Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has received a full payments license from Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The Major Payment Institution (MPI) license will allow Coinbase to offer digital payment token services to individuals and institutions in Singapore, which has become a hub for crypto in Asia.
Singapore has attracted digital asset companies from countries like China and India, making it an important market for Coinbase. According to survey data, 32% of Singaporeans own or have owned cryptocurrencies. However, recent collapses at crypto firms, including hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, have dampened enthusiasm for the industry. Singapore’s state investment firm, Temasek, even reduced the pay of the team that recommended a $275 million investment in now-bankrupt FTX.
The MAS only grants licenses to cryptocurrency firms that have strong anti-money laundering controls, and most applicants have not been successful. So far, 14 companies, including the Singapore branches of fintech Revolut and crypto firm Blockchain.com, have obtained a crypto payments license.
In August 2022, the MAS announced plans to introduce regulations that would make it more difficult for retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies. The move comes as retail investors appear to be “irrationally oblivious” to the risks involved in cryptocurrency speculation, according to Ravi Menon, managing director of the MAS.
Coinbase’s new payments license in Singapore is a significant milestone for the exchange and will allow it to expand its services to individuals and institutions in the country. Singapore’s regulatory environment and growing interest in cryptocurrencies make it an attractive market for Coinbase and other digital asset companies. However, the industry still faces challenges, including regulatory scrutiny and the need to address investor concerns about the stability and security of cryptocurrencies.