The FTX Exchange (“FTX”) was a centralized cryptocurrency exchange with derivatives and leveraged products.
FTX was founded in 2018 by Sam Bankman-Fried, an MIT graduate and former Jane Street Capital international exchange-traded funds trader.
The truth is that as both Binance.com (“Binance”) and FTX are not licensed here, there is a clear difference between the two: Binance actively solicited Singaporean users while FTX did not.
This is why Binance was specifically added to the Investor Alert List (“IAL”), while FTX was not.
Binance was ordered to stop soliciting Singapore users by MAS. Binance took various measures to assure MAS that it was no longer doing so, including geo-blocking Singapore IP addresses and removing its mobile application from Singapore app stores. As a result, Binance demonstrated beyond doubt that it was no longer soliciting and providing services to Singaporeans. In the event that Binance decides to remove some of these restrictions now, it must continue to comply with the prohibition against soliciting Singapore users without a license.
MAS has consistently warned about the dangers of dealing with unregulated entities.
There are hundreds of these exchanges and thousands of offshore entities accepting non-crypto investments. It is impossible to list them all, and no regulatory body has done so.
IALs warn the public about entities that may be mistakenly perceived as MAS-regulated, especially those that solicit Singapore customers for financial services without MAS licences. However, it does not mean thousands of offshore companies not listed on the IAL are safe to deal with.
A key lesson from FTX is that cryptocurrency trading is hazardous on any platform.
Crypto exchanges are not immune to failure. In Singapore, even if a crypto exchange were licensed, it would only be regulated to reduce money-laundering risks, not to protect investors. It is similar to the approach currently taken by most jurisdictions. Recently, MAS published a consultation paper proposing basic investor protection measures for crypto players licensed to operate in Singapore.
Moreover, even if a crypto exchange is well-managed, cryptocurrencies themselves are highly volatile, and many have lost all value.
Cryptocurrencies carry huge risks, as evidenced by the ongoing turmoil in the industry.