The Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon, has commented on bitcoin and digital currencies in an interview, saying they "have a role to play" in the future.
Speaking to industry publication CentralBanking.com, Menon answered questions about whether money should remain under the control of central banks, and why the MAS had decided to regulate "virtual currency intermediaries".
Digital currencies' biggest advantages were cost-efficient and fast transfers, he said, but they lacked any central bank backing.
Wildly fluctuating prices also meant digital currencies did not meet the basic requirement of money as a store of value, he added.
Repeating the oft-heard statements from central banks and financial professionals about bitcoin's supposed role in money laundering and financing of terrorist activities, Menon said the anonymity of virtual currencies was a danger.
All intermediaries would have to follow know-your-customer (KYC) and associated regulations, he continued, saying digital currency companies would welcome this news as it would "weed out intermediaries that use virtual currencies for illicit purposes".
The risks would be addressed "in a targeted way" to allow innovation to still take place.
Singapore's fintech pedigree helps bitcoin
David Moskowitz, founder of Singapore-based bitcoin trading platform Coin Republic, told CoinDesk Singapore's status as a world financial hub meant it couldn't afford to ignore bitcoin and other financial technology innovation.
"MAS clearly sees the potential that cryptocurrencies hold for local economic growth. As the nature of finance changes with technological advances, the old models will become obsolete. As they did with the hedge fund, banking, and insurance markets, the government of Singapore has an excellent track record of foreseeing the next wave of opportunity for economic growth of her economy."
"I don't think they will sit idle while London, or Isle of Man, attempt to take leadership in the digital currency space. The public statement by MAS director Ravi Menon, and recent 'bitcoin experiment' by their sovereign wealth fund reaffirms this."
A variety of bitcoin startups
Singapore was marked early on as a potential haven for bitcoin and digital currency development. As a business and financial-services-oriented city-state, it currently has S$1.82tn ($1.45tn) of assets under management and is also a regional hub for IT startups.
It has more than eight bitcoin ATMs installed from four different manufacturers, including the native-grown Tembusu. In May, representatives from a number of digital currency companies launched the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups (ACCESS) to represent the industry in discussions with other businesses and policy-makers.
Image via MAS
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