JAN 10, 2024
Report finds Asian nations strengthening regulatory oversight of crypto
In a global effort to bolster regulatory control over the cryptocurrency sector, Asian nations feature prominently among 17 jurisdictions globally, who have implemented tighter cryptocurrency regulations in 2023.
2023 notable for regulatory tightening
The increased scrutiny comes on the heels of several crypto meltdowns in 2022, including the collapse of major platforms like Terraform Labs, Celsius, BlockFi and FTX, resulting in a market rout that wiped out trillions of dollars in value. The subsequent year witnessed an extraordinary surge in regulatory measures globally, with governments prioritizing consumer protection in the volatile crypto space.
TRM Labs' report indicates that the jurisdictions strengthening consumer protection measures accounted for 80% of the 21 studied, representing 70% of global exposure to cryptocurrencies. As the crypto ecosystem grappled with the aftermath of the FTX collapse at the beginning of 2023, regulatory actions surged, shaping a transformative year for the industry.
The TRM Labs report emphasizes that nearly half of the jurisdictions tightening crypto regulations in 2023 prioritized increasing consumer protection measures. Additionally, international organizations, including the G20, Financial Action Task Force, Financial Stability Board, International Monetary Fund and the International Organization of Securities Commissions, played a role in shaping global frameworks and policy recommendations for cryptocurrency regulation.
While prominent regulatory moves included the European Union's implementation of the Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA) in June, Asian countries were particularly active in rolling out regulatory controls and measures relative to digital asset markets.
Stronger measures in Singapore
Singapore, recognized as an early adopter of crypto regulation, took significant steps in November to curb retail speculation in cryptocurrencies. The city-state’s central bank and financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), brought in these restrictions following a year-long public consultation process, together with a review of cryptocurrency platforms.
The country set itself apart from other jurisdictions by becoming one of the first to finalize rules governing stablecoins. That regulatory action included the establishment of a comprehensive framework relative to stablecoin operations.
South Korea and Australia increased scrutiny of the cryptocurrency sector, contributing to the global trend of regulatory tightening.
Hong Kong licensing
Hong Kong introduced a new licensing regime for centralized crypto exchanges, aligning with its goal to become a global hub for virtual asset businesses.
Following its major initiative in October 2022 to support the virtual asset sector, it has since implemented a mandatory licensing regime for centralized crypto exchanges, allowing them to accept retail investors. Eleven companies, including OKX, one of the largest exchanges by trading volume, have submitted applications for the license in the city.
In December, Hong Kong followed Singapore’s lead, by proposing stringent rules for stablecoin issuers, prohibiting unlicensed companies from selling stablecoins to the city's retail investors through regulated channels or actively marketing their tokens within the city.
These rules are considered challenging for stablecoin issuers and may potentially deter major stablecoin operators like Tether and USDC from entering the city, according to experts. As Hong Kong solidifies its regulatory stance, it positions itself alongside other major players, contributing to the global evolution of cryptocurrency oversight.