Q&A: Anson Zeall, chairman of ACCESS Singapore

Q: What is the mission and objective of ACCESS and how many members you have right now?

ACCESS envisions Singapore as a premier global hub for businesses driven by digital currencies and blockchain technologies. ACCESS believes in the transformative potential of bitcoin along with other cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology called blockchain. With responsible use and proper regulatory support, we see digital currency applications and distributed ledgers benefiting everyone.

ACCESS members represent a spectrum of businesses within the Singapore blockchain and cryptocurrency space, including exchanges, merchant transaction services, vending machines suppliers and miners, and abide by a Code of Conduct that is in line with our mission statement. ACCESS has grown its membership from 7 companies since its establishment in 2014 to over 400 companies today.

Q: Your role as a connector between the market and the regulator? You seemed to have earned the backing of MAS and Association of Banks.

ACCESS aims to foster an open and clear dialogue between Singapore cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses and larger society, including regulators and banks. In doing so, we aim to provide a united public voice and platform for the Singapore cryptocurrency and blockchain community, allowing all of us to better engage with private as well as governmental entities.

Q: What exactly you are trying to achieve as an industry body especially with the Code of Practice you issued?

The Code of Practice aims to be an industry standard to ensure that crypto-firms have put in place sufficiently robust AML and CFT measures while taking into account their risk assessments. Along with the accompanying practice guide, it provides practical regulatory guidance to new types of payments activities such as e-wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges. Through this initiative, we hope to point both global and local digital payment service providers in the right direction to successfully obtain their operating licenses and expand their presence in Singapore. Ultimately, we would like to drive a more robust digital economy and promote confidence in the use of e-payments.

Q: How successful you have been in creating a blockchain hub in SG? Any examples and figures would be helpful?

As the chair of IDAXA and ACCESS, our members combined have a total crypto asset market cap of more than a quarter trillion dollars, which underscores the need for a unified approach by our industry and the importance of building trust in our rapidly growing industry with regulators. To that end, we have engaged in regulatory dialogue with MAS for several years prior to the issuance of the Payment Services Act. The Code of Practice is one of our committed deliverables for stakeholder engagement to help shape the regulatory dialogue around the launch and implementation of the Payment Services Act. When the Payment Services Act was released, the legislation attracted other regulated crypto firms to set up licensed operations here, which helps foster a vibrant blockchain ecosystem in Singapore.

Q: Blockchain is seen as full of hype even though everyone including the regulators are quite keen on seeing it develop?

As the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry continues to grow, ACCESS is committed to the responsible use and proportionality-risk based regulations in fostering the healthy development of our industry.

Q: Do you have real use cases that are being developed, especially in Singapore?

Yes, one example by the Singapore government is https://www.mas.gov.sg/schemes-and-initiatives/project-ubin

Q; Finally, how the Covid 19 is either helping or hindering that vision for blockchain in Singapore and around the world?

COVID-19 has accelerated the remote work culture that are more native to blockchain communities. In that sense, the virtual meetings prevalent in remote work culture is enabling more ideation to happen at scale, creating more cross-industry collaboration between blockchain and other industries in bringing blockchain technology to mainstream adoption.

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