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Singapore's central bank includes Bitcoin in the peculiar regulation of payment services

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country's central bank, is putting forward a regulation that will bring a handful of retail payment services, including the exchange of bitcoins and cryptocurrency, under a single piece of legislation.

With an announcement on Tuesday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched the second consultation on its Payment Services Bill, a payments regulation network proposing to streamline the regulation of all services of payment. Notably, the bill also aims to put virtual currency services, such as bitcoin exchange platforms, under regulation. As regulator, MAS will be responsible for monitoring the risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing and ensuring the protection of consumer funds.

Once promulgated, payment companies, as well as bitcoin exchanges, will be required to hold only one license under the new regulatory framework.

"The new framework will expand the scope of the regulations to include domestic money transfers, acquisition of merchants and the purchase and sale of virtual currencies", reads in an excerpt from the MAS announcement. "Only payment activities that concern customers or merchants, process funds or acquire transactions, and raise relevant regulatory issues will have to be allowed."

MAS Director General Ravi Menon said of the setting:

We want to put in place a future-oriented regulatory regime to encourage broader adoption of secure electronic payment solutions. The new business-based licensing framework aims to adapt regulatory requirements to the risks associated with specific payment activities. This will help protect consumers and merchants while creating an environment conducive to innovation in payment services.

The second consultation is now open to public comment and will continue until January 8, 2018.

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While the largest Singaporean bank (also state-owned) has tagged a ponzi program in recent weeks, central bank chief Menon has highlighted the potential of cryptocurrencies. "If [cross-border remittance] went through a blockchain using cryptocurrencies, that could have benefits," said Menon. "This should be the question, rather than whether bitcoins or the ether are gaining value or not," he added, insisting that bitcoin posed no risk requiring regulation. On the contrary, it is the activity that surrounds it, such as a bitcoin exchange or a trading platform that would see regulation, according to the central banker.

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