Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has opened the doors for the cryptocurrency industry to develop in the country if it’s regulated. According to the central bank’s chief, quoted by Bloomberg, assets like stablecoins could have a ‘useful’ role in future finance.
“There may be a role for crypto in future finance that extends beyond pure speculation and illicit finance,” Shanmugaratnam commented. However, he also pointed out the need to regulate these kinds of assets to tackle illicit activities performed through cryptos like money laundering. Since 2018, the number of cryptocurrency-related crimes in Singapore has skyrocketed, and the increase does not appear to be slowing any time soon. It was reported by The Straits Times that there were 393 reports made last year of cases involving crypto frauds, cheating, among others, which is more than three times what there was in 2019.
Moreover, the authorities pointed out that just 125 complaints were filed with the police, representing another increase from the 15 reported in 2018. Furthermore, these crypto-related crime cases resulted in thefts of $29 million between 2018 and 2020.
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Open-Minded Stance on Cryptos
Still, Shanmugaratnam argued that the Singaporean central bank keeps its ‘open mind’ stance for cryptocurrencies in the country.
“I think the future will be one where regulated stablecoins will have a useful role. A traditional payment system that innovates and becomes more inter-operable across borders for cheap, fast, and instant payments will be an important part of that space, plus possibly some role for other independent innovators in the system,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The central bank chief’s words could imply a turnaround in Singapore’s rhetoric around cryptos, as the MAS had repeatedly been replicating the warning of cryptos as a high-risk investment. Still, the country recently granted a license to the brokerage arm of DBS Bank Ltd., an Australia-based crypto exchange.