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Singapore, Canada Central Banks Conduct First Cross Border Blockchain Digital Currency Exchange

Singapore, Canada Central Banks Conduct First Cross Border Blockchain Digital Currency Exchange

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Canada have set the trend becoming the first central banks to use DLT for a digital cross border payment.

MAS linked up with its Canadian counterpart Project Jasper via its own pilot payment network Project UBin in a cooperative attempt to lower the cost of cross-border payments via blockchain, and also speeding up the process of transmission and reception.

Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, said that the two projects were following on from an ongoing collaboration between the two country’s central banks and commented: “Together, these projects have addressed many technical questions and brought the technology to a higher level of maturity.”

Scott Hendry, the Bank of Canada’s senior special director of financial technology said that forward planning for more cooperation between the banks was an essential ingredient for future success in lowering costs and enhancing efficiency in cross border payments.

“Only through continued collaboration and fundamental research will it be possible for this technology to mature and for policymakers to fully understand its potential.”

A senior financial specialist at the World Bank has released a paper which agrees that distributed ledger technology could help bring down remittance costs and improve cross-border payments compliance. The World bank blog also states the “industry is ripe for disruption“, citing DLT as being well positioned to make its mark.

One major area of concern expressed by the World Bank which was seen as a hurdle to the take up of DLT in this sector was a general distrust of such solutions due to industry concerns and misunderstanding regarding the nature of cryptocurrency, borne from the same technology.

 

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Two Men Charged as Dubious OneCoin Hits Singapore

Two Men Charged as Dubious OneCoin Hits Singapore

OneCoin, a cryptocurrency listed as fraudulent in the US, has become the subject of a court case in Singapore with two men currently held under arrest for promoting a multi-level marketing scheme.

The men currently being held are facing charges for incorporating a company called One Concept Pte Ltd in violation of Singapore’s Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Selling (Prohibition) Act. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have listed OneCoin and One Concept Pte Ltd on the Investor Alert List (IAL).

A news release over the arrests stated: “the fact that a company is listed on the IAL does not necessarily mean that it has breached any of MAS’ regulations. However, investors should bear in mind that these entities have had a past record of being wrongly perceived by others as being licensed by the MAS when they are not.”

New Zealand is another country which has issued a warning regarding OneCoin in the past. In this case was revealed by the Commercial Affairs Department that the scheme involved the purchasing of educational courses and promotional tokens which could be used to mine OneCoins, a Bulgarian created token with features similar to Bitcoin.

The Singapore Police Force has warned the public about the risks of being involved in any One Concept Pte Ltd marketing schemes and OneCoin itself. If convicted the two men face a maximum jail term of up to five years or a stiff fine which could be as much as USD 200,000.

Singapore has a limited history of cryptocurrency-related crime. The last major case involved a claim of some BTC 3,085 due to a trade reversal by Quoine exchange in 2017 when market maker B2C2 sued Quoine for the unauthorized reversal of 7 trade orders amounting to BTC 3,092, placed by the plaintiff on the defendant’s exchange platform.

 

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Singapore Token Day Puts Crypto Center Stage on Bitcoin’s 10th Birthday

Singapore Token Day celebrated Bitcoin’s 10th anniversary with its own event to promote cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption on the South East Asian peninsula.

The organizers promised that Singapore Token Day would be a national event lasting over two weeks between 31 October to 18 November, with a view to informing the uninitiated about all things cryptocurrency. The hope is that the event will give Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a springboard to increase its profile among the public.

Earlier this year, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched a blockchain challenge rewarding winning projects with development funding as part of its long-term plan to back cryptocurrencies and new technology. The city center has become a venue for cryptocurrency promotional events. In May, eyebrows were raised on the day when Bitcoin banknotes appeared at a major shopping center, readily available in denominations of BTC 0.01 (USD 98) and BTC 0.05 (USD 485), each containing a Samsung Semiconductor S3D350A chip.

This event has attracted 30 large retailers to Chinatown and allowed customers to purchase goods and services using a range of cryptocurrencies using organizer Bizkey’s Point of Sale (POS) device. This week hopes to raise the numbers of Singaporeans using Bitcoin, while also encouraging companies to improve their services through DLT.

Bizkey estimate that 10,000-15,000 Singaporeans own one or more cryptocurrencies. Although it is not yet widely used in the retail sector, the government continues to keep cryptocurrency on its legislative radar due to its obvious advantages in reducing the cost of money transfers and the speeding up transaction processes.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been largely responsible for cryptocurrency’s increase in popularity, due in part to a clarification at the end of last year which outlined the distinctions between different tokens and their uses. The result was an increase in ICOs in the first few months of 2018 with 56 being offered in the city raising more than USD 1 billion in total from institutional and retail cryptocurrency investors – a huge increase on the previous year.

