As bitcoin payment service CoinPip works with 37 Coins to make digital payments easier for everyone in Singapore, the question comes up: how exactly is Bitcoin maintaining itself in the world’s most business-friendly economy?
One sign of increasing Bitcoin acceptance around the world is the presence of the Bitcoin ATM. So far, Singapore has 8 Bitcoin ATMs installed throughout the city-state, including the island’s first cash-out cable ATM in late March. The machine, found in the restaurant Bartini Kitchen and made by Robocoin, also allows users to purchase Bitcoin, create a paper wallet, and send bitcoins to your existing wallet. David Moskowitz of Singapore broker Coin Republic said of the machine:
“I know a lot of enthusiasts have been looking for a convenient way to sell their Bitcoin for local currency. This machine allows you to get your cash quickly using a very familiar ATM interface.”
So after stopping by one of Singapore’s ATMs and figuring out your wallet, perhaps it’s time to do a little shopping. Concrete numbers are hard to come by, but anywhere from 16 to 33 physical retailers exist in Singapore that accept Bitcoin. These include anything from cafés and restaurants to computer appliance and photography stores.
What does the government say about all of this? In recent months the Money Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been juggling ideas about how to regulate the currency. In March the MAS revealed legislation that require virtual currency intermediaries buying, selling or dealing in virtual currencies to verify the identities of their customers, to prevent money-laundering and financial support of terrorism. The intermediaries are also to report suspicious activities to the MAS.
The regulations don’t come off as too harsh to Moskowitz, who offers the idea that technology can quash a lot of the MAS’ fears. He cites European technology companies that look to operate the crypto-currency in a similar way to how central banks handle their country’s currency. Singaporean businesses will also be taxed on their Bitcoin sales. As far as individual taxes go, they will only be taxed if the bitcoin is exchanged for real monies, goods or services.
What does the future hold for Bitcoin in Singapore? Some would say job creation. CoinPip is a Singapore based company with a 0.55 percent processing fee. Merchants in CoinPip get their transactions immediately credited and deposited in Singaporian dollars, avoiding any risk of volatility. The company has already expanded to Hong Kong.
ItBit is another Singapore-based global Bitcoin exchange with 12 employees worldwide, five in the Singapore headquarters. The company has raised over $3 million in funding. Another startup is the four person Ripple Singapore. The company lets users trade gold and silver bullion into the crypto-currency Ripple, which allows users to exchange or send rights to redeem valuable items conveniently. Singapore-based Silver Bullion handles the company’s hard assets.
CoinPip CEO Anson Zeall has stated he signed a contract with a physical POS provider that includes Bitcoin along with other payment methods like a credit card. He hopes to pilot the service to over 700 merchants in Singapore. Despite Bitcoin not being used on a massive scale in the country as of yet, such business ventures and widespread education of the crypto-currency leaves enthusiasts optimistic.