Ravi Menon: Singapore's Middle Way Regulator

Singapore's central bank head has steered a path between Hong Kong's embrace of crypto and India's stifling of it.

AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2023 at 1:17 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:07 p.m. UTC

The head of Singapore's central bank has been one of the most influential policymakers in Asia, arguably the most vibrant region currently for crypto development. As Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon, 59, has steered the institution toward a middle path between Hong Kong's favorable crypto regulations and the just-ban-crypto policy of India's central bank.

Menon has signaled that well-regulated stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), not crypto, will be part of the financial ecosystem in the future because cryptocurrencies, he says, have failed the test of digital money.

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Still, Singapore continues to see itself as a crypto hub in Asia because, as Menon explained recently, there are ways the technology can be used aside from speculation.

The decisions Menon and his team have taken in 2023 reflect that balancing act.

In a comprehensive proposed regulatory framework for crypto service providers, the MAS ruled to discourage cryptocurrency speculation by retail customers by not offering financing, margin transactions or any incentives to trade.

But at the same time, it has unveiled a framework for regulating stablecoins, started to test tokenization use cases alongside major financial services firms including JPMorgan (JPM), DBS (D05) and BNY Mellon (BK) and announced plans to issue a "live" central bank digital currency (CBDC) for wholesale settlement.

Menon retires from his role on Jan. 1, 2024, as the longest-serving boss of the MAS and will be replaced by Chia Der Jiun, who was previously the Permanent Secretary (Development) of Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM). He leaves big shoes to fill.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.