Singapore bans using credit cards for crypto trading

abdelaziz Fathi

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is set to introduce a series of stringent measures aimed at tightening regulations for cryptocurrency service providers in the nation.

Among the most notable changes is the prohibition of using locally issued credit cards for cryptocurrency payments as the city-state takes another step to rein in the digital assets sector. Singapore already bans using credit lines to fund cryptocurrency purchases.

The announcement on Thursday clarifies the MAS’s position, following its proposal in October 2022 to mitigate the risks associated with cryptocurrency trading. The regulations will cover various aspects, including business conduct, consumer access, and technology and cyber risk management. These measures are a response to the feedback on the MAS’s proposed regulations and aim to shield consumers from potential harm that can arise from cryptocurrency transactions.

The finalized regulations, which are scheduled to roll out in stages starting from mid-2024, dictate that digital payment token (DPT) service providers cannot accept payments made through locally issued credit or charge cards. This move is intended to curb easy access to debt financing for purchasing cryptocurrencies, aligning with MAS’s goal to deter credit-based crypto purchases.

Ho Hern Shin, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision), MAS, said, “DPT service providers have the obligation to safeguard the interests of consumers who interact with their platforms and use their services. While these business conduct and consumer access measures can help meet this objective, they cannot insulate customers from losses associated with the inherently speculative and highly risky nature of cryptocurrency trading. We urge consumers to remain vigilant and exercise utmost caution when dealing in DPT services, and to not deal with unregulated entities, including those based overseas.”

MAS’s rules will also require crypto companies to assess customers’ risk awareness before providing service access, forbid trading incentives and credit financing, and exclude cryptocurrencies from net worth calculations for retail investors. Furthermore, service providers will need to disclose conflicts of interest, adhere to strict token listing policies, implement customer complaint procedures, and manage technology risks effectively.

While MAS has categorized crypto as a high-risk investment due to its volatility, the authority has also demonstrated a willingness to accommodate the growth of the crypto industry. Licenses have been granted to Ripple and Coinbase, allowing them to provide digital payment token services in Singapore. Additionally, MAS has explored digital asset interoperability through collaboration with major banks and crypto companies, as evidenced by a recent whitepaper.

The latest regulatory measures reflect Singapore’s ongoing efforts to balance innovation within the crypto sector with the need to protect retail consumers. The MAS has taken a less prescriptive approach compared to jurisdictions like Hong Kong, allowing crypto exchanges some flexibility in setting their token listing criteria, provided they maintain transparency and have customer dispute resolution mechanisms in place.

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