Ripple obtains full license to operate in Singapore

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Brad Garlinghouse, chief executive officer of Ripple Labs Inc., speaks during the Token2049 conference in Singapore, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.

Joseph Nair | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Cryptocurrency company Ripple said on Wednesday that it has obtained a major payments institution license in Singapore, a strategic step toward growing its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The new development comes less than four months after the Monetary Authority of Singapore granted an initial in-principle approval in June. With the full license, Ripple will continue to provide regulated crypto payment services in Singapore.

“Over 90% of Ripple’s business is outside of the U.S., and Singapore – and to a larger degree Asia Pacific – is one of its fastest growing regions,” the company said.

Ripple said it will continue to prioritize the region for adoption of its crypto payment services.

Monica Long, president of Ripple, told CNBC in an interview last month that the Singapore office’s “headcount has more than doubled in the past year because our business within the Asia-Pacific region has really exploded.”

Singapore has led crypto regulation in the region. The country’s Payment Services Act — which regulates payment services and the provision of crypto services to the public — has been in effect since January 2020.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse: This crypto ruling puts the SEC in check 'in a good way'

The city-state has also stepped up scrutiny on crypto firms. It ordered crypto service providers to safekeep customer assets under a statutory trust before the end of 2023. It also restricts such firms from facilitating lending or staking of their retail customers’ assets.

“Since establishing Singapore as our Asia Pacific headquarters in 2017, the country has been pivotal to Ripple’s global business. We have hired exceptional talent and local leadership … and plan to continue growing our presence in a progressive jurisdiction like Singapore,” Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, said in a statement.

“Under MAS’ leadership, Singapore has developed into one of the leading fintech and digital asset hubs striking the balance between innovation, consumer protection and responsible growth,” said Garlinghouse.

In the U.S., however, Ripple and Coinbase are embroiled in lawsuits with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC charged Ripple and its founders in 2020, alleging they illegally sold its native cryptocurrency XRP without first registering it with the SEC. But in July, a landmark ruling determined the token was not, in itself, necessarily a security.

Coinbase, Ripple and other crypto firms have slammed the U.S. for a lack of clarity around crypto rules and threatened to leave the country in response to the SEC’s crackdown.

Coinbase announced on Monday that it has obtained a major payment institution license in Singapore, after obtaining in-principle approval about a year ago. Ripple and Coinbase join more than a dozen firms that are licensed to offer crypto services in Singapore.

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