

Apart from the above, the complete list of AML/CFT requirements that is stipulated in the PSN02 notice by MAS in December 2019 also included these areas: risk assessment and risk mitigation, correspondent accounts and wire transfers, internal policies, compliance, audit, training, reliance on third parties and record keeping.

In January 2021, a Bill was passed to enhance the PSA and expand MAS’ authority to impose user protection measures when deemed necessary, such as requiring a digital exchange to segregate customer assets from its own assets. While the PSA governs digital exchanges with cryptocurrency-related services, other exchanges that enable the trading in securities tokens are regulated under the Securities and Futures Acts.

A woman became the first person to be charged in June 2020 for violating the PSA when she facilitated the purchase of Bitcoin for an unknown person in return for a commission. However, she did not have a license and it was later discovered that the funds were proceeds from online scams.

Robust Surveillance and Public Awareness

MAS is also committed to increased scrutiny and surveillance on the cryptocurrency industry to ensure that higher-risk activities and suspicious networks are detected and scrutinized. Apart from this, MAS closely tracks developments within the crypto assets space and regulations in other jurisdictions to ensure that their regulations are robust enough.

For 2020, Statista reported that the cumulative market capitalization of cryptocurrencies grew approximately 300%, with Bitcoin holding the majority of it.

With such tremendous growth, MAS is increasing awareness among the public through its consumer advisories, especially on the risks of purchasing digital payment tokens. Besides this, MAS has also cautioned the public to report to the police if they suspect that an investment is being misused for unlawful activities.

Balancing Regulation and Support for Digital Exchanges

Yet, regulation must be balanced with support towards players in the industry to promote growth. An example of MAS’ understanding of this can be seen in its work with The Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Start-ups in its Code of Practice, in partnership with the Association of Banks in Singapore.

The purpose of the code, which was released in August 2020, is to assist cryptocurrency businesses to apply for the required license. This reflects MAS’ commitment to establishing Singapore as a leader in fintech and blockchain, both through regulation and support to spur innovation and growth.

Featured image: Photo by Sreehari Devadas on Unsplash 

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Visa to acquire Swedish open banking firm Tink for €1.8 billion

Card giant Visa is set to acquire Tink, the Swedish open banking platform, in a deal worth €1.8 billion (roughly $2.15 billion).

The post Visa to acquire Swedish open banking firm Tink for €1.8 billion appeared first on The Block.



Card giant Visa is set to acquire Tink, the Swedish open banking platform, in a deal worth €1.8 billion (roughly $2.15 billion).

The news comes less than six months after the termination of Visa’s planned $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid, the San Francisco-based fintech firm – a deal that had encountered significant opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Like Plaid, Tink’s platform allows customers to connect with more than 3,400 banks and financial institutions to access aggregated financial data, helping them to build innovative personal finance tools.

“Visa is committed to doing all we can to foster innovation and empower consumers in support of Europe’s open banking goals,” said Al Kelly, CEO and chairman of Visa. “By bringing together Visa’s network of networks and Tink’s open banking capabilities we will deliver increased value to European consumers and businesses with tools to make their financial lives more simple, reliable and secure.”

As part of the Visa deal, Tink will retain its brand and current management team, as well as its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tink last raised money in December 2020, when it secured €85 million (roughly $101.5 million) in a round led by Dawn Capital and Eurazeo Growth.

The €1.8 billion transaction, which includes cash and retention incentives, is subject to approval from regulators. Visa will fund the transaction in cash.

Powered by PSD2

Tink’s business model is in part enabled by the EU’s Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which was put into effect in January 2018. The legislation requires banks to give third parties access to the customer data they store, with the aim of driving competition and innovation in financial services.

But the PSD2 framework also paved the way for new payment functionality that allows consumers to make payments directly from their bank accounts without having to rely on intermediaries, like card networks.

In recent months, account-to-account payments have garnered a lot of attention from crypto startups, which see it as a potentially cheaper and easier method of funding wallets.

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Exclusive: Financial Technology Provider EXINITI Announces Its Official Launch

The UAE-based technology company is offering comprehensive services to global FX and CFD brokers.



EXINITI, a Dubai-based financial technology firm, announced today that the company has officially launched its services. Founded by Mohamed Rashad, an industry veteran, the company aims to facilitate international FX and CFD brokers through innovative technology services.

According to an official press release shared exclusively with Finance Magnates, services from EXINITI will support emerging companies as well as well-established businesses in the global financial markets.

Bank Account Alternative. Business Account IBAN.

The company highlighted that its core offering has various services, including an online and scalable CRM package, back-office support systems, client/IB portal solutions, MT5/4 white label solutions, and support with customizable website integration and development.

Additionally, the company will provide extensive support to the brokers including web development and hosting services to help the companies run their operations smoothly and efficiently.

