The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued new guidelines discouraging service providers of digital payment tokens (DPT), commonly known as cryptocurrencies, from promoting their services to the general public or trivializing the risky nature of DPT trading in Singapore. The guidelines take effect immediately.
In a January 17, 2022, press release, the MAS noted that some DPT service providers have been actively promoting their services through online and physical advertisements or through the provision of physical automated teller machines (ATMs) in public areas, which could encourage consumers to trade DPTs on impulse without fully understanding the attendant risks. The MAS warned that trading DPTs is highly risky and not suitable for the general public as DPT prices are subject to sharp speculative swings. Accordingly, the general public should not be encouraged to engage in the trading of DPTs.
The MAS stated that while it strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases, it views the trading of cryptocurrencies as highly risky and not suitable for the general public. DPT service providers should therefore not portray the trading of DPTs in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading in DPTs or engage in marketing activities that target the general public.
The new guidelines generally apply to DPT service providers that have been granted a license under the Payment Services Act (PSA), banks, and all other financial institutions providing DPT services in Singapore, as well as DPT service providers that are currently operating under the transitional exemption. Under the PSA, DPT services include buying or selling DPTs or facilitating the exchange of DPTs. When the amendments to the PSA become effective, the definition of DPT services will be expanded to include the transfer of DPTs, provision of custodian wallet services for DPTs, and facilitating the exchange of DPTs without possession of moneys or DPTs by the DPT service provided.
The new guidelines clarify MAS’s expectations that DPT service providers should not engage in marketing or advertising of DPT services:
DPT service providers can only market or advertise on their own corporate websites, mobile applications, or official social media accounts but must not trivialize the risks of trading in DPTs in a manner that is inconsistent with or contradicts the risk disclosures under the PSA.
The MAS stressed that DPT service providers should conduct themselves with the understanding that trading of DPTs is not suitable for the general public. In view of the rapidly changing landscape for DPT services in Singapore, the MAS stated that it will continue to review the provision of DPT services to the public by DPT service providers and may update the guidelines as necessary.
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Wai Ming Yap