At a time when many central banks and regulators are issuing bitcoin warnings and taking steps to limit bitcoin-related trades, Singapore's central bank has decided to steer clear of bitcoin, for now at least.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) told Singapore-based trading platform Coin Republic that it will not interfere with bitcoin adoption. The authority said: "Whether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene."
According to TechInAsia, the statement isn't surprising, as the government has already made it clear that MAS should not regulate virtual currencies like bitcoin. However, the Authority has issued statements on the currency in the past, warning speculators that trading bitcoin was risky back in September.
The latest announcement is in no way an endorsement of bitcoin, but it will go a long way to reassure investors who use Singapore-based bitcoin services like Coin Republic.
Coin Republic was founded by David Moskowitz, a zealous advocate of bitcoin who believes the Bitcoin protocol could be employed to make remittances cheaper and to cut costs in various industries.
Moskowitz likes to point out that a number of countries prefer to keep bitcoin open and unregulated, namely Japan and Germany. Singapore appears to be just as open when it comes to bitcoin.
Singapore is a major regional financial services hub and its relaxed attitude towards bitcoin has attracted several bitcoin entrepreneurs and investors. These include GoCoin's Steve Beauregard, who decided to set up shop in Singapore in April 2013.
Attractions of Singapore
There are a few other factors that make Singapore an attractive location for bitcoin companies. In addition to its burgeoning financial sector, Singapore also has a thriving tech industry, so there is no shortage of skilled IT professionals.
Lastly, the city state has plenty of wealthy expats, along with thousands of migrant workers from neighbouring countries. Moskowitz hopes at least some of them will embrace bitcoin as an alternative to traditional wire transfers for remittances, saving a sizeable amount of money in the process.
Singapore has a reputation for being business-friendly and it simply wants to keep it that way.