China and Singapore establish task force for green finance cooperation

China and Singapore have joined forces to establish a task force aimed at deepening bilateral cooperation in green and transition finance. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the collaboration with the People’s Bank of China (PBC) in creating the China-Singapore Green Finance Taskforce (GFTF). The two major Asian economies seek to develop a set of financial standards, products, technologies, and definitions to support a low-carbon future in the region.

The GFTF will facilitate greater public-private sector collaboration and create concrete initiatives to catalyze capital flows to support a credible and inclusive transition to a low carbon future for both countries and the region. Public-private participants from China and Singapore will work together to co-develop the necessary initiatives. According to Gillian Tan, the assistant managing director and chief sustainability officer of MAS, this collaboration is vital in ensuring that both countries’ financial sectors remain sustainable in the long term.

Initially, the GFTF will focus on finding common ground for taxonomies and definitions regarding each other’s existing transition activities. The task force will also strengthen sustainability bond market connectivity, which includes two-way access to green and transition bond products. MAS and PBC will collaborate on this initiative to ensure that sustainable finance adoption is more widely accepted and accessible to all stakeholders in the region.

The GFTF’s technology initiative will involve MetaVerse Green Exchange, a licensed crypto exchange from Singapore, and Beijing Green Exchange, a Beijing municipal government-approved company. The two companies will help facilitate sustainable finance adoption and pilot digital green bonds with carbon credits. This initiative aims to promote sustainable finance adoption by providing more accessible and user-friendly digital platforms for investors and other stakeholders.

Chinese banks are reportedly opening bank accounts for regulated crypto companies, with several acting as a payment layer for the crypto platforms. The state-owned Bank of Communications is in talks to open accounts for regulated companies. Additionally, Hong Kong’s largest virtual bank, ZA Bank, will act as the settlement bank for crypto companies, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. This initiative aims to provide more opportunities for crypto companies to access the necessary funding for their operations while ensuring that the financial system remains safe and stable.

In conclusion, the China-Singapore Green Finance Taskforce (GFTF) is a significant step towards greater collaboration in green and transition finance initiatives in the region. The task force’s focus on developing financial standards, products, technologies, and definitions will enable the region to make significant strides towards a low-carbon future. The involvement of public and private participants from China and Singapore is vital in ensuring that the region’s financial sector remains sustainable in the long term. Additionally, the GFTF’s technology initiative involving MetaVerse Green Exchange and Beijing Green Exchange aims to promote sustainable finance adoption by providing more accessible and user-friendly digital platforms for investors and other stakeholders.


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Zipmex Requests Moratorium Extension in Singapore

Cryptocurrency exchange Zipmex has requested another extension to its moratorium on debt payments in Singapore due to liquidity issues. The firm has filed a request in Singapore’s courts to extend its existing moratorium period by two months. Zipmex plans to use the extra time to plan and reopen Z Wallet withdrawals.

Zipmex initially filed for a moratorium in July, which allowed the company to postpone payments due to its exposure to Celsius, a cryptocurrency lending platform. The exchange suspended withdrawals earlier that month, while CEO Marcus Lim did not deny reports that the firm was facing insolvency. Singapore’s courts granted Zipmex’s moratorium request, giving the company until December 2022 to come up with a restructuring plan.

However, the platform has continued to request extensions on the moratorium, with the most recent one likely pushing its deadlines to June. In an announcement on April 18, Zipmex said it was in negotiations with investors to “maximize returns for customers” following a delay in payments.

It’s unclear which investor Zipmex was referring to in its latest announcement. In March, venture capital firm V Ventures reportedly did not provide a payment of more than $1 million necessary for Zipmex to avoid liquidating certain operations and stop distributing payroll to employees.

Zipmex’s latest request for an extension highlights the challenges faced by cryptocurrency exchanges in a volatile market. The crypto industry has seen significant fluctuations in value over the past year, with Bitcoin alone experiencing a dramatic rise and fall in value. This has led to liquidity issues for some exchanges, as investors are unable to withdraw funds and pay debts.

The company’s struggles also reflect the broader regulatory challenges facing cryptocurrency exchanges. Many countries are grappling with how to regulate the industry, with some governments taking a more restrictive approach. In Singapore, authorities have implemented strict rules for cryptocurrency exchanges, including requiring them to obtain a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Despite these challenges, the cryptocurrency industry continues to attract investors and users around the world. While some exchanges may struggle, others are thriving, and the industry as a whole shows no signs of slowing down. However, as the Zipmex case demonstrates, investors and exchanges must navigate a complex landscape filled with uncertainty and risk.


