CoinPasar revisits the crypto exchange platform as Binance users deal with the sudden changes imposed by MAS.
It has been two weeks since the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered Binance to cease payment services to its Singaporean users, and it had been a period of worry and uncertainty for Singaporean Binance users during the week between the order and the halting of payment services on the exchange.
In response to the order, the exchange had stated that it will stop offering SGD trading pairs and payment options today at 4am, and SGD trading pairs will also be removed from Binance P2P services. Plus, the mobile app would be removed from the Singapore iOS and Google Play stores.
While it was unclear if the app itself would be inaccessible to Singapore users, a quick check on the team’s mobile phones showed that the Binance app was still accessible a day after the deadline.
- While SGD payments have been removed, users are still able to purchase crypto or engage in P2P trading under other currencies such as EUR, AUD, and GBP, and charge it to their credit cards.
- The Binance app was available for download on Google Play and iOS app store the following Monday, but has since been taken off the platforms. Users who have downloaded the app previously are still able to access it.
- Binance services such as spot and margin trading, earning, and staking are not affected for Binance users
- Cryptocurrencies on the Binance platform are still accessible for Binance users
We found a split in sentiments for Binance users when we browsed through local cryptocurrency online forums on Reddit before the deadline. Some were worried that the exchange would be shut down completely for Singaporeans, while others believed that the platform will generally be accessible without any major changes.
Across the board, the community raised some common questions, such as are Binance users still allowed to trade and access margins and futures, will their crypto assets be frozen, can users still use the app if they already have it on their mobile phones, and will it affect products that are locked in staking and liquid swaps, especially for those who have locked their Ethereum cryptocurrencies in in Binance’s ETH2 staking.
To gain some clarity on the issue, CoinPasar reached out to Binance.com for further comments. A Binance.com spokesperson stated that the platform was working closely with MAS and other global regulators to comply with the relevant regulatory standards and facilitate any required service changes, while actively keeping abreast of changing policies, rules and laws.
“We are ready to assist regulators from around the world and together find the optimal way to set a fair playing field – consumer protection is important to all of us. We are committed to our industry for the long term and want to create a sustainable ecosystem around blockchain technology.” said the Binance.com spokesperson.
When asked for further comments on the questions raised by the online community, the spokesperson for Binance.com declined to comment.
To understand how the announcement impacted small retail traders, CoinPasar reached out to Binance users to understand their thoughts on the matter. We found similar sentiments that mirrored the online community with some being anxious and felt the need to withdraw their digital assets, while others were confident the order would not impact their trading activity on the app. Despite the difference in opinions, most of the interviewees indicated that they did withdraw a portion of their cryptocurrencies to digital wallets or other exchanges after the news.
One thing they agreed on was that Binance did not communicate the situation to its user in a clear manner. Interviewees indicated that the exchange could have reassured their Singaporean users via the app or continued posting online updates to show their sincerity and commitment to the issue, while others were irate that the exchange had not provide a clear notification through their communication channels of the impending news.
While Binance users may have been slightly shaken by the episode, the confidence in crypto investing remains firm in Singapore. Gemini Exchange’s recent report on cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven more than two-thirds of current crypto holders to increase their investments in crypto with 81% of crypto holders investing for the long term, 58% of crypto holders trading it for profits, and 43% using it to earn interest.
Within the APAC region, Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines have positioned themselves as the leading adopters of cryptocurrency globally, despite ongoing pushbacks by financial authorities in SEA nations like Thailand and Malaysia. While the recent MAS order may show Singapore as regressive by comparison, the local financial authorities are leading cryptocurrency adoptions in a cautious manner with the go-ahead of In-Principle Approvals to cryptocurrency exchanges that meet the Payment Services Act (PSA) requirements.
Binance is taking steps to gain back the confidence of local authorities too. Binance SG, a separate entity from Binance.com, has recently hired financial regulations veteran Richard Teng to establish greater regulatory compliance, and the company is also in the process of applying a license application under the PSA. With other cryptocurrency exchanges choosing to work closely with authorities to capture a slice of Singapore’s crypto pie, Binance will have no choice but to tighten its regulations soon.
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