KrASIA: Scores of businesses fail to win licenses from city-state’s financial regulator

KrASIA: Scores of businesses fail to win licenses from city-state’s financial regulator

Crypto entrepreneurs find Singapore is not so hospitable after all

Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs lured to Singapore by its apparent openness to the burgeoning industry are discovering just how difficult it is to legally operate in the city-state.

More than 100 of the around 170 businesses that applied for licenses to offer “digital payment token services” have now been turned down or withdrawn their applications, according to the latest figures from regulators.

And scores more face an uncertain future, operating under exemptions but amid a darkening mood over the approval process.

In early September, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, to stop providing services to residents in the city-state, and last week Binance’s Singapore-only affiliate announced it also was shutting down its trading platform for the city-state. Dozens are confronting a similar fate.

Dubai-based crypto exchange Bitxmi is one of 103 companies that appear on the latest MAS list of entities whose exemptions allowing them to operate have been removed. Having set up in Singapore in late 2018, it was unsuccessful in securing a license, chief executive officer Sanjay Jain told Nikkei Asia.

“We can’t operate in Singapore,” he said. “We have an office there, but it’s just more or less—there’s one person for our accounting and legal issues.”

Jain declined to speak about why his outfit did not manage to secure a license from regulators. “That, you need to ask them,” he said.

The introduction of the licensing regime in January was cast as the next step in building a thriving crypto sector and set up a contrast with Singapore’s rival Asian financial hub, Hong Kong, which had taken a more skeptical approach to crypto businesses.

Graph by Nikkei Asia.

A spokesperson for MAS told Nikkei that it is supportive of innovation in the use of blockchain technology, which underpins cryptocurrencies, while also recognizing the risks.

“Cryptocurrencies could be abused for money laundering, terrorism financing, or proliferation financing due to the speed and cross-border nature of the transactions,” the spokesperson said. “Digital payment token service providers in Singapore … have to comply with requirements to mitigate such risks, including the need to carry out proper customer due diligence, conduct regular account reviews, and monitor and report suspicious transactions.”

Rahul Advani, Asia-Pacific policy director at blockchain company Ripple, said Singapore’s stance on digital assets has resulted in the city-state being one of the most advanced and mature nations in the field, helping foster development and innovation in the emerging industry.

“It’s very clear where digital assets and related activities lie on the risk spectrum, so you mitigate the potential of developing and investing in technology that is unregulated,” he told Nikkei.

Crypto players that raced to set up in Singapore run the spectrum from exchange platforms for trading bitcoin, Ethereum, and other tokens, through investment managers and financial advisers looking after digital asset portfolios for the wealthy, to business-to-business outfits helping corporate clients accept cryptocurrency payments.

Outfits that were operating in the country prior to the introduction of the licensing regime were granted exemptions until the outcome of their license application is known. Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told parliament in July that there were 90 companies operating under such exemptions.

The MAS website showed that the group had shrunk to about 70 as of December 14.

So far, only three players—DBS Vickers Securities, a unit of Singapore and Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS Group Holdings; digital payments startup FOMO Pay; and Australia’s Independent Reserve, which offers crypto exchange services—have been listed on the MAS website as licensed entities.

Two others—Coinhako, which operates a crypto exchange platform, and TripleA, a payments company—have put out announcements themselves saying they have acquired the necessary approvals to operate.

Anndy Lian, chairman of Netherlands-registered crypto trading platform BigONE Exchange, told Nikkei that his outfit does not intend to apply for a license in Singapore presently.

“The whole process of selecting who to give the license to is not very transparent,” he said. “It gives the impression that the government is favoring big players and foreign exchanges.”

MAS has not publicly disclosed why specific crypto players were unable to obtain a permit.

But Nikkei understands that some of them did not have the capacity or infrastructure to meet the high compliance standards set out by the financial regulator to deter money laundering and financing of terrorism.

“Cryptocurrencies are currently being used to channel the earnings of everything from ransomware proceeds, the sale of narcotics to some of the most horrific crimes, including human trafficking,” said Rachel Woolley, head of financial crime at client management solutions provider Fenergo.

“Regulators have now entered this space in an effort to protect the financial services industry from illicit activity in much the same way that activity involving fiat currency must be monitored.”

MAS pointed to comments from its managing director, Ravi Menon, who has said that Singapore does not need 160 players in the crypto sector and it may be better to have “half of them” operating at very high standards.

TripleA told Nikkei that in securing its permit, it had to ensure that its operating procedures for risk assessment, customer due diligence, record-keeping, suspicious transaction reporting, auditing, and training were up to snuff.

