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"Cryptocurrencies Have Failed": More SFF, More MAS

Blockhead returns to SFF for more MAS announcements, including a shocker from Ravi Menon. Also, Hex wins a license in Dubai, Bordier & Cie partners Sygnum, Paxos wins provisional approval for USD stablecoin in SG, and StraitsX receives IPA.

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Day 2 of Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) has kicked off with a bang. MAS, which announced a "Mega Update" yesterday, returned to the stage in the form of Ravi Menon to lambast cryptocurrencies.

In yesterday's highly anticipated "Mega Update," MAS unveiled five more pilots to its Project Guardian blockchain initiative to focus on asset tokenization:

  • Citi, Trowe Price Associates and Fidelity International
  • BNY Mellon and OCBC
  • Ant International
  • Franklin Templeton
  • J.P. Morgan and Apollo

The pilots will explore use cases for tokenized assets across the capital markets value chain. MAS further announced a new funds workstream within Project Guardian to address tax, policy and legal issues.

International policymakers and FIs including BNY Mellon, DBS, JP Morgan and MUFG are collaborating with MAS on a new initiative called Global Layer One (GL1).

Leong Sing Chiong, Deputy Managing Director, MAS, explained that "GL1 will provide a foundational digital backbone and bring markets together with similar principles of openness and accessibility as the public internet."

Whilst on Wednesday MAS expressed excitement for tokenization and digital assets, MD Ravi Menon berated crypto during his opening presentation at SFF a day later, marking his final appearance at SFF.

"Cryptocurrencies have failed the test of digital money," Menon boldly stated on stage in his SFF swansong. "They have performed poorly as a medium of exchange or store of value, their prices are subject to sharp speculative swings, and many investors in cryptocurrencies have suffered significant losses."

Nonetheless, Menon reiterated his supportive stance on well-regulated stablecoins and CBDCs.

"Wholesale CBDCs and tokenized liabilities can play the role of digital money and help to achieve atomic settlement," he said, adding, "Stablecoins – if well regulated – can potentially play a useful role as digital money alongside CBDCs and tokenized liabilities."

Menon also announced that MAS "will pilot the 'live' issuance of wholesale CBDCs to instantaneously settle payments across commercial banks."

Singapore FinTech Festival Kicks Off With These Announcements
Blockhead is back at Singapore FinTech Festival this year, with a slew of announcements on Day 1.

He also highlighted how Project Guardian is tokenizing foreign exchange, bonds and funds to improve global liquidity and enhance cross-border transactions.

Overall, MAS's approach to digital assets is encouraging, despite Menon's critical (albeit accurate) remarks on crypto. Additional announcements include in-principle approvals granted for StraitsX SGD Issuance, StraitsX USD Issuance and Paxos Digital Singapore (see below), and the next phase of Project Greenprint, which aims to streamline ESG through technology and data.


  • Hex Trust Wins License in Dubai: The institutional-grade digital asset custodian has secured a full Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license from Dubai's Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). “Hex Trust is fully committed to expanding into the Middle East and sees enormous potential for digital asset growth given the progressive regulations, welcoming governments, and thriving crypto ecosystem in the region,” Filippo Buzzi, Hex's regional director of MENA, said in an announcement.
  • Bordier & Cie Partners with Sygnum Singapore for Digital Asset Services: Bordier & Cie, a Swiss private bank dating back to 1844, has teamed up with Sygnum Singapore to offer digital asset services. This marks Bordier's entry into the world of digital assets and establishes it as Sygnum Singapore’s first B2B client since Sygnum received its MAS Major Payment Institutions licence. This strategic move allows Bordier to leverage Sygnum’s expertise in institutional-grade custody and risk management, aligning with Singapore's growth as a leading financial and wealth management center, especially in digital assets.
  • Paxos Wins Provisional Approval for USD Stablecoin in Singapore: Paxos Digital Singapore will issue a new US dollar stablecoin that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has acknowledged to be substantively compliant with its proposed stablecoin regulatory framework, according to an announcement. Upon receiving full approval, Paxos said it will be able to partner with enterprise clients to issue its USD-backed stablecoin in Singapore. Paxos’ product offerings include a cryptocurrency brokerage service, asset tokenization services, and settlement services.
  • StraitsX Receives In-Principle Approval from MAS for Stablecoins: The Singapore-based digital assets platform has received In-Principle Approval (IPA) from the MAS for issuing single-currency pegged stablecoins (SCS), XSGD and XUSD, pegged to Singapore and US dollars respectively. This approval aligns StraitsX with MAS’ upcoming stablecoin regulatory framework. "Beyond XSGD, StraitsX intends to fully maintain the same high degree of value stability for future stablecoins we may issue, such as XUSD, allowing for timely redemption for our users, and for StraitsX to continue upholding strong prudential standards,” Kenny Chan, head of StraitsX, said in an announcement.

Blockhead is a media partner of the Singapore Fintech Festival.