Singapore warns 8 crypto exchanges


SINGAPORE • Singapore warned eight cryptocurrency exchanges about their activities in the city-state as regulators around the world step up scrutiny of digital-asset trading.

The plat forms, which weren’t named, shouldn’t facilitate trading in tokens that are securities or futures contracts without approval, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement yesterday. The number of digital token exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Singapore has been on the rise, MAS official Lee Boon Ngiap said.

“We do not see a need to restrict them if they are bona fide businesses,” Lee, assistant MD of capital markets at the MAS, said in the statement.

“But if any digital token exchange, issuer or intermediary breaches our securities laws, MAS will take firm action.”

The warning to venues comes as regulators ramp up supervision of an industry that’s fraught with fraud, hacks and hype. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed firms and individuals behind coin offerings it suspects might be breaking the law, while Hong Kong’s regulator has asked several exchanges to remove tokens that are similar to securities.

One ICO issuer, which was ordered to stop the sale of its digital tokens, has taken remedial actions to comply with the rules and returned funds received from Singapore- based investors, MAS said.

Singapore is seen as one of the more welcoming nations when it comes to crypto exchanges, with several setting up in the wake of China’s crackdown on the venues last year. The city-state’s deputy prime minister has called digital tokens an “experiment” and said that there’s no strong case to ban trading.