But its CEO, Eric Barbier, said TripleA gained little insight into what exactly made the difference between success and failure.

“MAS never talks. MAS asks questions and questions and questions,” he said. “You can ask questions but they will not answer, and most regulators are like this.”

Barbier reckoned that being a business serving other businesses may have helped secure a license. “Especially for consumer-to-consumer, like consumer exchanges and so on, the risk of money laundering is very high, so they need to demonstrate to MAS that they are able to mitigate all those risks accordingly,” he said.

Peiying Chua, financial regulation partner for Singapore at the law firm Linklaters, said it is unlikely MAS is specifically favoring big, incumbent financial players: “Likely reasons for unsuccessful applicants may include a lack of track record or key personnel without adequate experience, a lack of a sustainable business model or serious adverse records relating to directors and key individuals.”

“The regulatory approach by MAS may to some degree stifle innovation in smaller entrepreneurs and sift out smaller virtual asset service providers that may not be able to comply with the regulations,” said Quek Li Fei, partner at law firm CNPLaw.

But he added it “provides a more forward-thinking approach toward encouraging legitimate innovation and entrepreneurship in cryptocurrency and digital asset businesses, with a reasonable level of protection to investors.”

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It’s republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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Thanks for the mention at World Smart City Expo 2019

Thanks for the mention at World Smart City Expo 2019

World Smart City Expo is the largest Smart City related exhibition in Asia hosted by Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, LH, K Water and Kintex.

Anndy Lian, Author of Blockchain Revolution 2030 and an Advisor for intergovernmental organisation is the moderator of the session who started by sharing how smart cities are redefined with the injection of new technology: ”When I first heard about Smart cities from United Nations more than a decade ago, I thought we would have never made it so far. Right now, with the inputs from new technologies such as blockchain, it makes a lot more sense. Country leaders that I am giving advise too are also seeing it from a different perspective right now. They are all willing to look beyond their comfort zone using new technologies, and when we talked about smart cities, most people spoke about energy, sustainability, infrastructure – How about playing smarter and using games as part of the whole adoption structure?”

Martin gave his new insights on how gamification and blockchain can create better adoption after the smart cities are built: ”Gaimin.io is structured to do this. Within smart cities, there are smart homes, and in the homes, you can see a lot of devices connecting. Gaimin’s software can use the data, bridge the connectivity, perhaps using games to allow users of smart cities to earn smart tokens to pay off some of their bills. We foresee that smart city users need time to adapt to the new environment and get used to the new technology, Gaimin incentive structure and its “fun” nature will entice more people to adopt faster and give them a better experience.”

“Ea3w.com is the leading Chinese media company for online procurement service and consumer electronics buying guide; they provided their her opinions on smart electronics. We have been looking forward to seeing how smart electronics can show off their full potential in smart cities of the future. At the same time, I also agree with Anndy that smart cities need more attenton and additional funds. STO exchanges like SingDax and Coinbase will help in some extent to build the smart cities faster.” – Jenny Zheng, Partner of Ea3w.com (Formerly owned by Columbia Broadcasting System – CBS) mentioned during her speech.

The expo has more than 21,000 attendees from 200 cities in 60 countries worldwide; some attendees include Minister of Korea, esteem foreign VIPs like government officials Taiwan, Europe, America, and South Africa amongst others.

 

Read full text at:

https://www.newson6.com/story/41041824/gaimins-gamification-in-the-context-of-smart-cities

or

Gaimin’s Gamification in the context of smart cities

 

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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Thankful for the panel coverage at the Smart City Expo 2019.

Thankful for the panel coverage at the Smart City Expo 2019.

Thankful for the panel coverage at the Smart City Expo 2019.

Mr Anndy Lian, Book Author of Blockchain Revolution 2030 and also an Ambassador to Blockchain Special Committee of the Gyeongsangbuk-do summarised all the points made: “Smart cities are urban area that uses Internet of things to collect data and manage the lives and cities more efficiently. Enhancing the quality and performance of components such as transportation and utilities. Digital solutions and new technologies such as blockchain will help solve the trust issues and achieve higher quality of life inside the smart cities. Also the other topic we should look at is how STOs can help fund smart cities and how a regulated digital exchange can facilitate such fund raising. In Singapore, upcoming regulated property asset-backed exchange- SingDax is looking at this and they will surely change the industry. I am looking forward to this.”

https://www.newschannelnebraska.com/story/41022045/inside-smart-cities-blockchain-innovation-adoption-and-reality

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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