Upbit, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, has received initial approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a major payment institution license under the Payment Services Act. This regulatory milestone will enable Upbit Singapore to expand its regional business operations, primarily catering to institutional investors.
Upbit Singapore, established in 2018, offers regulated digital payment token (DPT) services, with a specific focus on non-retail clients such as family offices, private trusts, and high-net-worth individuals. These institutional investors have increasingly turned to Singapore amid global geopolitical uncertainties, contributing to the growth of assets under management in the region.
While the exchange also serves retail investors, the MAS has previously cautioned against crypto speculation for this group due to the volatile and high-risk nature of cryptocurrency trading.
Upbit’s South Korean business primarily serves retail investors, whereas the Singapore entity acts as the Asia-Pacific arm for its global operations. Beyond Singapore, Upbit also operates in Indonesia and Thailand, with a workforce of approximately 80 employees in the region, including 20 in Singapore.
Raks Sondhi, Chief Operating Officer at Upbit Singapore, expressed their intent to increase compliance and legal, institutional, and Web3 business development personnel following this regulatory approval. Upon receiving the full license, the exchange plans to expand its offerings, including digital assets, liquidity, and institutional services.
Upbit Singapore’s progress is part of a broader trend in the region, with more than a dozen market players having obtained full licenses to offer DPT services. Prominent entities like Coinbase, Ripple, and Sygnum Singapore have recently joined this list.
Singapore has positioned itself as a hub for blockchain and Web3 exploration, but it hasn’t been immune to the challenges of the cryptocurrency industry, including market downturns and business closures. Upbit Singapore aims to address these challenges by building essential infrastructure, fostering partnerships, and focusing on sustainable innovation. Additionally, the exchange is developing core ecosystem businesses, such as VerifyVASP, a significant travel rule solution provider that facilitates the exchange of customer information to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
Despite industry uncertainties, Upbit remains committed to enhancing its presence in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space in Singapore, with a focus on serving institutional clients and expanding its range of services and offerings in the region.
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