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Singapore authorities investigate Terraform Labs

Since Do Kwon and Terraform Labs were accused of engaging in fraudulent activity by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a month ago, the authorities in Singapore have begun an investigation into the firm that Kwon helped build, Terraform Labs. According to the allegations made in the action brought by the SEC, Kwon stole about 10,000 bitcoin from the Terra platform and the Luna Foundation Guard, which he then turned into fiat currency. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asserts that Kwon has cleaned more than one hundred million dollars’ worth of bitcoins since the original collapse of the site.

An email issued by the Singaporean police on March 6 said that “investigations have began in respect to Terraform Laboratories,” as stated in a report by Bloomberg. In addition, the email said that the investigations are “ongoing,” and that Kwon is not in the city-state at the present time.

Several participants in the cryptocurrency industry have voiced their disapproval of the case on the grounds that it might pave the way for the SEC to target stablecoins in future litigation. The comparisons of assets made by the SEC have even been described as “wild” by lawyers working in the business.

The beginning of this whole affair can be traced back to May 2022, when the stablecoin known as Terra USD (UST) was unpegged from the US dollar. The following demise of the Terra ecosystem was responsible for a huge implosion in the market for digital assets, which resulted in losses of approximately $40 billion.

Authorities in South Korea have also conducted an investigation into Terraform Laboratories, and a warrant has been issued for Kwon’s arrest in that country. In an attempt to identify Kwon, South Korean law enforcement officers headed to Serbia. On February 15, South Korean prosecutors filed a warrant to arrest a local e-commerce executive who they accused of taking Terra (LUNA) in exchange for promoting Terra Labs. The executive was suspected of receiving the payment for marketing Terra Labs.

As at the time this article was written, Kwon has not made any comments. During the whole of the incident, the co-founder of Terraform Labs has been quite active on social media. On the other hand, it is the beginning of February and he has not tweeted since then.


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DBS Bank to Expand Crypto Services to Hong Kong

As Hong Kong strives to become a center for digital assets, the Singaporean megabank DBS Group, which is wholly controlled by the Singaporean government, is making plans to extend its cryptocurrency services to the Chinese territory.

According to a report from Bloomberg dated February 13, DBS Bank intends to submit an application for a license that would enable it to provide cryptocurrency trading services to clients in Hong Kong.

Sebastian Paredes, the CEO of DBS Bank Hong Kong, said that the company intends to submit an application for a license in Hong Kong so that the bank will be able to offer digital assets to clients located in Hong Kong.

According to Paredes, DBS is “extremely sensitive” to the dangers that are involved with digital assets, but the company is excited about the newly proposed crypto-related rules in Hong Kong. Once the legislation have been clarified in their entirety and DBS “understands properly the framework,” the bank is ready to become one of the first lenders in Hong Kong to provide cryptocurrency services, as he said.

A few years ago, DBS Bank took a significant leap into the cryptocurrency business by announcing plans to create an institutional cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore around the end of the year 2020. Additionally, the business has been aiming to broaden the accessibility of its cryptocurrency platform to retail investors and has been using decentralized financial technology to collaborative initiatives with the central bank of Singapore.

The announcement comes shortly after DBS revealed that its annual net profit had increased by 20%, reaching a record 8.19 billion Singaporean dollars (SGD), which is equivalent to $6.7 billion in the United States.

The total revenue rose by 16% to 16.5 billion Singapore dollars, which is equivalent to $12.4 billion, surpassing 16 billion Singapore dollars for the first time in history.

In the midst of China’s special administrative region continuing to reiterate its pro-crypto position, DBS Bank has announced ambitions to extend its operations to Hong Kong. Paul Chan, the finance secretary of Hong Kong, made the announcement in January that the Hong Kong government is open to working with crypto and fintech businesses in 2023. The official also said that a large number of companies in the sector have indicated their intentions to either extend their operations in Hong Kong or to go public on the local markets.

According to earlier reports, the legislature of Hong Kong has enacted legislation that would result in the establishment of a licensing system for virtual asset service providers in the month of December 2022. The new regulatory framework is being developed with the intention of giving cryptocurrency exchanges the same level of market recognition that conventional financial institutions are now afforded by the existing regulatory system.

