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Bitcoin Regulation and Bitcoin Tax in Singapore

The financial authority controlled by the government in Singapore is the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) and is basically the central bank the chief of which has indicated on their website that they have no plans to regulate cryptocurrencies.

During Question time in the Singapore government (Question Number 658 3 rd October 2017) the question was asked regarding the prevalence use of cryptocurrency in Singapore and measures to regulate cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings. The long answer was basically some brief information on what crypto currencies were and how they were used and then went on to point out:

“3. MAS has been monitoring the use of such virtual currencies.  Their use is not prevalent in Singapore – about 20 Singapore retailers like restaurants and online shops currently accept Bitcoins 1 . This is unlike places like Japan, where the use is more popular. Likewise, in the Singapore financial industry, use of virtual currencies as a mode of payment is not significant. Trading is generally for speculative investment purposes, and the volume is low 2  compared to other countries such as US, Japan and Hong Kong.

4. Similar to most jurisdictions, MAS does not regulate such virtual currencies per se. However we regulate the activities that surround them if those activities fall within our more general ambit as financial regulator.  Let me give two examples. First, virtual currencies, due to the anonymous nature of the transactions, can be exploited for money laundering and terrorism financing risks. MAS are working on a new payment services regulatory framework that will address these risks.

6. A second example is fund-raising. Virtual currencies can go beyond being a means of payment, and evolve into “second generation” tokens representing benefits such as ownership in assets, like a share or bond certificate. The sale of such “second generation” tokens to raise funds is commonly known as an initial coin offering or ICO (“ICO”). A number of ICOs have been structured out of Singapore in recent months.”

This was followed up during an interview with Bloomberg, Ravi Menon, the Managing Director of MAS stated that he sees “no basis for wanting to regulate cryptocurrencies. It is a known fact that cryptocurrencies are quite often abused for illicit financing purposes. And so we do want to have anti money laundering controls, countering the financing of terrorism controls in place. So those requirements apply to activity around cryptocurrency rather than the cryptocurrency itself, but the bank is working on a set of regulations for exchanges to reduce criminal activities such as money laundering.

A few weeks before, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s minister for MAS, advised that there was no intention to regulate crypto currencies in Singapore. However the sale of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) will be regulated as they are considered financial activities that falls under MAS’ regulatory ambit. Hence, on 1 August 2017, MAS clarified that if a token is structured in the form of securities, the ICO must comply with existing securities laws aimed at safeguarding investors’ interest. So the requirements of having to register a prospectus, obtain intermediary or exchange operator licences, will apply. These intermediaries must also comply with existing rules on anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing.

Singapore is currently then one of the freer nations with little or no restrictions on the use of cryptocurrencies.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as financial information for any purposes such as investment or speculation and it is the responsibility of the reader to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any of the information provided. We recommend that you consult with a licensed, qualified investment advisor before making any investment decisions.