Buyers Beware: Singapore Central Bank Issues ICO Warning

Singapore’s central bank has issued a new warning to investors on the risks of initial coin offerings, or token sales.

AccessTimeIconAug 10, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:49 a.m. UTC

Singapore's central bank has issued an investor warning about the risks of initial coin offerings (ICOs).

A new notice from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) – published in tandem with the Commercial Affairs Department (the administration layer for the city-state's police force) – advises prospective investors to investigate and understand the risks associated with buying into token sales.

Among the suggestions offered for investors is that they should deal only with firms licensed by the MAS itself.

The notice states:

"The laws administered by MAS require disclosure of information on investment products being offered to consumers. MAS-regulated entities are also subject to conduct rules, which aim to ensure that they deal fairly with consumers. If consumers deal with entities that are not regulated by MAS, they forgo the protection afforded under laws administered by MAS."

The statement highlights other risks, including the potential for a lack of market liquidity, the high rate at which startups fail and the potential for fraud.

The MAS said that consumers who suspect that a token-based investment scheme may be fraudulent, "should report such cases to the police."

The warning comes just over a week after the MAS issued a statement detailing that, under its rules, some token sales may qualify as securities offerings. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released a similar advisory late last month.

ICOs have steadily gained traction in recent months, according to CoinDesk's ICO Tracker. To date, nearly $1.7 billion has been raised through the funding model, with more than $500 million in the last month alone.

Singapore image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.