South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit’s Singaporean entity has made significant progress in its bid to expand its operations in Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has given an in-principle nod to Upbit Singapore for a Major Payment Institution (MPI) license. The approval, while provisional, opens up several avenues for the crypto exchange, allowing it to provide digital payment token services, particularly to institutional investors, even as it awaits full licensing.
The significance of the initial approval
For Upbit Singapore, the in-principle approval isn’t just a step towards a full license but is emblematic of its consistent efforts to cement its position in the Singaporean market. According to Raks Sondhi, the COO of Upbit Singapore, the exchange has been operational in Singapore since 2018, stealthily setting up its groundwork. “We have been here and operating in Singapore since 2018. We have been building out the team,” said Sondhi.
This move is in line with a broader trend seen across the cryptocurrency industry. Major crypto players are seeking recognition and regulation in jurisdictions known for their robust financial frameworks. Singapore, with its proactive regulatory stance towards digital assets, has become a sought-after destination for global crypto firms.
Upbit’s vision and expansion plans
Upbit isn’t merely satisfied with continuing its existing operations. Sondhi sheds light on the broader vision the firm holds for its presence in Singapore. “Our primary business has been on the digital asset exchange business, we will continue to build that out but also focus on the institutional segment and infrastructure projects,” he said. This signals Upbit’s aim to diversify its offerings, catering to institutional investors and participating in larger blockchain and digital infrastructure initiatives.
Further emphasizing this point, Sondhi adds, “There are also some other market segments we believe we can work well within.” This remark alludes to potential forays into new market segments, further bolstering its position as a comprehensive digital assets service provider. The company has been on a hiring spree since April, bringing in additional expertise to achieve these ambitious goals. These expansionary efforts underscore Upbit’s dedication to becoming an integral part of Singapore’s digital assets landscape.
A boost for Singapore’s growing digital assets ecosystem
Azman Hamid, Upbit Singapore’s Chief of Compliance, expressed his optimism on the recent developments. He believes that the approval stands as a testament to the exchange’s unwavering commitment to building its businesses in Singapore. “We will contribute to further establish Singapore as the leading hub for the next generation of financial businesses,” Hamid stated, echoing the sentiments of many in the fintech industry who view Singapore as a major hub for digital innovation.
Upon full approval, Upbit will join an exclusive club of crypto firms with a full MPI digital payment token service license from MAS. This month alone has witnessed the Singaporean counterparts of major crypto giants like Coinbase, Ripple, and Sygnum Bank receiving their respective license approvals from MAS. With these approvals, the total number of MAS-licensed digital payment token service firms has risen to 15.
It is pertinent to mention that Coinbase was fully approved for its MPI license on October 2nd. Following closely, crypto trading firm GSR secured its in-principle approval for its MPI on the same day. Swiss crypto bank Sygnum’s Singapore branch clinched its full MPI license a day later, and Ripple finalized its MPI licensing process on October 4th.
As global cryptocurrency exchanges like Upbit make strides in the Singaporean financial arena, it underscores Singapore’s position as a leading hub for digital finance and innovation. The recent spate of MPI license approvals by MAS illustrates the country’s forward-thinking approach to digital assets. With the likes of Coinbase, Ripple, Sygnum Bank, and now Upbit Singapore making their mark, the island nation is positioning itself at the forefront of the evolving global crypto ecosystem.