Singapore Central Bank Chooses Not to Interfere with Bitcoin

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country's central bank, has decided not to interfere with transactions made in the digital currency.

The MAS decision echoes sentiments expressed by the Singapore government that the bank should not regulate virtual currencies.

"Whether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene," says MAS in an email to the Singapore-based trading platform Coin Republic, according to multiple reports.

Japan and Germany have also taken an open stance on Bitcoin, choosing to keep the digital currency unregulated for the time being. Bitcoin has blossomed in Germany, especially in Berlin, where many merchants have started accepting the virtual currency. Germany's Fidor Bank partnered with Payward Ltd., which runs the Kraken digital currency exchange, in October, making Payward the bank's exclusive trading platform throughout the European Union.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the U.S. was the first to issue guidance on virtual currency. Fincen categorized exchangers and administrators as money services businesses, likely prompting states to categorize these businesses as money transmitters that must obtain state licenses. Many Bitcoin businesses have considered heading to more Bitcoin-friendly countries.

MAS issued a warning to consumers in September, mainly focused on the lack of a party responsible for refunds if bitcoins were to be stolen or if the Bitcoin system were to cease operation, according to AsiaOne, an online business and lifestyle publication.

Many countries and central banks have since issued similar warnings to its residents, including France, Australia and New Zealand.

Other countries have begun to tighten rules regulating the digital currency. This month, China banned financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions and several days later issued a ban on third-party payment service providers from offering clearing services to Bitcoin exchanges.  

Denmark is considering amendments to its financial legislation to encompass virtual currency, and it may cover digital currency under money laundering rules. 

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