Singapore illegal crypto transactions draw ire of financial regulator

The financial regulator of Singapore has announced a series of new measures designed to give the authorities greater enforcement powers in tackling illegal crypto transactions.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is preparing to implement new powers created under the Payment Services Act, a bill passed by lawmakers in September.

The Act, set to become law in 2020, will give the Monetary Authority of Singapore a range of new tools to combat illegal transactions, which the regulator says will strengthen its hand in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.

At a presentation at the International Compliance Association Conference last week, Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director (policy, payments & financial crime) at the MAS, said the regulator was experimenting with a range of technological solutions to identity and deal with suspicious transactions.

MAS is experimenting with both in-house and external technologies to draw insights from new data points, such as transactional information on public blockchains and other sources. Such data will provide useful early warning indicators, alongside traditional sources of information such as statutory returns and suspicious transaction reports.

She suggested that emerging technologies like crypto were presenting both new opportunities and risks for regulators to deal contend with, welcoming measures like the Payment Services Act as an essential tool in upholding the law with crypto payments.

“Emerging financial technologies present both new opportunities as well as new risks. Whether as supervisors or industry professionals, we should seek to understand and harness their potential, while mitigating their dangers,” she noted.

The measures come at a time of increasing international surveillance of crypto transactions, following warnings to regulators and central banks from the Financial Action Task Force.

Citing growing risks to the financial system from illegal crypto transactions, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said authorities worldwide must do more to oversee transactions conducted on the blockchain.

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