On 28 June 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that it will issue up to five new digital bank licences, which will effectively open digital banking business to non-bank players in Singapore. Announcing the measures at the 46th Annual Dinner of The Association of Banks in Singapore, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Chairman of MAS, said that “the new digital bank licences mark the next chapter in Singapore’s banking liberalisation journey. They will ensure that Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient, competitive and vibrant.” MAS expects to invite applications for the licences in August 2019.
On 6 June 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a Consultation Paper on proposed anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements which will apply to most payment service providers (PS Providers). Submissions close on 5 July 2019. The relevant AML/CFT requirements are set out in the following Notices (AML/CFT Notices) to be issued by MAS and come after the passing of the Payment Services Act (PS Act) on 14 January 2019 (see our bulletin here):
- Notice to Payment Services Providers (Specified Payment Services) on Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (applies to all activities that carry money laundering/financing of terrorism (ML/FT) risks except digital payment token (DPT) services); and
- Notice to Payment Services Providers (Digital Payment Token Service) on Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (applies to DPT services).
In this bulletin we cover the following key developments in the payments and fintech space:
- Payment Services Bill: On 14 January 2019, the Payment Services Bill (Bill) was passed by the Singapore Parliament. When it comes into force, the Payment Services Act (as the enacted Bill will be known) will introduce two regulatory frameworks: a designation scheme which enables the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to designate significant payment systems for financial stability reasons, and a licensing regime which allows MAS to regulate a wider range of payment services, including cryptocurrency dealing and exchange services, in a proportionate manner depending on the scope and scale of the provider’s services.
- Sandbox Express: On 14 November 2018, MAS released a consultation paper on Sandbox Express, which comprises of a set of to pre-defined sandboxes to complement the existing approach of customised sandboxes.
- Digital Token Offerings: On 3 December 2018, MAS updated its Guide to Digital Token Offerings which provides general guidance on the application of the securities laws administered by MAS to offers or issues of digital tokens in Singapore.
For more information on the key developments in the payments and fintech space and the implications of the Payment Services Bill, Sandbox Express and Guide to Digital Token Offerings, please see our full bulletin here.
The banking industry has undergone rapid change in recent years with the rise of virtual currency, fintech and digital innovation challenging the status quo. One of the key developments emerging in the last couple of years is the concept of Open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for use in the banking industry, or Open Banking. Continue reading
There has been a significant increase in interest in, and the use of, cryptocurrencies in recent times. Cryptocurrencies are essentially de-centralised virtual currencies, which are not linked to any particular country, nor regulated by any central bank or monetary authority.
In late December 2017, the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) decided that the nation’s first dispute involving cryptocurrency merits a full trial. While this case does not involve questions of the legality of cryptocurrency itself, it involves issues relating to the manner in which such cryptocurrencies are traded. Continue reading
Just before Christmas Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd, a Singapore incorporated company, entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the United States Department of Justice. The DPA provides for payment of penalties of over US$400 million. The penalties are to be divided between the United States Treasury and the governments of Brazil and Singapore. Continue reading
On 1 August 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified through a media release that an offer or issue of digital tokens would be regulated if these tokens constitute products which are regulated under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA). In doing so, the MAS sent a strong signal that it would focus on the substance of the transaction, even if it is presented within the “cryptocurrency” wrapper.
MAS’ clarification comes in the wake of an increase in the number of initial coin or token offerings (ICOs) in Singapore. In June 2017, it was reported that blockchain startup TenX had raised close to US$80 million from a token sale. A Singapore based startup, Cofound.it, also launched the sale of its own digital currency in May 2017 to fund building of its blockchain-based platform to connect start-ups with investors and experts for funding and advice. Further ICOs are reported to be planned later this year.
This bulletin provides an introduction into ICOs and touches upon some of the market developments and regulatory issues surrounding ICOs and digital tokens. Please click here for more details.