Last week, Singapore gave in-principle approval for the digital payment token license for along with 2 others – Genesis and Sparrow, to offer crypto services in the country. 

Cryptocurrencies are regulated as Digital Payment Tokens (DPTs) under the Payment Services Act 2019 (PSA). Any company that wants to offer crypto services should obtain ‘Digital Payment Token Service’ under either the Standard Payment Institution (SPI) or the Major Payment Institution (MPI) license. These are provided by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which enacted the PSA. 

These licenses or guidelines are to ensure businesses in Singapore meet certain regulatory and risk management standards, such as money laundering, terrorism financing risks, and technology risks. They also have strict KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) requirements to qualify for the license.

Currently, over 160 entities have applied for the license, and only 14 have received either the license or an in-principle approval (IPA) to provide such services. Over a 100 have been rejected, and some major crypto exchanges such as Binance and Bybit have withdrawn their applications. In terms of operations, there does not appear to be any difference between a license-holder and an in-principle approval.

Here’s a short summary of the 14 players who are either licensed or have obtained an in-principle approval.

Companies licensed under the PSA to provide DPT services (and their SPI/MPI dates)
  1. DBS Vickers (MPI: Oct 2021) – DBS Vickers is the brokerage arm of DBS Bank. The license enables DBS to support institutions to trade cryptocurrencies through the DBS Digital Exchange, but the bank will not be extending its services to retail investors.
  2. Independent Reserve (MPI: Sept 2021) – An Australian-founded cryptocurrency exchange. The cryptocurrencies offered by Independent Reserve include Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and other major cryptocurrencies.
  3. Fomo Pay (MPI: Sept 2021) – A fintech institution which provides integrated payment solutions to partner firms such as merchants and retailers. Currently, merchants who allow crypto payments are charged a lower transaction fee compared to their counterparts.
  4. Coinhako (MPI: May 2022) – Enables storing, trading and transactions of cryptocurrencies.
  5. Triple A (SPI: Nov 2021) – The firm enables clients to trade cryptocurrencies, conduct cross-border transactions and accept cryptocurrency payments.
Companies with in-principle approval license to provide DPT services (and their IPA dates)
  1. (IPA: June 2022)  – Perhaps one of the most iconic crypto brands, is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade, store and make cryptocurrency transactions.
  2. Genesis (IPA: June 2022) – Provides an integrated cryptocurrency platform with services such as trading, lending and custodial functions.
  3. Sparrow (IPA: June 2022) – Sparrow is a digital assets trading platform which also provides structured and white-labelled products in Singapore.
  4. Digital Treasures Center (DTC) (IPA: Mar 2022) – DTC provides an alternative payment solution for merchants, which is secure, faster and cost-efficient as compared to traditional payment solutions.
  5. Hodlnaut (IPA: Mar 2022) – Hodlnaut is a cryptocurrency borrowing and lending platform that also allows cryptocurrency swaps.
  6. Paxos (IPA: Mar 2022) – Paxos operates as a cryptocurrency brokerage and custodian. It also builds cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure for clients who wish to offer their own cryptocurrency products.
  7. Luno (Apr 2022) – Luno empowers clients to buy, store and learn about cryptocurrencies. 
  8. Sygnum (Mar 2022) – Sygnum is a Switzerland based digital assets bank which offers white-listed DeFi pools and expanded staking services for profit, on top of asset management and commercial partnerships with blockchain ecosystems for clients.
  9. Revolut (Apr 2022) – Revolut allows customers to deposit fiat currencies and convert them into cryptocurrencies.

As mentioned in our “Why are crypto companies moving from Singapore to Dubai?” article, Singapore’s regulatory stance on cryptocurrencies has not changed. Although the MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, it holds that the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public, and should only be done by experts in the field.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].