Bitcoin Regulation in Singapore
The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country’s central bank, is pressing ahead with regulation that will bring a handful of retail payment services, including bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges, under a single legislation.
With an assertion on tuesday, the financial authority of singapore (mas) launched the second consultation on its fee offerings bill, a bills regulatory network featuring to streamline the regulation of all payment services underneath a unmarried legislation. drastically, the proposed bill is likewise seeking to convey virtual currency services, like bitcoin alternate systems, underneath regulatory purview. as regulator, the mas will have oversight to investigate cash laundering and terrorism financing risks as well as making sure safeguards for clients’ budget.
“The new framework will expand the scope of regulation to include domestic money transfers, merchant acquisition and the purchase and sale of virtual currencies,” reads an excerpt from MAS’ announcement. “Only payment activities that face customers or merchants, process funds or acquire transactions, and pose relevant regulatory concerns will need to be licensed.”
MAS managing director Ravi Menon said of the framework:
We want to put in place a forward-looking regulatory regime to encourage wider adoption of secure e-payment solutions. The novel, activity-based licensing framework aims to right-size regulatory requirements to address the risks posed by specific payment activities. This will help to protect consumers and merchants while creating an environment conducive for innovation in payment services.
The second consultation is now open to public feedback and will run up to January 8, 2018.
While Singapore’s largest bank (also state-owned) DBS labelled in recent weeks bitcoin a ponzi scheme, central bank chief Menon highlighted cryptocurrencies’ potential beyond a store of value in applications like cross-border payments. “If it [cross-border remittance] was going through a blockchain using cryptocurrencies, it could yield benefits,” Menon said. “That ought to be the question, rather than whether bitcoins or ether are going up in value or not,” he added, insisting that bitcoin itself did not pose any risks requiring regulation. Rather, it’s the activity around it, like a bitcoin exchange or trading platform that would see regulation, according to the central banker.
MAS clarifies regulatory position on the offer of digital tokens in Singapore
Singapore, 1 August 2017... The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified today that the offer or issue of digital tokens in Singapore will be regulated by MAS if the digital tokens constitute products regulated under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (SFA). MAS’ clarification comes in the wake of a recent increase in the number of initial coin (or token) offerings (ICOs) in Singapore as a means of raising funds.
2 A digital token is a cryptographically-secured representation of a token-holder's rights to receive a benefit or to perform specified functions. A virtual currency is one particular type of digital token, which typically functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account or a store of value.
3 ICOs are vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) risks due to the anonymous nature of the transactions, and the ease with which large sums of monies may be raised in a short period of time. MAS’ media release of 13 March 2014 had communicated that while virtual currencies per se were not regulated, intermediaries in virtual currencies would be regulated for ML/TF risks. MAS is currently assessing how to regulate ML/TF risks associated with activities involving digital tokens that do not function solely as virtual currencies.
4 MAS’ position of not regulating virtual currencies is similar to that of most jurisdictions. However, MAS has observed that the function of digital tokens has evolved beyond just being a virtual currency. For example, digital tokens may represent ownership or a security interest over an issuer’s assets or property. Such tokens may therefore be considered an offer of shares or units in a collective investment scheme1 under the SFA. Digital tokens may also represent a debt owed by an issuer and be considered a debenture under the SFA.
5 Where digital tokens fall within the definition of securities in the SFA, issuers of such tokens would be required to lodge and register a prospectus with MAS prior to the offer of such tokens, unless exempted. Issuers or intermediaries of such tokens would also be subject to licensing requirements under the SFA and Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110), unless exempted, and the applicable requirements on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. In addition, platforms facilitating secondary trading of such tokens would also have to be approved or recognised by MAS as an approved exchange or recognised market operator respectively under the SFA.
6 The types of digital tokens offered in Singapore and elsewhere vary widely. Some offers may be subject to the SFA while others may not be. All issuers of digital tokens, intermediaries facilitating or advising on an offer of digital tokens, and platforms facilitating trading in digital tokens should therefore seek independent legal advice to ensure they comply with all applicable laws, and consult MAS where appropriate.
1 Examples of schemes falling under the revised definition of a collective investment scheme are found in Section 3 of the Consultation Paper on Proposals to Enhance Regulatory Safeguards for Investors in the Capital Markets, July 2014.
What Wikipedia says
In December 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reportedly stated that "[w]hether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene.":Singapore
On September 22, 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warned users of the risks associated with using bitcoin stating "If bitcoin ceases to operate, there may not be an identifiable party responsible for refunding their monies or for them to seek recourse" and in December 2013 stated "Whether or not businesses accept Bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene" In January 2014, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore issued a series of tax guidelines according to which Bitcoin transactions may be treated as a barter exchange if it is used as a payment method for real goods and services. Businesses that deal with Bitcoin currency exchanges will be taxed based on their Bitcoin sales.
Virtual Currencies as Mode of Payment
Generally, businesses that accept virtual currencies as payment for goods or services should record the sale based on the open market value of the goods or services in Singapore dollars. The same applies for businesses which pay for goods or services using virtual currencies.
If the open market value of the goods or services that would have otherwise been exchanged in Singapore dollars cannot be determined (e.g. the good or service is only traded with virtual currencies), the virtual currency exchange rate at the point of the transaction may be used.
Trading in Virtual Currencies
Businesses that buy and sell virtual currencies in the ordinary course of their business will be taxed on the profit derived from trading in the virtual currency. Profits derived by businesses which mine and trade virtual currencies in exchange for money are also subject to tax.
Businesses that buy virtual currencies for long-term investment purposes may enjoy a capital gain from the disposal of these virtual currencies. However, as there are no capital gains taxes in Singapore, such gains are not subject to tax.
Whether gains from disposal of virtual currencies are trading or capital gains depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Factors such as purpose, frequency of transactions, and holding periods are considered when determining if such gains are taxable. For more information, please refer to Determining the Existence of a Trade.