News - Singapore court compares crypto to cash

By Ted Maas

Singapore court compares crypto to cash

Crypto acceptance
Laws and regulations

A Singapore court has come to an important decision. According to the court, cryptocurrencies are as much property as money.

Governments and companies around the world are arguing over how cryptocurrencies should be legally classified. Judge Philip Jeyaretnam of Singapore's Supreme Court came to an interesting decision on July 25. The judge sees no legal difference between cryptocurrencies, fiat money, and oddly enough, shells. Ultimately, you can classify all three things as "possessions" as long as they have value or people attach value to them, regardless of whether they are physical or digital. So he does not share the caveat of some cryptocritics that cryptocurrencies have no value. After all, the issue of value is a social construct based on people's perceptions.

The background to the ruling is a case the crypto exchange ByBit had filed against one of its former employees, Ho Kai Xin. She allegedly stole USDT worth US$4.2 million from the exchange. Unsurprisingly, Ho Kai Xin has to pay back the stablecoins. However, the legal interpretation of ownership is decisive here. Especially since Judge Jeyaretnam also places cryptocurrencies in the category of "things in action," as interpreted by British law. "Things in action" are, according to the British court: The bundle of personal rights over property that can only be claimed or enforced by legal action, and not by taking physical possession, for example, a cash balance at a bank or money due on a bond. Translation: The bundle of personal rights to property that can only be claimed or enforced by legal action and not by physical possession, for example, a cash balance at a bank or money owed on a bond.

The Singapore ruling not only helps to further consolidate the legitimate status of cryptocurrencies, but also serves as a basis for decision-making in further proceedings.

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