Singapore’s financial regulatory landscape has recently strengthened its scrutiny of cryptocurrency-related businesses, as evidenced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) decision to black list ImToken, a non-custodial crypto wallet provider. The move underscores Singapore’s proactive stance in regulating the burgeoning crypto sector, with the aim of protecting investors and maintaining the stability of the financial system.
ImToken, founded in 2016 and originally based in Hangzhou, China before moving its headquarters to Singapore, operates a self-custody wallet. It provides decentralized wallet services worldwide, including in Singapore, and differs from centralized custodial services. Despite its global operations, ImToken did not acquire a financial business license in Singapore, which led to its inclusion in the MAS Investor Alert List (IAL) on 5 December 2023. ImToken’s response communicated through social media platforms expresses their active commitment to MAS to clarify their business model and seek debarment from IAL. The company emphasizes that as a decentralized wallet, users’ assets remain unaffected by this development.
The MAS action against ImToken is part of a broader regulatory trend in Singapore, reflecting growing vigilance in the oversight of the crypto sector. This approach follows the inclusion of Binance, a major global cryptocurrency exchange, in MAS IAL in November 2021. MAS’s focus extends to various aspects of the digital asset ecosystem, including crypto exchanges and non-custodial wallets such as ImToken, which offer users more control over theirs private keys and assets, but are perceived as potential risks to investors and the financial system.
The blacklisting of ImToken, along with another crypto-related firm, BKEX, underscores MAS’s commitment to protecting investors and preventing illegal activities in the crypto domain. The move serves as a warning to investors to exercise due diligence when engaging with such platforms and as a reminder to crypto businesses of the importance of complying with local regulations. In response to regulatory concerns, Binance has taken significant steps to comply, including geoblocking IP addresses in Singapore and removing its app from Singapore app stores. This shows the potential path that other affected entities like ImToken may have to follow.
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