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MAR 8, 2024

World’s oldest exchange gains in-principle approval in Singapore

by CoinNess Global

Bitstamp, regarded as the longest-running cryptocurrency exchange in the business, declared on March 6 that it has obtained in-principle approval for a license to function as a Major Payment Institution (MPI) from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

First major Euro exchange in Singapore

This preliminary approval, a precursor to a full-fledged license for operation in Singapore, marks a significant milestone for Bitstamp towards offering digital payment token services within the city-state. According to the exchange's press release, it's the first crypto trading platform with a substantial presence in the European Union (EU) to secure such approval from MAS.
The nod from Singapore’s financial regulator arrives amidst notable regulatory strides in the crypto domain, including the European Union’s rollout of the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) framework and the green light given by the U.S. for Bitcoin ETFs.

Focusing on Asia

Bitstamp's strategic focus on the Asia Pacific region, with Singapore as its central hub, underscores its focus in delivering services to both institutional and retail clientele across the region. The firm’s intent in this regard became clear in August of last year when Bitstamp sought capital funding to enable it to extend the platform’s reach into various markets across Asia.
Whilst the company’s origins can  be traced back to Slovenia, it has since developed further ties with Asia. In 2018, the company was acquired by NXMH, a subsidiary of South Korea’s NXC Corporation. The same holding company owns Korean crypto exchange Korbit.

Compliance strategy

While the licensing is quite the achievement, the company already boasts a robust regulatory track record, surpassing the 50-license mark across key markets such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France the United States (with coverage in 40 states including New York, Washington, Texas and Florida) and the United Kingdom.
In its press release the company referred to its ever-growing licensing collection, outlining that “compliance and regulation [are] at the heart of all operations.”
Leonard Hoh, Bitstamp's APAC General Manager, lauded Singapore's proactive stance in establishing a regulatory framework for crypto exchanges, positioning the city-state as a pivotal player in the digital assets landscape. Singapore has already granted full licenses to several crypto service providers, including Blockchain.comCircleCoinbase and Ripple.
In late 2023, Bitstamp initiated talks with three major European banks regarding the potential introduction of cryptocurrency services in 2024. This signals a broader trend within the EU, where the crypto regulatory initiative, MiCA, is smoothing the path for traditional financial institutions to venture into the digital assets realm.
Robert Zagotta, Bitstamp’s Chief Commercial Officer, highlighted the surge in interest surrounding its “Bitstamp-as-a-Service” offering, especially within European circles. This service furnishes a white-label licensing framework, coupled with requisite technology, to aid banks and fintech entities in facilitating cryptocurrency transactions for their clientele.
However, the regulatory landscape isn't as welcoming in India, where the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) urged the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to block the URLs of nine major global crypto exchanges, including Bitstamp, in late 2023.
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