Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s newly elected president and former deputy prime minister, is advocating for a harmonized regulatory framework that would govern both cryptocurrency and traditional financial sectors. He has emphasized that the public should be cognizant of the existence of “one regulatory system for everything,” cautioning that those who venture outside this framework do so at their own risk.
Previously serving as Singapore’s deputy prime minister, finance minister, and education minister, Shanmugaratnam was also the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2011 until 2023. His election as Singapore’s ninth president reflects his versatile experience in various government roles.
Before winning the presidential race, Shanmugaratnam had already expressed his views on the necessity of regulating the cryptocurrency sector. He asserted earlier that the same rules governing traditional finance should be applicable to the crypto industry. “If crypto or blockchain endeavors to replicate what traditional finance does, the same set of regulations concerning capital, liquidity, and reserve backing should be enforced,” he explained.
Shanmugaratnam has particularly emphasized that certain aspects of the cryptocurrency market, like stablecoins, require regulation. He has also been clear that to combat money laundering, all financial activities, whether they involve cryptocurrencies or traditional finance, must be regulated. “The mandate is clear. Regardless of whether it’s crypto or conventional finance, regulatory measures against activities like money laundering are imperative,” he stated.
However, Shanmugaratnam has also expressed reservations about investing in cryptocurrencies. Speaking at a World Economic Forum panel discussion earlier this year, he voiced concerns about the speculative nature of crypto investments. “If we contemplate regulating crypto in the same manner as banks and insurance firms for the sake of financial stability, we need to pause and ponder whether that bestows legitimacy on an inherently speculative and potentially risky venture,” he remarked.
While Shanmugaratnam stresses the importance of public education about the risks involved in crypto investment, he favors an “ultra-clarity” approach. He advocates for absolute transparency about the risks associated with unregulated markets, advising potential investors to steer clear of taking such risks.