Google, Alibaba Seek Singapore Payments and Crypto Exchange Licences


Google and Alibaba are among 300 companies that have applied for licensing to provide various digital payment services in Singapore according to Sopnendu Mohanty, chief technology officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Speaking to Bloomberg, Mohanty stated that MAS will ensure anyone who gets the license is “credible.” Among the activities for which these companies want to be licensed are digital asset payment and crypto exchange and trading services.

According to the application details, Google’s Singapore arm has notified MAS to provide account issuance services, cross-border money transfer services, merchant services, and e-money services. Alibaba has specified account issuance and merchant acquisition services. Other companies eyeing licensing include PayPal, Binance, Coinbase, Alipay, and Payoneer.  

The companies which have applied for licensing can continue offering those services under the grace period as long as they have notified MAS that they will be offering those services. The grace period as provided by the country’s Payment Services Act effective in January 2020.

Singapore is considering how to speed the licensing process to encourage entrepreneurship but also without leaving regulation issues behind. Asia is a region well-known for crypto activities like mining, exchanges, and ICOs. Singapore is seen to have a favorable financial regulatory framework and taxation system for many companies.

Further, cryptocurrencies are legal in Singapore, although one is required to have a license for ICO and crypto exchange activities.

Mohanty said in the interview that in relation to encouraging cryptocurrency exchanges, the first step would be to institutionalize the exchanges. This would then act as a backbone for mainstreaming crypto transactions in the country.

The country has recorded substantial successes in encouraging crypto services. The Singapore Exchange Ltd is now one of Asia’s main crypto hubs, and DBS Private Bank is now Asia’s first bank offering crypto services. However, the MAS is still cautious of cryptocurrencies and has been telling Singapore citizens to deal cautiously.

“I haven’t touched Bitcoin till now,” Mohanty said in the interview. “It’s a speculative asset. It is common sense that nobody should indulge in assets they don’t understand. It’s so volatile and it’s so complex. MAS is doing a lot of work through parliament speeches and messages to tell people to be careful. And if people still go out and buy such risky assets, it is their choice.”

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