Singapore suspends cryptocurrency exchange with K-pop group BTS

Singapore’s financial regulator has suspended a major digital currency exchange at the center of a row involving a crypto pension scheme claiming links to South Korea’s largest boy group, BTS.

Singapore’s decision to suspend local operations of Bitget, a jersey sponsor of Italian football team Juventus, comes as the city-state seeks to establish itself as a global cryptocurrency hub.

Bitget in October was threatened with legal action by BTS agency Hybe for promoting digital currency Army Coin, named after enthusiastic supporters of the BTS ARMY group. The owner and creator of the coin is unknown.

The platform had advertised Army Coin as a way to provide lifelong financial support to BTS members “so that they don’t have to worry about surviving but instead let them do whatever they want to do. “. Hybe said the play has nothing to do with BTS.

The episode shows the challenges facing regulators trying to control the crypto industry as digital currencies gain acceptance among retail investors.

Spain’s market regulator last week slammed footballer Andrés Iniesta for a social media post promoting Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange.

A post that promoted Bitget’s army coin

Singapore, a free trade warehouse and financial hub, has been more open to technology than its regional rivals, notably Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Popular cryptocurrency firms Binance, Ripple, and Coinbase have applied for licenses and obtained exemptions from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to serve both retail and institutional clients.

Bitget had also been granted an exemption but it was removed in July, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bitget and MAS both declined to provide details on the reasons for removing Bitget’s exemption.

However, Bitget’s services were still available in Singapore until the end of November, as it promoted Army Coin and its website continued to claim it had MAS approval.

The company has since removed the MAS logo from its site after being contacted by the Financial Times and has blocked users in Singapore from accessing its app and website. Bitget still claims to have licenses in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Bitget did not respond to questions from the FT about why its services were still available to Singaporean residents, even after its exemption was removed.

Meanwhile, Army Coin was also listed on CoinTiger, another cryptocurrency exchange linked to Singapore. CoinTiger’s announcement said the coin “exists for the good of BTS” and “will really support them financially.”

Hybe released a statement in October that the coin had “no connection” to BTS and warned that it would “also take legal action,” but declined to comment on the creator of the Army Coin.

The coin remains available for users to buy and sell in other jurisdictions on Bitget, including South Korea, although trading has been extremely volatile.

FT analysis revealed that the coin fluctuated up to 78 times its value in one day, hovering between $ 1,000 and $ 78,000 within minutes.

The difficulty for regulators in Singapore, as with any jurisdiction, was that they couldn’t stop people from buying risky assets, said Varun Mittal, author of Singapore: the FinTech nation.

“If someone is determined to spend money on these exchanges, regulators cannot stop them,” Mittal said.

Crypto companies have stepped up their advertising efforts to capitalize on growing investor interest. Singapore-based cryptocurrency platform paid more than $ 700 million in November for naming rights to Staples Center, a stadium in Los Angeles.

Bitget announced his sponsorship deal with Juventus in September. The exchange name and logo appear on the team’s black and white jerseys as the club’s very first “round sponsor”.

Video: Cryptocurrencies: How regulators have lost control

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