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S'pore will not regulate cryptocurrencies: MAS

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SINGAPORE:  Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will not be regulated but Singapore will remain alert to risks like money laundering.

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said in an interview with Bloomberg News: "As of now I see no basis for wanting to regulate cryptocurrencies... (MAS's focus is to) look at the activities surrounding the cryptocurrency and asking ourselves what kinds of risks they pose, which risks would require a regulatory response, and then proceed from there."

Many central banks have not started supervising cryptocurrencies despite Bitcoin's rally and the proliferation of other digital assets.

"Very few jurisdictions regulate cryptocurrencies per se. Most have taken the approach that the currency itself does not pose a risk that warrants regulation," Mr Menon said in a separate Bloomberg Television interview.

Singapore already requires virtual-currency intermediaries such as exchange operators to comply with requirements to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, he said.

Some countries are taking a stronger approach. China and South Korea have banned initial coin offerings and Russia is taking steps to regulate it.

According to the Kremlin website, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government and the Russian central bank to draft regulations for cryptocurrencies, where interest in the bitcoin and another virtual currency, the ethereum, is booming.

Mr Putin has set a deadline of July next year for the government to come up with a legal definition of the creation and ownership of cryptocurrency, as well as the technology that records virtual money transactions known as "blockchain.", Reuters reported.