Last week, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (the “MAS”) published two important consultation papers that will materially affect the digital asset industry in Singapore, including the attractiveness of Singapore as a destination for operating digital asset businesses. The first consultation paper covers proposed measures for digital payment token services (the “DPT Consultation Paper”). The second consultation paper covers the proposed regulatory approach for stablecoins (the “Stablecoin Consultation Paper” and together with the DPT Consultation Paper, the “Consultation Papers”).
As we internally discussed the best way to consider and provide feedback on the Consultation Papers, we reached the following conclusions:
- While we desire to and will contribute to consolidated industry responses, we also want to prepare our own submission that will reflect our opinions, priorities and values.
- The digital asset industry in Singapore has many brilliant thought leaders (including people we haven’t met yet) and any submission we make would benefit from feedback and criticism from members of the digital asset industry.
- Some of the strengths of the digital asset sector are its community and its belief in transparency. We think it would be a compelling experiment to try to harness these strengths in our response to the Consultation Papers.
- We are nearing the final stages of a rebranding exercise (hence our new logo) in which we will position Holland & Marie, or HM as we will soon be called, as a strategy leader with strengths in regulatory and digital assets.(1) Moving forward, shaping regulatory development and policy with be one of HM’s focus areas.
Here we go.
THE DECENTRALIZED RESPONSE TO THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
Starting today, we will begin preparing a draft response to each of the Consultation Papers and make the working drafts available on Google Docs where people can review the draft responses and provide feedback, including new ideas for us to consider. In this manner, the drafting process will be decentralized as everyone will have the ability to provide input and shape the responses. Depending on interest and amount of feedback we receive, we will organize a zoom session to discuss each draft response and comments received in depth.
The final submissions will not be determined by a decentralized process. The content of the final submissions will be determined by HM in its sole discretion. In candor, we hope our process illuminates certain realities about how “decentralization” often works in practice and its limits. Of course, participants are welcome to make other concurrent submissions to the MAS, whether independently or in collaboration with others.
A MERITOCRACY OF IDEAS
One of HM’s values is that the best ideas should prevail regardless of their origin. The decentralized process for drafting our response will be different from law/consulting firms that collect feedback from their clients or industry associations that share thoughts of their members. In our process, we make no promises to incorporate the feedback we receive. Instead, the feedback received may change our views and the content of submissions, whether modestly or radically. We also hope that the decentralized drafting process will produce a better final response to the Consultation Papers than we would be able to achieve working alone.
OUR BELIEFS AND BIASES
Since we are asking people to participate in this initiative, we think we should disclose some of our biases about regulation generally, as well as on certain issues raised in the Consultation Papers.
Our initial thoughts are:
- Singapore residents, including retail consumers, should have the opportunity to buy and sell digital payment tokens via licensed service providers in Singapore.
- digital payment tokens (as a product), the digital asset industry, and applicable law and regulation are relatively new compared to other regulated investments or financial services. As a result,
- the products are unlikely to be as well understood by customers compared to other products or investments that have been regulated and traded for decades;
- best practices for the digital asset industry are not as developed compared to traditional financial services which result in increased risks to consumers; and
- from time to time, applicable laws and regulations will need to be amended to address gaps discovered and unforeseen market developments.
- regulations and guidelines should be drafted:
- to facilitate good actors;
- to require improved and enhanced disclosures by digital payment token service providers; and
- with a bias to using language consistent with existing financial services regulations to reduce the cost and burdens of compliance.
Finally, we want to acknowledge that writing these laws, regulations and guidelines is difficult. While preparing our response to the Consultation Papers will involve considerable effort, it is a piece of cake compared to what the MAS will have to do to when it considers all the feedback and finalizes the appropriate regulations and guidelines. Our submissions will be respectful of how challenging it is to balance all the factors the MAS will have to consider.
LOGISTICS AND NEXT STEPS
Our draft responses to the Consultation Papers will be kept as a Google Doc. Our draft response (i) the DPT Consultation Paper can be found here and (ii) the Stablecoin Consultation Paper can be found here. Via these links, you may provide comments on our responses, ask questions your make your own suggestions. We plan to submit our responses to the MAS on 20 December 2022. The submission will be made on a non-confidential basis.
As our new logo suggests, HM is focused on looking forward and being open to ideas. We believe this ethos is widely shared within the digital asset industry, as most people in the sector were not talking about blockchains 10 – 15 years ago. We hope you will share your thoughts with us, and help us refine ours, as we all work together to further develop an innovative and responsible digital asset ecosystem in Singapore.
About the Author
Holland & Marie is a compliance, C-Suite and legal solutions firm based in Singapore. We have extensive experience resolving typical compliance issues including regulatory inspections, satisfying regulatory requirements and maintaining best practices in corporate governance to navigate the rapidly changing regulatory landscape.
For further information, contact:
Chris Holland: Partner | Holland & Marie | 201802481R 7 Straits View, Marina One East Tower, #05-01 Singapore 018936
Disclaimer: The material in this post represents general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Holland & Marie Pte. Ltd. is not a law firm and may not act as an advocate or solicitor for purposes of the Singapore Legal Profession Act.
(1) HM will focus on three core capabilities: strategy, in-house counsel services and compliance and regulatory advisory. Further details about the new brand and website will be shared in the near future.