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Commenting on the official launch, Mohamed Rashad, CEO and Founder of EXINITI, said: “EXINITI was founded because there was a gap in the market in terms of technology-related advancements and support for financial services. EXINITI provides everything a Forex and CFD brokerage requires to get set up correctly from day one. We have also perfected the solutions needed to run a brokerage’s day-to-day operations smoothly and in the most efficient and scalable way possible.”

In addition to the mentioned services, EXINITI allows for integration with the most commonly used payment solution providers in the industry.

Mohamed Rashad

The CEO of EXINITI has extensive experience in the global financial markets. Before founding EXINITI, Rashad worked with several brokerages, including MultiBank Group and In his latest role, he worked with FXGate as Head of information technology.

“EXINITI which was founded at the end of 2020 and has its headquarters in the UAE combines technology and functionality to bring to life a suite of new tech and know-how for brokers. The technology provider has launched its website that describes the full suite of brokerage set-up and management solutions that are on offer for financial enterprises to deliver the ultimate experience for their clients,” the company added in the official announcement.

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Singapore based Digital Wealth and Savings App Hugo Secures $2M via Seed Round from 1982 Ventures, Others



Singapore-based Hugo, a digital wealth and savings app, recently revealed that they’ve acquired $2 million in capital via a seed round from 1982 Ventures, established family offices and angel investors.

With the proceeds from its investment round, Hugo stated that it will be introducing additional features to help clients with improving their budgeting, savings and achieving their investing goals so that the company can support the financial wellbeing of its customers.

David Fergusson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Hugo, stated:

“Money is the biggest cause of stress and Covid-19 has only reinforced how financially unprepared most of us are. We are excited to introduce Hugo at a time when financial wellbeing has become so relevant.”

David has also mentioned that money fears are “most people’s principal cause of stress, and we talk about Wealthcare® as being the antidote to money fears.” So Hugo plans to create a simple user interface, and an intuitive engagement method for “getting people to, basically, look after their money as they spend it, look after their money as they budget with it, and look after their money as they save with it.”

Hugo has developed a unique feature, known as the Gold Vault, which makes investing in gold more convenient and accessible for everyone. Hugo clients are able to purchase or sell gold for as low as SGD 0.01.

Gold has traditionally been a core investment for the ultra-rich and provides safety and wealth preservation during times of high inflation and socioeconomic uncertainty.

Hugo’s Gold Vault is reportedly backed by physical gold that resides in an accredited LBMA (London Bullion Market Association) vault. The gold is insured by Lloyds of London, allowing investors to benefit from the same level of protections as more established hedge funds and private banking institutions.

Herston Powers, Managing Partner, of 1982 Ventures, remarked:

“Hugo is democratizing access to gold with a low fee product that is extremely thoughtful and approachable. Singapore is a perfect market to launch the next generation of digital banking and wealth solutions.”

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Saudi Arabia based Fintech Tweeq, Provider of Spending Accounts for SMEs, Secures Investment from STV, Raed Ventures



Saudi Arabia-based Tweeq, a provider of spending accounts for individuals and small businesses operating across the country, revealed that it has finalized an undisclosed seven-figure funding round, which has been co-led by STV and Raed Ventures.

As noted by the company’s management:

“Our mission is to help individuals and SMEs in MENA to manage their money better and meet their financial needs by building the best mobile-first spending account.”

Tweeq’s investment round has been finalized after the Fintech firm’s exclusive partnership with Mastercard and Paymentology. The company will use the proceeds to further enhance its product development efforts and prepare for its launch in Saudi Arabia, followed by the wider MENA region.

Established last year by a team of experienced banking and technology professionals, Tweeq will let its customers open a feature-rich spending account within seconds via their intuitive mobile app – where they may quickly start receiving and making payments. Users may also set monthly budgets and long-term financial and investing goals. Additionally, they can monitor and manage personal spending automatically across various categories.

Clients may join the waiting list right now simply by downloading Tweeq via the Apple and Google Play stores.

Saeed Albuhairi, Co-Founder and CEO at Tweeq, stated:

“Tweeq is aiming to provide an unparalleled customer experience and a better modern alternative to the traditional banking account. We are working hard to obtain the necessary licenses and approvals to conduct our business under the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA)’s supervision to achieve the Kingdom’s ambition of developing a diversified and effective financial sector.”

The financial services sector in Saudi Arabia is undergoing rapid digital transformation, a trend that has accelerated following the COVID-19 outbreak.

As covered last month, the Arab Monetary Fund, which aims to establish policies of Arab monetary cooperation and promote the development of Arab financial markets, launched “Finxar,” which is a regional Fintech index for tracking the development of the financial technology industry in Arab nations.

The update had revealed:

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came in second place (after the UAE) with a rate of 65%, … for the development of the demand side and the availability of financing, due to the various initiatives sponsored by the authorities in assisting technology centers in supporting digital financial products and solutions in the Kingdom, and to enhance financial education. In addition to the various awareness programs, enabling the access to finance for small and medium enterprises. It also ranked third at the level of the leading indices of policies & regulations, financial market infrastructure, and talents.”

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