Singapore High Court rules crypto not different from fiat money or shells

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  • Cryptocurrencies will now be viewed as property in Singapore.
  • The high court also demystified the notion that cryptocurrencies do not hold any value.
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will implement segregation and custody requirements for digital payment tokens.

According to a ruling made on July 25 by Judge Philip Jeyaretnam of the High Court of Singapore, cryptocurrency is considered property that can be held in trust. The judge stated that as long as all of those objects, whether physical or not, share value that is created by a shared faith in it, he did not see any distinction between cryptocurrencies, fiat currency, or shells.

Judge Jeyaretnam pronounced himself in a case brought by ByBit against its former employee, Ho Kai Xin. According to ByBit, the employee transferred about 4.2 million Tether (USDT) from the cryptocurrency exchange to her personal accounts. He has been claiming that a distant cousin is in charge of the pertinent accounts, and the court has now ordered him to return all of the money to ByBit.

The legal standing of digital assets in Singapore

Even though the ruling may appear obvious, it contains some formulations that are crucial for the legal standing of digital assets. The stolen USDT and all cryptocurrencies are considered property by Judge Jeyaretnam.

Despite their lack of physical presence, the Judge is of the opinion that:

“We identify what is going on as a particular digital token, somewhat like how we give a name to a river even though the water contained within its banks is constantly changing.”

The judge also corrected the widespread belief that cryptocurrency lacks “real” value by pointing out that value is “a judgement made by an aggregate of human minds.” Cryptography was categorised by Jeyaretnam as one of the “things in action.”

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which will implement segregation and custody requirements for digital payment tokens, was cited by the judge in support of his ruling. The Judge points out that it should be legally possible to hold such digital assets on trust if it is practical to identify and separate them.

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