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Investors 'Irrationally Oblivious' to Crypto Trading Risks: Singapore's Financial Regulator

In hopes of limiting high risk in the crypto sector, Singapore is looking to make it more difficult for retail investors to join the market.

2 min read
Gardens by the Bay, near Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. Image: Shutterstock

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank and financial watchdog, is considering adding extra protection for crypto users by making it more difficult to buy crypto. 

The MAS will begin exploring ways to add friction to retail access via customer suitability tests, limit access to credit facilities, and to reduce frivolous investments, according to the agency's managing director Ravi Menon

Menon said at the Green Shoots Seminar on Monday that despite "early decisive steps to mitigate consumer harm," many consumers still "seem to be irrationally oblivious about the risks of cryptocurrency trading." Still, an outright ban "is not likely to work," said Menon, as the industry is without borders and Singaporeans can access the market "with just a mobile phone." 

Though the agency continues to promote “Singapore as a fintech hub,” these ambitions shouldn’t trample over consumer protections. “Innovation and regulation are not incapable of co-existing,” he added. 

The MAS will also seek the involvement of international regulatory reviews, co-create various measures to minimize harm to investors, and urge people to practice caution before investing. 

Last month, the central bank first began mulling the idea of limiting investor participation, with the MAS chairman Tharman Shanmuharatnam also forecasting the above regulations.

“Since 2017, MAS has consistently warned that cryptocurrencies are not suitable investments for the retail public […] Recent events have vividly demonstrated the risks,” said Shanmuharatnam.

Singapore wrangles with crypto

This is far from the city-state's first encounter with cryptocurrencies.

In January, the financial authority cracked down on crypto advertisements, stating that firms “should not portray the trading of DPTs [digital payment tokens] in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading.”

The MAS has also been a key player in the investigation of Three Arrows Capital (3AC), a crypto hedge fund firm that has recently filed for bankruptcy, accusing the firm of “providing false information” in June. 3AC was also reprimanded for failing to notify the agency of changing “directorships and shareholdings of its directors."

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