Daily Management Review

Singapore Says Retail Investors Are 'Irrationally Oblivious' To Cryptocurrency Risks And Plans Tougher Regulations


Singapore Says Retail Investors Are 'Irrationally Oblivious' To Cryptocurrency Risks And Plans Tougher Regulations
Singapore plans to implement proposed rules that will make it harder for retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies in a period when they appear to be "irrationally oblivious" to the risks, according to the country's central bank chief.
Despite warnings and measures, said Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), at an event on Monday, surveys show that consumers are increasingly trading in cryptocurrencies globally, not just in Singapore, drawn by the prospect of sharp price increases.
"They seem to be irrationally oblivious about the risks of cryptocurrency trading," he said.
"Adding frictions" on retail access to cryptocurrencies was an area the MAS was contemplating, he said.
"These may include customer suitability tests and restricting the use of leverage and credit facilities for cryptocurrency trading," he added at a seminar titled "Yes to digital asset innovation, No to cryptocurrency speculation."
Singapore's welcoming attitude has helped the financial hub attract digital asset services-related firms from China, India, and elsewhere in recent years, establishing it as a major Asian center.
However, recent defaults by some global cryptocurrency-related firms based in Singapore, many of which are not subject to the financial regulator's consumer protection or market conduct guidelines, have raised concerns about tighter regulation.
Menon stated that the MAS will seek public feedback on its proposals by October, and that regulators around the world are conducting their own reviews.
The MAS issued guidelines in January limiting cryptocurrency trading service providers' ability to promote their services to the general public.
Cryptocurrencies have plummeted this year as investors flee riskier assets as interest rates in the United States rise and inflation soars.
"MAS' facilitative posture on digital asset activities and restrictive stance on cryptocurrency speculation are not contradictory," Menon said.
Gemini, a US-based cryptocurrency exchange, and Huobi, a Chinese-focused cryptocurrency exchange, are among those with a significant presence in Singapore.
Under a new regime, approximately 180 crypto companies applied for a crypto payments licence with the MAS in 2020, but Singapore has only issued about two dozen licenses so far after an extensive due diligence process that is still ongoing.