Singaporean regulators have suspended crypto exchange Bitget after it promoted a cryptocurrency to K-pop fans using unlicensed images of South Korean boyband BTS, reports the Financial Times.
Bitget held the same exemption from the Money Authority of Singapore (MAS) that allows Binance and Coinbase to service institutional clients.
It removed its endorsement of Bitget in July. However, the exchange continued to offer its services there (including the sale of Army Coin) into November.
Bitget, a Juventus shirt sponsor, continues to operate in many other territories including the US, Europe, and Canada.
Army Coin — named after the 40 million-strong group of BTS fans — purported to offer financial freedom for the band’s supporters when it listed on Bitget on October 27.
According to a Bitget Facebook advert, Army Coin promised to “take care of BTS members for life, so they do not have to worry about surviving.”
Instead, the unknown creators of the crypto appeared to be leveraging the band’s star power to flog their crypto.
The band was recently revealed as the most-streamed act in Singapore, according to annual tallies from streaming service Spotify.
BTS management warn fans
Despite the lofty claims, the project had no official links to the band. BTS’ management Big Hit Music threatened the exchange with legal action shortly after Army Coin launched.
The management group issued a statement insisting there was “no connection” between BTS and Army Coin.
“We are currently reviewing legal violations, including the infringing of an artist’s portrait right, without consulting with the company, and we will take all legal action against infringements and violations.”
“Currently, it has been confirmed that the coin is recruiting traders by spreading false information that the coin is ‘made for BTS’ and ‘exists to maximalize BTS profits.'” (Our emphasis).
“If you have suffered financial damage, please report it immediately to an investigation agency or reporting agency, such as the nearest police station.”
Despite falling out of favor with MAS, users in Singapore could still access Bitget services in late November.
The exchange also falsely claimed it was approved by the regulator.
In response to BTS’ management, Bitget refused to remove Army Coin. The exchange said that as it wasn’t the creator of the crypto it wouldn’t be taking any responsibility.
“We will keep a close eye on the events related to Army Coin,” Bitget said (via Straits Times).
Army Coin reportedly experienced a 5,000% jump in price following its listing on Bitget. It has continued to be just as volatile.
According to FT analysis, Army Coin’s price moved between $1,000 and $78,000 in just a matter of minutes.
It has since been listed on Coin Tiger, a crypto exchange that also caters to the Singaporean market.
Singapore loves crypto
Singapore has traditionally been fairly crypto-friendly. A survey earlier this year revealed that out of 1,000 Singaporeans, 43% held crypto and 46% were planning to purchase some in the next year.
The sample size is far too small, but it’s worth noting the comparison with similar studies elsewhere.
In the US, 6% of people said they own crypto and 7% reported the same in China.
The city-state’s pro-crypto attitude has proved attractive to crypto businesses. Crypto exchanges Bybit and KuCoin have headquarters there and Binance maintains a presence on the island.
Last month Huobi closed the accounts of traders based in Singapore ahead of a new exchange established within the country and regulated by MAS.
“With crypto-based activities, it is basically an investment in a prospective future, the shape of which is not clear at this point,” said Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS.
“But to not get into this game I think risks Singapore being left behind. Getting early into that game means we can have a head start, and better understand its potential benefits as well as its risks,” he said (via Bloomberg).
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