MAS Bans Crypto Advertising in Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today took steps to effectively ban the advertising of cryptocurrencies to the general public.

The guidelines cover payment institutions, banks and other financial institutions, as well as applicants under Singapore’s Payment Services Act. Services included in the directives are the buying or selling of cryptocurrencies and facilitating their exchange. The definition of services will be expanded to include the transfer of cryptocurrencies, provision of custodian wallet services for them, and facilitating their exchange without possession of money or crypto by the service provider. Those additional steps will become official when the amendments to the Payment Services Act take effect.

In a statement, the MAS said it has consistently warned cryptocurrency trading is “highly risky and not suitable for the general public”, as their prices are subject to sharp speculative swings. The agency noted some service providers have been actively promoting their services through online and physical advertisements or through the provision ATMs.

“This could encourage consumers to trade (cryptocurrencies) on impulse, without fully understanding the attendant risks,” the MAS said.

The new guidelines prohibit service providers from marketing or advertising in public areas in such as public transport, public transport venues, public websites, social media platforms, broadcast and print media, or provision of physical ATMs; or through the engagement of third parties, such as social media influencers. They are limited to their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.

“MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases,” MAS assistant managing director (Policy, Payments and Financial Crime) Loo Siew Yee said. “But the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public. (Cryptocurrency) service providers should therefore not portray the trading of (cryptocurrencies) in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading in (cryptocurrencies), nor engage in marketing activities that target the general public.”

Under the Payment Services Act, entities that provide services relating to cryptocurrencies are regulated primarily for money laundering and terrorism financing risks, as well as technology risk, the MAS said. Customers of regulated entities must be informed of the risks of trading in crypto under the PSN08 Notice on Disclosures and Communications but are otherwise not subject to any statutory protection for their trading of cryptocurrencies.

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