Crypto exchange Coinbase gets license in Singapore

Quick Take

  • Coinbase received a license from the Singapore regulator.
  • The crypto exchange operator plans to expand in Asia, focusing on serving institutions.

Crypto exchange operator Coinbase announced Monday that it received a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as it plans to expand in Asia.

The license — an in-principle approval as a major payments institution — allows Coinbase to offer regulated digital payment token (DPT) products and services in the city-state. Coinbase said in a statement that gaining the license "is an important step, as we plan to launch our full suite of retail, institutional and ecosystem products." 

Coinbase is now one of over a dozen crypto firms that have received licenses in Singapore, including Paxos, Crypto.com and DBS Vickers — the brokerage run by Singapore's largest bank DBS. Licensed firms are required to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) requirements for providing crypto services. Coinbase rival Binance pulled out of Singapore after withdrawing its licensing application in late 2021. 

Notably, in-principle approvals are not final. A Paxos spokesperson recently told The Block that the in-principle license allows the company to continue its Singapore operations, while final approval requires further work with regulators and passing an exam.

Coinbase considers Singapore the hub for institutional business in Asia. The firm said Singapore is the top financial center in Asia and the third in the world after New York and London, and is keen to serve institutional clients, including banks and asset managers, as they show increasing interest in investing directly in digital assets.

Coinbase reportedly already employs 100 people in Singapore, with product engineers forming the largest chunk of those staff. Coinbase's venture unit has also invested in over 15 Singapore-based crypto startups in the past three years and plans to continue backing the local ecosystem.

"Singapore plays a critical regulatory and commercial role in APAC and beyond, and serves as our global talent hub; we are excited to continue investing and building for the crypto economy here," said Coinbase.


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