(Adds license application statistics in paragraph 6)
SINGAPORE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday issued guidelines that limit cryptocurrency trading service providers from promoting their services to the general public, as part of a bid to shield retail investors from potential risks.
Singapore is a popular location for cryptocurrency companies due to a comparatively clear regulatory and operating environment and is among the forerunners globally in developing a formal licensing framework.
But the city-state's authorities have repeatedly warned that trading in digital payment tokens (DPT), or cryptocurrency, is highly risky and not suitable for the general public, as they are subject to sharp speculative swings.
The new guidelines clarify the expectations of MAS that companies should not engage in marketing or advertising of DPT services in public areas in Singapore or through the engagement of third parties, such as social media influencers, to promote DPT services to the general public.
They can only market or advertise on their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.
MAS said it has received about 180 applications for licences to provide DPT services, of which five have been awarded in-principle approvals. Sixty have withdrawn their applications and three have been rejected. MAS did not disclose the status of the other applications.
"MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases," Loo Siew Yee, MAS Assistant Managing Director (Policy, Payments and Financial Crime), said in a statement.
"But the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public. DPT service providers should therefore not portray the trading of DPTs in a manner that trivialises the high risks of trading in DPTs, nor engage in marketing activities that target the general public." (Reporting by Chen Lin in Singapore Writing by Aradhana Aravindan Editing by Ed Davies)