Singapore has adopted a more rigorous approach to the cryptocurrency business in the wake of big industry failures in 2022. This comes at a time when Hong Kong authorities have been gradually relaxing their stance on cryptocurrencies in recent months. Following the failure of the Singaporean cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital in September, the Monetary Authority of Singapore introduced legislation in October to prohibit all types of bitcoin loans.


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Singapore police allegedly investigate Hodlnaut

It has been claimed that the authorities in Singapore are looking into allegations of cheating and fraud involving the cryptocurrency lender Hodlnaut.

There were multiple complaints lodged against the platform between the months of August and November 2022, according to reports that were published in the local media. As a result of these complaints, the commercial affairs department of the police department has opened an investigation into the founders of the exchange.

The bulk of complaints, according to the Singapore authorities, focus on deceptive claims and misinformation about the company’s exposure to a particular digital token.

Investors who were adversely affected by the Hodlnaut problem were also instructed by the police to register a complaint online and present verified evidence of their transaction histories on the site.

The cryptocurrency lending platform showed the first symptoms of difficulty on August 8, when it temporarily halted withdrawals on the site, claiming a liquidity shortage as the reason.

At the time, the platform said that they had no exposure to the algorithmic Terra stablecoin, which has since been discontinued and is now known as TerraUSD Classic (USTC).

On-chain data, however, contradicted the assertions made by crypto lenders and revealed that they possessed at least $150 million dollars worth of USTC.

In October, a court report provided more evidence that the data stored on the chain were accurate.

According to the article, the cryptocurrency lender suffered a loss of around $190 million as a result of Terra’s collapse. Subsequently, in order to conceal their level of risk, they destroyed thousands of papers linked to their investments.

After the collapse of the Terra ecosystem, Hodlnaut was able to keep its exposure to USTC a secret for almost three months. However, it eventually fell victim to the liquidity crunch, which forced the company to seek judicial management, during which a court appointed a new interim CEO for the company.

After a delay of three months, the directors of the company are now the subject of an investigation by the police for failing to keep the users informed.

In August, the cryptocurrency lender said that it was working on a strategy to restructure in the hopes that it would soon be able to resume operations.


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Singapore police warn of FTX phishing scams

Investors have been reminded by the Singapore Police Force to be wary of websites that falsely claim they can assist them in recovering assets from the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which has now gone out of business.

Local news source Channel News Asia stated that on November 19, the police issued a warning about a website that claimed to be operated by the United States Department of Justice and that prompted FTX users to check in using their account credentials.

Customers of the website, which has not been named, are led to believe that they “would be able to withdraw their assets after paying legal expenses.” The website is directed at local investors who have been adversely impacted by the collapse of FTX.

The authorities said that the website was a phishing scam that was meant to trick people who were naive to the scheme into divulging their personal information.

Fake online articles that offer cryptocurrency auto trading schemes in the nation seem to have flourished lately; therefore, local authorities have issued a warning to citizens to be wary of such content while browsing the internet.

These articles often include famous politicians from Singapore, such as Tan Chuan-jin, who is the speaker of the Singaporean parliament.

Even while this is not the first time that Singapore’s police have issued public warnings against crypto frauds, new advances in the market have left investors more susceptible to assaults than they were before.

It is predicted that one million creditors and investors have been negatively impacted as a result of FTX’s bankruptcy.

They might potentially lose billions of dollars as a group.

The city-state has issued several warnings to investors that digital assets are very volatile, and it has even prohibited the promotion of cryptocurrencies on social media platforms.


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Coinbase CEO Criticizes Singapore’s Aim to Become a Web3 Hub at Expense of Crypto Trading

While speaking at the Singapore FinTech Festival 2022 on November 3, the CEO of U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, raised concerns that Singapore wants to become a forward-looking regulator, but is not welcoming cryptocurrency trading.

Armstrong stated: “Singapore wants to be a Web3 hub, and then simultaneously say: ’Oh, we’re not really going to allow retail trading or self-hosted wallets to be available.” He then said: “Those two things are incompatible in my mind.”

Armstrong further said: “Crypto should not be treated at a disadvantage; they should be treated equally with other financial service regulations.”

Comments by Armstrong came after Coinbase obtained in-principle approval from Singapore Central Bank to offer digital payment token services in the city-state last month.

Meanwhile, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and Ravi Menon, the Central Bank’s Managing Director who were present at the event responded to Armstrong’s concerns.

Mohanty stated that retail investors today are “exposed to risks they do not understand they are taking.” He said the Singapore central bank believes that Web 3.0 is the future, but wants to ensure that money trading within the ecosystem is a safe currency. Mohanty explained that while the regulator doesn’t worry about internet protocols, it cares about consumers and wants to ensure they are protected.

