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Singapore’s new president, a former central bank chairman, has called crypto “a bit crazy.”

  • Singapore’s new president is Tharman Shanmugaratnam, formerly the country’s finance minister and chairman of the central bank.

  • While the role is largely ceremonial, Shanmugaratnam’s financial experience may give him some influence over relevant policies.

  • The 66-year-old calls crypto “purely speculative” and “somewhat crazy.”

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the former finance minister and chairman of Singapore’s central bank, who has called crypto “purely speculative” and “slightly crazy”, was elected president of the country on Saturday with 70.4% of the vote, replacing of Halimah Yacob, the first female head of state.

While the role is largely ceremonial, the 66-year-old’s experience could mean he has some influence in shaping policies related to the future of finance, including cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and more .

Singapore has gone from being an early adopter of crypto to a jurisdiction trying to strike the right regulatory balance following the collapse of its own crypto darlings Terraform Labs and Three Arrows Capital, while Shanmugaratnam chaired Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). .

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That was a role he held between 2011 and 2023, overlapping his time as finance minister between 2007 and 2015. He began his career as an economist at MAS in 1982 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics. a Master of Philosophy in Economics from Cambridge University and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He was also shortlisted for the top position at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Shanmugaratnam was a Member of Parliament for 22 years and held various government positions, including Deputy Prime Minister,

Shanmugaratnam’s early stance on cryptocurrencies was laissez faire.

In 2018, as he wrote, cryptocurrency and related trading activities did not pose any threat to Singapore’s financial system, nor did it need to be banned.

He reiterated that stance in 2023, saying at the World Economic Forum that crypto is “inherently purely speculative and, in fact, a bit crazy.” While it should remain an unregulated market, he suggested that authorities should provide “ultra clarity” on the risks associated with crypto, as “getting into a game of regulating products, ostrich eggs or crypto or anything else” would be a ‘never-ending process’. game.”

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Still, the situation for banks and stablecoins is somewhat different.

In November 2022, Shanmugaratnam wrote an answer to a question in parliament saying that Singapore’s banks should hold $125 in capital against a $100 exposure to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH). “While the jurisdiction’s banks have an ‘insignificant’ level of cryptocurrency exposure – less than 0.05% of total risk-weighted assets – these types of crypto-assets are subject to the most stringent risk management requirements set by international standard setters,” wrote he.

He added that the prudential treatment for less risky crypto assets, such as tokenized corporate bonds, is similar to traditional non-tokenized assets.

In 2021, Shanmugaratnam said “there may be a role for crypto in future financing beyond pure speculation and illicit financing” and that he envisioned a future where “regulated stablecoins will play a useful role in a traditional payment system.”

In August 2022, Shanmugaratnam said the MAS was “actively reviewing” its approach to regulating stablecoins and could potentially impose reserve requirements on stablecoin issuers, citing the collapse of terraUSD (UST), a stablecoin that was launched in May last year. lost its peg to the US dollar. Last month, the MAS released a regulatory framework for stablecoins.

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Read more: Singapore: The Center of Asian Crypto Wealth Is Poised for a Reset

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