Singapore financial regulator to help companies secure banking services

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, which is the country’s central bank and financial regulator, says it is willing to help banks to secure banking services in the country including setting up bank accounts in the country.

The authority said through its managing director Ravi Menon that they are trying to bring startups in cryptocurrency fintech and banks together "to see if there is some understanding they can reach." Banks in the country have been hesitant to work with cryptocurrency firms and startups to the point of refusing to open bank accounts for these startups. This problem has also been witnessed in other countries including Switzerland.

This has caused some cryptocurrency companies to complain that regulation is barring their operations. And speaking to Bloomberg, Menon said he understands the reasons they were being hesitant. He said some of the cryptocurrency activities are quite opaque and he would not blame the banks for not opening the accounts.

The country has been remaking its laws to attract investments and it is currently a popular destination for many cryptocurrency markets with some of the cryptocurrency firms operating in the country including BitBox and Japanese's biggest messaging app Line and Dunamu which runs cryptocurrency exchange Upbit. 

Menon said some of the cryptocurrency operations are currently dangerous for firms and said it was necessary for local financial firms to exercise caution. He alluded to the need of the regulator to adopt a cautious approach in regulating the industry without stifling innovation. However, the country is not planning to introduce a licensing system for crypto exchanges like is the case with Japan.

Still, the authority recognizes the three groups of cryptocurrency -- utility tokens, security tokens and  payment tokens such as Bitcoins. He said they have no problem with tokens or cryptocurrencies that are not security and would give priority to customer protection and preventing of money laundering when regulating the industry.