Singapore’s New President is No Big Crypto Fan; Called It Crazy

Vignesh Karunanidhi
Singapore's New President is No Big Crypto Fan; He Called It Slightly Crazy

The election of Tharman Shanmugaratnam as Singapore’s new president means the country will be led by someone with an ambivalent stance on cryptocurrency and its regulation.

Shanmugaratnam previously served as Singapore’s finance minister and central bank chair. In those roles, he made several skeptical comments about the crypto market, even as Singapore emerged as a crypto hub.

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The new president once called crypto “purely speculative” and “slightly crazy,” urging only clarity on risks rather than outright bans. Yet under his central bank leadership, Singapore saw the collapse of native crypto players Terraform Labs and Three Arrows Capital.

Singapore’s crypto future to remain uncertain?

This track record leaves uncertainty around how Shanmugaratnam may influence crypto policy as president, despite the position’s limited governmental power.

On the one hand, he took a hands-off approach in 2018, stating crypto posed no systemic threat then and required no prohibition. But more recently, Shanmugaratnam supported tough bank capital requirements for crypto assets.

His stances sit amidst Singapore’s broader, complex crypto evolution, from its early embrace to recent clampdowns. The country still aims to strike the right regulatory balance.

For the crypto industry, all eyes will be on whether President Shanmugaratnam sticks to his early assumptions. Or whether lessons learned will lead him to champion tighter control and oversight during his tenure.