The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has suspended Singapore-based digital currency exchange Bitget. According to The Financial Times (FT), this comes following a dispute between Bitget and South Korean boy band BTS’ agency Hybe over a “crypto pension scheme”.
Bitget had promoted the crypto currency Army Coin – named after BTS’ followers who refer to themselves as “BTS ARMY” – as a way to provide lifetime financial support to BTS members, “so that they may focus on what they desire to do” said the FT report. When Army Coin was first listed on 27 October 2021, and the price had surged by over 5,000% at one point, according to The Straits Times (ST).
Hybe had since denied Bitget’s claims and added that the Army Coin had no connections with BTS.
Hybe also warned Bitget that it would take legal action if Bitget did not correct its claims, ST reported. The creator of Army Coin is still unknown.
According to ST, Bitget later said on 29 October, in response to Hybe’s warning, that it will not take any responsibility for the listed Army Coin as it is a trading platform and not the creator of the coin itself.
Bitget had received an exemption by MAS to serve retail and institutional clients, but this was removed in July. However, Bitget’s services were still available in Singapore until late November, all the while claiming that it had MAS’ approval on its website. Bitget has since removed MAS’ logo from its website and blocked Singapore users from accessing its app and website, but claims that it still has licences in Australia, Canada and the US, FT reported.
However, the Army Coin is also listed on CoinTiger, another Singapore-based digital currency exchange. According to FT, it is being promoted similar to when it was listed on Bitget, saying that the coin exists for the good of the band and will provide them with financial support.
Separately, Binance removed its app from Singapore iOS and Google Play stores in September this year. This came after MAS placed Binance on its Investor Alert List to warn consumers that the company is not licenced or regulated by MAS to provide payment services in Singapore. The alert list, which currently has 699 companies listed, shows firms that are not licenced by MAS but might have given investors the impression that they were regulated by the MAS. According to multiple media reports, MAS found that Binance might be “in breach of the Payment Services Act” for continuing to offer payment services to, and “soliciting such business from Singaporean residents without an appropriate licence”. Binance was later ordered by MAS to stop providing payment services in Singapore.
In January last year, MAS confirmed that it had received a total of 21 applications for digital bank licences. The government body first announced in June 2019 that it will issue up to two digital full bank (DFB) licences and three digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences. According to MAS, the digital bank licences will allow entities, including non-bank players, to conduct digital banking businesses in Singapore. Bidders included Jack Ma’s online financial platform Ant Financial, as well as consortiums such as Beyond, which includes lifestyle fintech company V3 Group and EZ-Link, and a consortium by Grab and Singtel.
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