(Bloomberg) — Binance Asia Services Ltd., the Singapore affiliate of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has withdrawn its application to run a bourse in the city-state, ending an effort that started last year to win approval from Singapore’s authorities.
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The fiat-to-crypto trading platform Binance.sg will wind down operations and close by Feb. 13, Binance Asia said in an emailed statement. The company was among some 170 firms that applied to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for a permit to provide cryptocurrency services.
The withdrawal from the Singapore process is likely to dampen speculation that the Southeast Asian city-state would become the global headquarters for Binance, the company co-founded and headed by the entrepreneur Changpeng Zhao.
“We always put our users first, so our decision to close Binance.sg was not taken lightly,” said Richard Teng, chief executive officer of Binance’s Singapore entity. “I am grateful to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for its ongoing assistance to Binance Asia Services and we look forward to future opportunities to work together.”
Binance Asia has taken into account “strategic, commercial and developmental considerations globally” in its decision to withdraw its Singapore application, the company said.
The MAS said applicants were able to withdraw their applications should they see fit, upon which, those operating under exemption will be required to cease providing regulated payment services. Binance Asia had provided a plan for the cessation of payment services, allowing customers time to seek alternative providers or, if they wished, to liquidate holdings, a spokesperson said.
Founded in China in 2017, Binance Holdings Ltd. hasn’t set up a global base yet. Instead, Zhao has incorporated firms in locations where Binance operates.
Zhao, who holds Canadian citizenship and has been based in Singapore for the past two years, has given mixed signals on where he might base his firm, saying places in Europe and the Middle East offered pro-crypto alternatives along with Singapore.
The 44-year-old said last month he’d bought his first-ever home in Dubai to show a commitment to the jurisdiction he described as “very pro-crypto,” along with France. Binance has also revived plans to register in the U.K., Zhao told The Telegraph.
On Twitter on Monday, Zhao pointed to Binance Asia’s investment earlier this month in a regional private securities exchange called Hg Exchange, which gave it an 18% stake. HGX has a license to trade shares in private companies as well as tokenized assets including rare whiskey.
“This investment made our own application somewhat redundant,” Zhao said. “We will continue to work through our partners to grow the crypto industry in Singapore.”
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