The local market has been further buoyed over the past few weeks by the news that South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb sold majority control for USD 354 million to a Singapore-based medical group. Bk Global Consortium acquired the 51% share in the exchange necessary to give it overall control. The deal was signed by BK International Consortium, a blockchain investment company formed by BK International, a plastic surgical procedures clinical team in Singapore.

 

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Singaporean Financial Regulator to Help Crypto Exchanges with Wary Banks

The Singaporean financial regulator has stated that it is willing to support cryptocurrency firms that are having problems with setting up bank accounts in the city.

Some crypto firms have complained against Singapore’s banking system which they argue has resulted in account closures or companies simply not being able to open business accounts. This has resulted in the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) stepping in an attempt to alleviate the problem.

MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon that has said that from the point of view of the banks, he can understand their concerns, arguing they should not allow “an extremely lax regulatory environment in order to attract that kind of business”, referring to the cryptocurrency industry. He added:

“What we are trying to do is to bring the banks and cryptocurrency fintech startups together to see if there is some understanding they can reach… I hope we can bring minds together on this so that we can get over this hurdle.”

Singapore has expressed in the past that it has no desire to follow the Japanese pro-crypto stance on cryptocurrency but on the other hand, is keen to push fintech forward in order create tech jobs and boost the economy. This, however, doesn’t include embracing crypto exchanges in the same way that Japan has. This view is clearly reflected in the stance that many of Singapore’s banks have taken. Menon defends this concern arguing:

“The nature of this business is a bit different, so banks may need to employ other ways in which they can establish bona fide… some of these activities are indeed quite opaque. I would not blame the banks for not opening the bank accounts.”

The problem is not unique to Singapore, as banks in other countries have been reticent to offer services to crypto firms due to concerns about money laundering and financial crime, despite numerous claims that figures are exaggerated. Even European counties such as the Irish Republic have had similar problems where banks have closed crypto exchange accounts.

However, blockchain development is fast becoming a major part of Singapore’s fintech environment. With the recent news that Singapore-based Venture Capital firm Golden Gate Ventures is to launch a $10 million fund targeting crypto and blockchain startups, the country continues to push forward with its DLT investment, with one eye on crypto.

 

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Nasdaq Links With Singapore Stock Market in DvP Project

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) have announced a collaboration with Nasdaq as a key partner.

MAS, which functions as Singapore’s central bank has partnered with Nasdaq, Deloitte, and Anquan to develop the technology to impart “Delivery versus Payment” (DvP) capabilities for tokenized asset settlement. According to MAS this will allow for;

“…simultaneous exchange and final settlement of tokenised digital currencies and securities assets, improving operational efficiency and reducing settlement risks.”

Further, the project will examine the viability of utilizing smart contracts to automate DvP settlements and report back by this November. The partners plan to use the open source developed solution as a part of phase 2 of Project UBin, a project which began in 2016 with the development of a simple prototype on Ethereum in Phase 1.

The second phase of Ubin (“Re-imagining Interbank Real-Time Gross Settlement System Using Distributed Ledger Technologies) aimed at finding solutions “around the need for transactional privacy and deterministic finality”, and “the ability to perform multilateral netting capabilities in a decentralised manner while preserving transactional privacy.”

MAS Chief FinTech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty commented about the project and how blockchain tech is impacting financial transactions and injecting new energy into business:

“The involvement of three prominent technology partners highlights the commercial interest in making this a reality. We expect to see further growth in this space as FinTechs leverage on the strong pool of talent and expertise in Singapore to develop innovative blockchain applications and benefit from the new opportunities created.”

Ho Kok Yong, Financial Services Industry Leader at Deloitte Southeast Asia shared Mohanty’s optimism regarding the direction of Ubin’s latest phase:

“Using two different open source blockchain technologies to implement and design the Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) prototype, we are able to mitigate counterparty risks in DvP (Delivery versus Payment) and achieve DvP settlement finality with clearing members.”

Magnus Haglind, Senior Vice President and Head of Product Management (Market Technology) at Nasdaq views such eclectic collaborations as the key to the success in embarking on such projects in the future:

“In our experience of developing projects to leverage blockchain to improve market and operational efficiencies, the willingness to collaborate by cross-industry parties was – and is – the most essential component for success.”

Nasdaq, the second-largest stock exchange in the world, has suggested that it could foresee opening its own cryptocurrency exchange in the future and has already developed a distributed ledger blockchain system that optimizes the use of securities as collateral for margin calls.

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