Singapore Says Crypto Ban For Retail ‘Not Likely to Work’

MAS is weighing up new measures to restrict retail trader access to crypto, though it conceded Sunday banning them outright would not work


Monetary Authority of Singapore | Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • A ban on retail trader’s access to crypto can’t overcome citizen’s ability to circumvent it, according to MAS’ head, Ravi Menon
  • The central bank is weighing measures to introduce a customer suitability test to trade digital assets, alongside restrictions on leveraged trading

The head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the body overseeing crypto regulations, has conceded banning retail access to cryptoassets is “not likely to work” given its borderless nature and ability to circumvent restrictions placed upon it.

In an open address on Sunday, MAS’ managing director, Ravi Menon, said Singaporeans can gain access to numerous exchanges globally to trade digital assets, negating proposed restrictions intended to shield them from extreme periods of market volatility.

Those limits, laid out by MAS’ Chair Tharman Shanmugaratnam last month, include introducing customer suitability tests while restricting the use of leverage and credit facilities. MAS has repeatedly toyed with the idea of an outright ban on retail trading as a means to reduce risk, though it is yet to formally introduce those measures.

Leverage has often been blamed for causing the greatest financial harm for those participants who lack an expert understanding of how market mechanism works.

“Adding frictions on retail access to cryptocurrencies is an area we are contemplating,” Menon said in his address.

But a blanket ban on retail access to crypto wouldn’t be a viable strategy, the director added, signaling a need to work with other regulators globally to execute such a policy.

“With just a mobile phone, Singaporeans have access to any number of crypto exchanges in the world and can buy or sell any number of cryptocurrencies,” Menon said.

The director said confusion had arisen over the region’s stance toward the asset class, highlighting how observers both hail it as a region for innovation while also viewing it as prohibitive. 

Singapore crypto regulations — a balancing act

Singapore has continued its steady focus on shoring up its digital asset regulations in recent years, often pointing to consumer protections as its primary reason motivation. 

The region has often been touted as one of the first developed economies to introduce clearer guidelines for digital assets, from as far back as 2016.

While the city-state’s regulations are intended to shield consumers from harm, it is not clear how MAS intends to police retail trader restrictions on those utilizing a VPN, which can make an Internet user in Singapore present to exchanges as coming from another jurisdiction. A spokesperson for MAS did not immediately return a request for comment.

Proposed restrictions on retail traders would add to Singapore’s existing licensing regime for digital asset providers, which intends to monitor and police the way they offer crypto to customers.

Earlier this year, Singapore closed a regulatory loophole that had allowed domestically registered virtual asset service providers to offer their business abroad while evading oversight at home.

The central bank also issued guidance in January prohibiting payment tokens from portraying crypto to the public in a manner that downplays the risks of trading the new asset class.

Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.


Upcoming Events

Hilton Metropole | 225 Edgware Rd, London

Mon - Wed, March 18 - 20, 2024

Crypto’s premier institutional conference returns to London in March 2024. The DAS: London Experience: Attend expert-led panel discussions and fireside chats Hear the latest developments regarding the crypto and digital asset regulatory environment directly from policymakers and experts.


TUES, OCT. 8, 2024

Guided by the expertise of Blockworks Research Analysts team, this one day event will feature senior leaders, entrepreneurs, and developers from across the crypto industry. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in an immersive experience to explore the latest trends, […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research report cover graphics (1).jpg


Wormhole is a suite of open-source, permissionless protocols used to move assets and queries across blockchains.  Despite being a common misconception, Wormhole is not just a token bridge. Nevertheless, protocols can build token bridges on top of Wormhole by leveraging the cross-chain messaging provided.


Ether is a commodity just up until the point it is not, or, ether is not a commodity just up until the point it is — whichever you prefer


The bull-market conference was filled with good feelings but little clarity on where the crypto industry is headed next


The Friday ruling was issued as a default judgment because Sameer Ramani “appears to have fled the country”


Bitcoin’s previous record high against the Euro was set in September 2021


As bitcoin ETFs grow larger and more liquid, due diligence teams at wirehouses and other investment firms are more likely to clear them, Bitwise researcher says



The TRON DAO team attended ETH Denver, one of the leading events in the blockchain space