On the other hand, Mr. Menon responded that MAS “wants to develop the city-state into a ‘crypto hub’ fueled by instant settlements, tokenized assets, and programmable money, not ‘speculating in cryptocurrencies’.”

Menon said Singapore wants to be a crypto asset hub but does not want to be a hub where trading and speculating in cryptocurrencies take place.

Menon further explained that “real value in the crypto industry comes from tokenizing assets and placing them on a distributed ledger for use cases that increase economic efficiency.”

Menon’s comments at the conference came after officials in Hong Kong announced at their own annual gathering, the Hong Kong FinTech Week, a series of policies to re-attract digital asset investment.

The announcement signaled that Hong Kong has joined the race to become Asia’s main financial hub.

On Monday this week, Hong Kong launched an overhaul of crypto regulations that puts it on course to legalize retail trading. The policy even gave firms the chance to start futures-based crypto exchange-traded funds. Officials are also willing to review property rights for tokenized assets and the legality of smart contracts.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Hong Kong, Singapore Sees Diverging Approaches to Retail Crypto Trading

Hong Kong is planning to shift to a friendlier approach towards cryptocurrencies starting next year, according to a Bloomberg report, while neighbouring Singapore is planning to impose fresh restrictions on consumers.


People familiar with the matter, who asked to remain anonymous, told Bloomberg that the information is not public yet. Still, Hong Kong has a planned mandatory licensing program for crypto platforms that are set to be enforced in March next year, which will allow retail trading.

They added that further details and program timetable are yet to be decided as public consultation must be done first.

Hong Kong is not planning to endorse specific coins such as Bitcoin or Ether. However, regulators are planning to allow listings of bigger tokens and even legalize crypto trading for retail customers, according to Bloomberg.

This move indicates a positive regulatory measure for cryptocurrencies, which contrasts with the city’s sceptical stance in recent years.

The city plans to reveal more about the details of the recently stated goal of creating a top crypto hub next week during the annual Fintech Week conference, which starts on Monday.

Hong Kong is shifting to a friendlier approach towards crypto as the city aims to regain its credentials as one of the top financial centres after a recent year of political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic led to the outward migration of talent.

The people familiar with the matter added that crypto regulators would likely demand criteria for listing tokens on retail exchanges, such as a company’s market value, liquidity and membership in third-party crypto indexes.

While other economies are starting to open up to cryptocurrencies, Singapore has said it is unwilling to change its regulations. Instead, it is strengthening restrictions on retail crypto trade.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to restrict retail participation in digital assets. Following this, small investors will be banned from funding coin purchases through borrowing.

Singapore’s central bank chief Ravi Menon told Bloomberg that the city-state would not stand in the way of other financial centres looking to draw retail crypto trading away with more relaxed rules.

“We don’t set ourselves out to compete with other jurisdictions, especially on regulation,” said Menon, the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. “We have to do what is right for us, what is necessary to contain the risks. And the risks primarily harm retail investors.”

Singapore’s central bank echoed sentiments similar to that of the MAS by asking companies to stop using tokens deposited by retail investors for lending or staking to generate yield. However, the restrictions proposed by the two regulatory bodies will not be applicable to high-net-worth investors.

These moves are being taken in Singapore to ensure positive growth of the crypto industry with security measures that will provide safety to investors.

According to the Bloomberg report, Menon said Singapore still wants to be a crypto hub, but one that promotes areas of digital assets with “use cases” and tokenization – the process of using blockchain technology to securitize various assets.

“We accept that cryptocurrencies have a place in the larger digital ecosystem because they are the tokens native to the blockchain that powers much of this activity,” he said. “They need to have an expression in the formal financial sector.”

Meanwhile, other economies in Asia, such as neighbouring Japan, have already begun to take a positive stand toward crypto. Japan has already started to open its economy to crypto by making it easier for companies to list tokens, which is in contrast to its previous conservative stance that was partially to blame for driving away crypto start-ups.

In early October, Japanese Prime Miniter Fumio Kishida announced that the government will take an active role in promoting Web3 services.

Kishida said Web3-related growth – including metaverse and NFT-related developments – is now part of the country’s growth strategy. He added that the government is keen on creating a society where new services can easily be created.

On October 3, the Prime Minister delivered a speech before Japan’s National Diet (Japan’s bicameral parliament) where he said the government’s investment in the country’s digital transformation already embraces the issuance of NFTs to local authorities using digital technology to solve challenges in their respective jurisdictions.

