If you’re interested in how Southeast Asia is adapting to Bitcoin, Singapore has all the right characteristics to become a world leader in the Bitcoin and blockchain industry. Singapore has been rated as one of the most “technology-ready” nations in the world, due to the ubiquity of its internet, openness to innovation, and well-established digital economy. Additionally, Singapore’s sophisticated market economy provides the basis for the impressive wealth of its citizens, who enjoy the world’s 3rd highest per capita income.
As if such favourable factors weren’t enough; this Southeast Asian city-state is an established hub for global finance, commerce, and trade. Singapore is also regarded as something of a tax haven for its low income tax, as well as various exemptions on capital gains and foreign earnings taxes. Further, Singapore is has a highly-educated population able to grasp the complexities of cryptocurrency.
The combination of all these positive factors – all known spurs to crypto adoption – could only be stymied by government hostility to crypto… Fortunately, Singapore’s government has proven itself open-minded and supportive towards fintech innovation, whilst also taking responsible steps to curb fraud.
Singapore’s regulators were among the earliest to adopt a clear stance on Bitcoin, choosing a permissive approach. Many crypto businesses have been attracted to the region as a result, some even incubated by a government-backed accelerator program. Multiple crypto conferences have also been held in Singapore over the years, indicating a large and active local community.
If you’re in Singapore and looking to get involved in the Bitcoin revolution, this guide contains a quick rundown on the regulatory and tax situation in Singapore. We’ll also explain how you can quickly and easily purchase your own bitcoins from the Coinmama website, using a bank transfer or any credit or debit card issued by either VISA or MasterCard.
Singapore Bitcoin Regulation
Bitcoin usage is considered legal within Singapore, although cryptocurrencies aren’t classified as legal tender. As a result, crypto is not afforded any kind of regulatory protections. As early as December 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) declared that they’d refrain from interference in Bitcoin-denominated commerce
In late 2017, the MAS issued a warning on the risks of crypto speculation. This proved timely, as crypto markets headed downwards soon after. The MAS also issued warnings on the high risks of ICOs in mid-2017, warnings which have again been borne out by subsequent events. From these warnings, it’s clear that regulators are following developments in the crypto space closely.
In February of 2018, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of MAS announced that the agency is developing a regulatory framework for crypto payment services. This regulation is intended to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and is likely to impose KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) requirements on local exchanges. However, it was also emphasized in the PM’s address that no crypto ban is envisaged.
Accordingly, the Monetary Authority of Singapore instituted the Payment Services Act in January of 2020, laying out clear regulations and licensing requirements for local crypto companies and exchanges. The Act also brings crypto payment services in line with existing regulations for traditional finance.
Singapore’s Taxation of Crypto
Singapore’s Inland Revenue Authority has determined that, for taxation purposes, Bitcoin will be treated not as a currency but as a good. The upshot is that the Goods and Services Tax of 7% will apply whenever a business accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment – but only for real-world goods or services. Virtual goods and services are exempt under Singapore’s existing tax laws. Capital gains taxes from Bitcoin investment are also exempt from taxation.
It therefore appears that individuals, as opposed to businesses, are under no Bitcoin-related tax obligations. Coinmama recommends that our clients confirm this impression with a tax or legal professional.
Singapore Bitcoin & Blockchain Projects
Many exciting blockchain projects are happening in Singapore, such as KrisPay; the blockchain-based “air miles” reward system adopted by Singapore Airlines (SIA). Another good example is the Open Trade Blockchain (OTB). Developed by a company owned by Singapore’s government, this service uses a blockchain solution to improve international trading, particularly in the ASEAN region.
Also encouraging was the Memorandum of Understanding signed in March 2018 by the Singapore Fintech Association and its Japanese counterpart. These organizations agreed to cooperate to the benefit of their respective crypto industries. Following this, Japan’s major financial group, SBI Holdings, and Switzerland’s main stock exchange, SIX, are building an institutional crypto trading platform in Singapore, which is expected to go live in 2022.
Also highly significant is Project Ubin, the MAS’s own experiment in blockchain technology. It was also announced in December of 2020 that Singapore’s largest bank, DBS, is creating a cryptocurrency exchange division. It was estimated in 2020 that there are 234 crypto companies operating inside Singapore, with this number surely set to increase as major international institutions and local entrepeneurs alike get involved.
How to Buy Bitcoin in Singapore
Interested in becoming a part of this transformative new industry? Coinmama allows people in Singapore to buy bitcoin (BTC) with Singapore dollars, via a SWIFT bank transfer or by using their credit or debit cards. At this time, only cards issued by VISA or MasterCard are supported.
Here’s how to get started with building up your Bitcoin portfolio, in 4 easy steps:
Step 1 – Create Your Coinmama Account
1. Head to the main corporate header menu and select the light blue “Sign Up” tab at the top right (or click here). Note: if you already have an account, just sign in via the “Log In” button with your existing login details (or click here).
2. Enter your email, password, first name, last name and your country of residence.
3. Look for an email from Coinmama asking you to confirm your account. Click the link in the email to complete the registration process.
** Note: for more information on how to create an account with us, click here.
Step 2 – Get Verified for Purchase
1. To purchase bitcoin (BTC), you first need to become verified.
2. It’s necessary to enter your personal information and upload your ID or passport, plus various other documents depending on which level of verification you wish to reach.
Our verification team works 6:00-23:00 UTC. If everything looks ok, you should be verified in about fifteen minutes during working hours, or as soon as we’re back at our desks. If we have a question about your documents or need more information, we’ll let you know. Once your account is verified, you’re ready to buy Bitcoin!
**Note: for further help with account verification, please click here.
Step 3 – Place your first order
1. Once signed in and verified, click the “Buy” button and select “Bitcoin”.
2. Next, choose the amount you would like to buy. You can select a package, or enter the fiat amount or crypto quantity you’d like to buy of up to roughly $5,000 (as of the time of writing) for card purchases or $15,000 for wire transfer purchases.
3. Supply your Bitcoin wallet address. If you’re unsure what this is, please check out this article. The address you enter is where we’ll send the coins which you buy. You can re-use this address for subsequent purchases or get a new one from your wallet, at your discretion.
4. Then, select the “Go to Payment” button.
Step 4 – the Checkout Page:
Step 4 – Complete your Checkout
1. Select your payment method. Users worldwide can choose to buy bitcoin with a credit card, debit card, bank transfer and now Apple Pay.
2. Enter your payment details and click the “Buy” button.
Note: For card purchases, kindly note that only cards issued by VISA or MasterCard are accepted. As for wire transfer, they usually take 1-2 business days to post. Which means that when paying via wire transfer, you will get the rate at the time your money arrives at our account. This means that during times of high price volatility, you may get a rather different Bitcoin amount (either more or less) than expected.
Once payment has been made, our BTC transaction to your wallet’s address then needs to be confirmed by the Bitcoin network. In approximately 10 minutes, a Bitcoin payment will be broadcast from Coinmama’s wallet to the Bitcoin address you supplied in Step 3, point 3.
Note that during times of especially high traffic, your transaction may take longer than normal to appear as confirmed within your wallet. Ordinarily, the transaction will be confirmed within 10 minutes. For large amounts, this might take a little longer (up to an hour).
Singapore is definitely ahead of the global curve when it comes to cryptocurrency acceptance and integration. All signs point to the continuance of this trend, as Singapore is emerging as one of the best places in the world to be a Bitcoiner or to run a Bitcoin business.
The easiest way to get involved is to simply buy Bitcoin in Singapore.