Singapore Mandates Trust for Customer Assets and Restricts Lending and Staking in Crypto Services
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country's central bank, has announced new regulatory measures for cryptocurrency service providers in Singapore. By the end of this year, these providers will be required to keep customer assets in a statutory trust for safekeeping purposes. The move aims to minimize the risk of loss or misuse of customers' assets and facilitate the recovery of investments in the event of a crypto service provider's insolvency, according to MAS. In addition to the trust requirement, MAS will restrict crypto service providers from offering lending and staking services to retail customers. The goal is to enhance investor protection and ensure market integrity within the cryptocurrency industry. These measures stem from a public consultation conducted in October 2022 to address regulatory improvements for investor protection in cryptocurrency services. MAS is now seeking public feedback on draft legislative amendments to implement these requirements effectively. While the segregation and custody requirements for customer assets will reduce the risk of asset loss, MAS acknowledges that consumers may still face delays in recovering their assets if service providers become insolvent. The central bank emphasizes that regulations alone cannot protect consumers from all losses. In a separate consultation paper, MAS has proposed additional requirements for crypto service providers to address unfair trading practices. The central bank intends to outline legislative provisions and define wrongful conduct that could constitute offenses in the cryptocurrency market. Public comments on the proposed legislative amendments and regulatory measures to address market integrity risks will be accepted until August 3. The announcement by MAS has been well-received within the Singapore crypto industry. Lasanka Perera, the CEO of crypto exchange Independent Reserve Singapore, views it as a significant step forward for Singapore and the crypto industry as a whole. Perera notes that the regulatory measures instill trust and confidence, especially after recent industry setbacks. He believes that these requirements demonstrate the regulator's commitment to investor protection and will inspire greater confidence from corporate and institutional sectors interested in the crypto space. However, Perera also highlights that compliance with the new MAS requirements may require service providers to restructure parts of their businesses or operations, indicating that implementation may take time. Singapore's central bank has been steadily tightening regulations in the cryptocurrency sector. Last year, it restricted crypto exchanges from publicly advertising their services, and it has repeatedly warned retail customers about the risks associated with crypto trading, emphasizing that cryptocurrencies have no fundamental value. As Singapore takes these decisive regulatory steps, the crypto industry in the country is poised to mature further. The establishment of trust for customer assets and the restrictions on lending and staking services aim to foster investor confidence, safeguard assets, and promote a more secure and reliable crypto market in Singapore.