While in August, the Japanese government proposed a corporate-friendly crypto tax that would take effect in 2023. The prime minister’s plan of revamping the economy relies on spurring growth in Web3 firms as a key agenda.

Image source: Shutterstock


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92% High-Net-Worth Individuals in SG & HK Are Interested in Digital Assets: KPMG

To learn crypto perspectives from family offices (FOs) and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in Singapore and Hong Kong, KPMG China and Aspen Digital conducted a study dubbed “Investing in Digital Assets” and discovered that growing interest among this group.

Per the report:

“Despite the volatility in the digital asset market in the past two years, FOs and HNWIs are keen to invest in the sector. The survey found that 92 percent of respondents were interested in digital assets, with 58 percent of FOs and HNWIs already investing and 34 percent planning to do so.”

The growing crypto interest among FOs and HNWIs in Singapore and Hong Kong was being driven by portfolio diversification and high return prospects. 

Confidence in digital assets was also being spurred by heightened participation by mainstream institutional investors. 

“Family offices and high-net-worth individuals in Hong Kong and Singapore have embraced this new asset class, with more than 90 percent of our survey respondents already investing in the space or planning to do so,” according to the study.

Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) dominated the group’s investment portfolio. Furthermore, growing interest in decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) was also noted. 

Direct equity investment emerged as the primary source of funding for crypto service providers. Matthew Lam, Aspen Digital’s head of research, pointed out:

“We have observed that family offices/HNWIs prefer direct equity investments, while crypto-focused venture capital firms favour equity plus token warrant approach to invest in digital asset service providers.”

Nevertheless, respondents cited inaccurate valuation and the changing global regulatory environment as the biggest hurdles to crypto investment. 

For instance, all virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in Hong Kong will be required to apply for an operational license by March 2024. Moreover, Singapore is also eyeing to broaden its crypto regulation scope. 

Meanwhile, Hong Kong recently showed its intention to legalize crypto trading after launching several legal initiatives related to emerging technologies in the cryptocurrency industry, Blockchain.News reported. 

Image source: Shutterstock


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Coinbase Enters Singapore after Gaining Licence

Coinbase has entered the Singaporean market as it has gained approval from the central bank to offer its crypto services in the city-state.

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The largest crypto exchange in the United States has gained a so-called in-principle approval, which the central bank rolled out last year for crypto firms.

The approval will allow crypto exchanges such as Coinbase to offer services that individuals and institutions can use. Still, the central bank will regulate them under its Payment Services Act.

Coinbase has said that this has been a “significant milestone”. It further added that the company currently has nearly 100 employees and has been building a robust presence in the Southeast Asian state. The largest volume of hires from Singapore is product engineers, according to Coinbase.

“We see Singapore as a strategic market and a global hub for Web3 innovation,” said Hassan Ahmed, Coinbase’s regional director for Southeast Asia.

Coinbase is among the only 17 crypto firms to receive in-principle approvals and licences from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) after an elaborate due diligence process that is still ongoing. There were about 180 crypto companies that applied for a crypto payments licence to the MAS in 2020 under a new regime.

Competitors and DBS Vickers – the brokerage run by Singapore’s largest bank, DBS – have also established their business in Singapore besides Coinbase.

Although Singapore has become welcoming to outside digital asset services-related firms, its local crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC), began liquidation in June after it was unable to meet hundreds of millions of dollars in obligations.

Nevertheless, Singapore’s positive step towards opening up to crypto firms has been attracting firms from China, India and elsewhere in the last few years, making it a major centre in Asia.

In its recent developments, Coinbase announced expanding its services in Australia to make accessing the crypto economy easier and safer, introducing three services to their Aussie clients, Blockchain.News reported.

The digital currency exchange, which first entered the Australian market in 2016, said it would be introducing a PayID feature to its Australian users. 

The announcement was disclosed in a published blog post, “First, we are introducing PayID as a way for Australians to top up their Coinbase accounts using direct Australian Dollar transfers.” Said Coinbase in the announcement.”

The crypto exchange’s cloud protocol has also partnered with decentralized oracle network Chainlink Labs to launch an NFT floor price feed service.

The partnership will introduce the NFT lowest pricing source in the Coinbase cloud service, allowing developers to access real-time NFT prices to build applications such as NFT lending marketplaces, such as NFT indices.

Image source: Shutterstock


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