Singapore is rapidly becoming a global blockchain development hotspot. In addition to being home to a thriving community of blockchain start-ups, Singapore’s central bank (The Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS) has declared that blockchain is a “fundamental” technology.
While speaking at Consensus: Singapore Damien Pang, the head of technology infrastructure MAS, said that,
“We take an approach where our regulations aim at the purpose rather than the technology platform itself,” and continued, “We aim not to directly regulate a specific technology itself, because technologies are always getting better.”
There are few other places in the world that have created such an open legal framework for blockchain and cryptocurrency. Singapore has also been a big beneficiary of China’s love/hate relationship with cryptos. China has recently made an about-face in terms of blockchain policy, but Beijing is still very negative on cryptocurrency in general.
Singapore is Attracting a lot of Investment
57 blockchain-focused projects in Singapore raised more than $570 million USD via ICOs in the second quarter of this year, which compares with just 14 projects based in Hong Kong that brought in $47.6 million USD.
Singapore breaks digital assets into three groups: payment tokens, utility tokens, and securities. While onstage at Consensus: Singapore, Damien Pang made it a point to mention that the MAS has no plans to regulate utility tokens, but they will introduce a payment service law for payment tokens by the end of 2018.
The MAS has already teamed up with Singapore’s stock exchange and three other partners to create a digital token settlement system that will be blockchain-based. Called “Project Ubin”, the program will likely help Singapore cement its position as a global crypto hub.
Major First-Mover Advantages
The talent pool for blockchain development is pretty tight at the moment. With limited human resources, Singapore is potentially creating a blockchain development culture that will be difficult to challenge. Once talented people have access to a well-regulated economy, and easy development capital, it isn’t likely they will stray too far from their home.
Unlike China or the USA, Singapore is moving quickly to establish a reliable legal framework for digital assets, which will help companies to invest confidently in the nation-state. China’s crackdown on one of the world’s most promising new technologies has driven companies like imToken, Bitmain and Huobi to open regional headquarters there.
Singapore offers major advantages for companies that need access to both new technology and established banking infrastructure. As a global banking hub, they can give blockchain start-ups an upper hand in a sector that is probably going to revolutionize the financial industry.
Leading blockchain PR firm Wachsman just announced they would be opening up their first Asian office, in Singapore of all places. They are planning on expanding their current staff, and will probably help some of Singapore’s blockchain start-ups to spend some of the money they have been pulling in.
The firm’s founder and CEO, David Wachsman, said this via a press release about their new venture,
“With its long-held reputation as a fintech hotspot, a birthplace of digital innovation, and as a favorable environment for blockchain adoption, Singapore was the clear choice for the next phase of our firm’s global expansion. Asia holds significant influence over the global blockchain industry, particularly at the protocol and development level. Our clients have often enquired about Wachsman’s global presence and today our footprint in Singapore enables us to provide coverage across every timezone.”
Wachsman has plans to beef-up its staff globally over the next few years as well. Their business could be viewed as a barometer of how much the blockchain industry has expanded over the last few years. David Wachsman began the firm back in 2015, and was the only employee. Now they have offices in Dublin, New York, and soon, Singapore.