Singapore Approaches Cryptos, NFTs and Metaverse With Caution
In a written reply to a question from a parliament member, the Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said the government is tapping these “early-stage” technologies’ characteristics and risks.
“The Government will seek to balance between promoting economic vitality, preserving social stability and protecting public security in the digital domain.”
Minister Iswaran noted.
Though the interactive and decentralized elements of these technologies show potential growth, Singapore is approaching them with caution.
He continued that given the borderless nature of Metaverse, “international coordination of regulatory approaches” is important. Also, individuals should make sure to deal with technologies like NFTs with caution, even as they prove to open opportunities.
Another MP urged the public to deal with entities that are only regulated by the city-state’s central bank – the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
The Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam has warned the public to “ask, check and confirm” before making any crypto transactions or investments.
“If the offer from an investment platform or online game appears too good to be true, it could be a scam,” he wrote. He responded to a question regarding a recent crypto gaming scam in Singapore, dubbed “Neko Inu.”
His warnings come at a time when many nations are vigilant over such scams and issuing cautionary notices to people. The US FTC, for instance, warned about a new scam involving crypto ATMs for transactions.
Crypto “Gaming Craze”
Last month, over 20 police reports were made against a Singaporean who was behind the “Neko Inu” play-to-earn crypto gaming craze. The game allegedly cost local players to lose more than $100,000 in cryptocurrency.
The game, which acts like a Ponzi scheme, allows players to earn Tether (USDT). It has cartoon pets as NFTs, which can be traded or sold to cash out the USDT.
According to a player, the game developer converted all player’s USDT earnings to a coin called Neko$, which is neither listed on any crypto exchanges, nor players can cash out their USDTs. The gaming platform, however, did not have support for other cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“We were shocked to find that our USDT was turned into Neko$. The conversion was one USDT to five Neko$,” the victim told to local news.
In order to address such scams, the government is stepping up “investigation efforts,” Minister Shanmugam added. Measures include educating the public on cryptocurrency-related scams and increasing public awareness, given the difficulties involved in investigating such anonymous and overseas crypto scams.
Singapore To Become a Crypto Hub
The island nation has been constantly involved in embracing nascent technologies like NFTs, Metaverse, Blockchain and others.
Singapore officials have also expressed their desire to make it a hub for crypto and fintech developments, however, by exercising caution.
In December’21, Singapore’s central bank proved to be one of the toughest regulators by rejecting over 100 licensing applications from cryptocurrency firms.
According to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei, out of the 176 businesses that applied for a license to offer “digital payment token services,” 103 have either withdrawn their applications or have been rejected by MAS.
MAS has shown how serious it is on deciding over unregulated entities after the exit of the world’s largest exchange Binance and its local subsidiary Binance.sg from the country, despite the fact that its CEO Changpeng Zhao resides in Singapore.
The central bank has been insisting that cryptocurrencies and blockchain tech play a major role in shaping the future of finance. However, it is keen to harness the risks that these pose to online safety, consumer protection, privacy, and protection of intellectual property.