Singapore Fintech Regulatory Updates - Dec 2017 & Jan 2018
Singapore central bank head hopes cryptocurrency tech will survive "crash"
Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said at a UBS Wealth Insights event that he hoped the technologies underpinning cryptocurrencies such as blockchain would not be undermined by an eventual crash in the digital money. The city-state has urged "extreme caution" about buying cryptocurrencies. "I do hope when the fever has gone away, when the crash has happened, it will not undermine the much deeper, and more meaningful technology associated with digital currencies and blockchain," said Menon, who has been heading Singapore’s central bank since 2011.
Singapore MAS Chief adds to world-wide warnings against cryptocurrency trading
The Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon, said that he hoped an eventual crash in cryptocurrencies would not undermine the meaningful technology associated with them. While not ruling out the launch of cryptocurrencies by MAS to sell directly to the public, he was doubtful whether it would be a good idea. This came on the heels of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s statement that the distributed ledger technology behind blockchain could improve transactions between financial institutions, while he was not enthusiastic about his bank issuing a virtual currency. Central banks and governments across the world have issued warnings against trading in cryptocurrencies.
Temasek, Kuehne collaborate to invest in early-stage logistics tech
Global freight forwarder and logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel announced a memorandum of understanding with Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings. The two companies will invest in early-stage logistics and supply chain technology firms worldwide through a 50-50 joint venture. The focus is on the distributed data system of blockchain along with Big Data, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics. Temasek's recent tech startup investments have included online fashion retailer Poshmark, payments firm Bill.com and augmented-reality headset developer Magic Leap.
MAS will avoid issuing digital currencies to public
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is avoiding the issuance of digital currencies to the public at this point; with the managing director of the central bank noting it can cause a bank run, as people rush to put everything into digital currencies at the central bank instead. At a UBS event, MAS managing director Ravi Menon said: "…I can't see why you'd want to do that, because that completely disintermediates the banks." As part of MAS's blockchain experiment, it issued a digital currency that held no stored value. Menon noted that cryptocurrency is neither legal tender, not reflects liability of any particular party.
MAS chief concerned over “speculative dimension” of cryptocurrencies
The Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon, said that MAS is concerned over the use of cryptocurrency as an instrument of investment or speculation. Menon said the configuration of healthy growth, low inflation and easy financial conditions has created a "Goldilocks economy" - one that is chugging along not too hot, not too cold, along with three "bears" of risk. "For investors, inflation is the biggest bear to watch because monetary policy could tighten at a quicker pace than expected by the markets. The "mama bear" of protectionism remains a risk, while the "baby bear" of financial instability can also introduce risks due to the high leverage that has built up in both the G-7 economies and in emerging Asia, he added.
UK urban infrastructure mission to Singapore
Between 29 January to 2 February, 14 UK-based businesses traveled to Singapore on an Innovate UK mission to support urban infrastructure systems. The mission will help to identify innovation opportunities for the countries to work together on urban challenges and build partnerships between participating organizations. CSCM, Relational Urbanism, Immense Simulations, The Behaviouralist and Design for Social Change are some of the SMEs that attended. This is the third ‘urban bridges’ mission that Innovate UK has run to Singapore. More than 40 SMEs have been hosted across the three visits.
Securities Commission Malaysia orders halt to ICO by Singapore-based CopyCash
The Securities Commission (SC) has directed Singapore-based blockchain start-up CopyCash Foundation to halt all activities in Malaysia, including a planned initial coin offering (ICO). The SC found a "reasonable likelihood" that disclosures in CopyCash's white paper, as well as its representations to potential investors, will "contravene relevant requirements under securities laws". In its white paper, CopyCash Foundation had said it is a "social travesting platform", essentially an investing platform built on blockchain technology allowing investors to view other investors' trading actions, with an option to automatically copy those actions. The SC also advised investors to take caution in ICO schemes and exercise due diligence before participation.
SC cease-and-desist prompts apology from Singapore's CopyCash
Following the cease-and-desist directive, CopyCash apologized in a group chat for the inconvenience caused to investors. The SC inquiry with CopyCash management found it likely that the funds raised could be used to invest in stocks and securities. The startup assured investors that it would soon announce the exchanges it would be listed on. It added that all its token holders would be issued additional CopyCashCoins given that the price of ethereum had increased significantly over the past few months.
IE Singapore signs MOU with Confederation of Indian Industry
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at the Singapore-India Business Dialogue. IE Singapore said that India is emerging as the world's third-largest startup base; it had more than 5,000 tech startups last year, among them unicorns such as Flipkart and Paytm. The Indian government’s Startup India program has set aside S$ 2.1 billion in funds to support startups, the strongest of which are in the e-commerce, fintech, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors. Singapore startups, such as logistics firm Anchanto, e-commerce service provider Shopmatic and AI firm ViSenze, have set up shop in India.
Ministers meet to mark France-Singapore Year of Innovation
Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran and France's Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal met at a lunch to mark the France-Singapore Year of Innovation 2018. Minister Vidal will sign four agreements to renew two joint laboratories and allow collaboration in autonomous vehicle safety research and research on smart cities. VivaTechnology, a global innovation festival, will be held in May in France and the Smart Nation Innovations Week in June in Singapore. The partnership was first announced in March 2017 by then-French president François Hollande and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when Hollande made a state visit to Singapore.
Collaboration to enable interoperable QR payments
Seven mobile wallets, acquirers and payment networks, including Diners Club, EZi Wallet, EZ-Link, LiquidPay, MasterCard, UnionPay International and Wirecard, have formed a consortium to enable interoperable Quick Response (QR) payments in Singapore for consumers and merchants. Apart from bilateral arrangements, mobile wallets and acquirers can choose to be supplemented by LiquidNet, an API platform developed by Liquid Group that is open to debit and credit cards, wallets, telecom providers, payments technology institutions as well as local and international payment apps. Participating merchants will be able to accept consortium QR payments on a single merchant system. This initiative comes after the Payments Council's endorsement of the EMVCo-compliant Singapore Quick Response Code (SG QR) specifications for electronic payments that will see SG QR being deployed by payment service providers in Singapore through 2018.