The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, has decided not to intervene on whether businesses can accept Bitcoin as a means of transacting goods and services.
“Whether or not businesses accept Bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene,” it told Singapore-based Bitcoin trading platform Coin Republic in an email. Singapore is one of the world’s top finanacial hubs that is increasingly seen as a challenger to Switzerland’s private banking dominance.
The Singapore government has long maintained that the MAS does not regulate virtual currencies, so this latest statement is consistent with its stand. Depending on who you ask, this could be good or bad, since some Bitcoin proponents argue that the right regulations could give the currency legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
The last time MAS issued a statement on Bitcoin was in September, when it warned speculators about the risks of trading the cryptocurrency.
“If bitcoin ceases to operate, there may not be an identifiable party responsible for refunding their monies or for them to seek recourse,” said a spokesperson.
MAS’ announcement follows China’s recent crackdown on Bitcoin and revelations that BTC China, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange by transaction volume, has ceased trading in RMB. These developments have sent prices tumbling down to below $500 before recovering to above $600. However, some observers believe that the resilience is an indication that Bitcoin is no flash in the pan.
Countries around the world have reacted to Bitcoin in a variety of ways. According to David Moskowitz, founder of Coin Republic, Germany is very open to Bitcoin and has ruled that the currency is private money, Norway has deemed it not a currency but taxable, while the United Kingdom has chosen not to regulate it although tax rules apply (that policy might be reversed however).
Meanwhile, Japan is also leaving it unregulated, Canada maintains a low regulatory environment and open posture, and the United States is open to the currency but has issued exchange and tax guidance and wants strict regulations in place.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz, image credit: Antana)