Bitcoin users beware: MAS

Bitcoin users beware: MAS

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is cautioning consumers against bitcoin trading even as a few merchants in Singapore have started accepting the digital currency as payment for physical goods.

Invented in 2009, bitcoin is the world's most well-known digital currency. It is not issued or managed by a single company or monetary authority.

Bitcoins can be bought through online exchanges that convert real money into the virtual currency. Due to its anonymous nature, bitcoin trading was declared illegal in Thailand in July over money laundering concerns.

On Singapore's sole bitcoin exchange FYB-SG, more than $440,000 worth of bitcoins have been transacted since it started operating in January this year. One bitcoin was sold for about $167.83 on Thursday.

An MAS spokesman told The Straits Times that consumers should be wary of such trading.

"If bitcoin ceases to operate, there may not be an identifiable party responsible for refunding their monies or for them to seek recourse," the spokesman said.

Like other virtual currencies, such as game credits and airline miles, MAS does not regulate bitcoin trading.

MAS' warning comes even as a handful of merchants here, such as cafes, have started to accept bitcoins for goods like beer and coffee.

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