Published on 03 Jul 2021

Commentary: Will Bitcoin become mainstream currency in Singapore one day?

In this commentary, Assoc Prof Hannah Yee-Fen Lim and Prof Boh Wai Fong say despite the increased use and popularity of Bitcoin in Singapore, it has several characteristics that make it unsuitable for use as a transactional currency.

We see increasing interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as the price of Bitcoin rallied and crashed, showing an almost ten-fold increase in price over a one-year period. 

Bitcoin is to date the highest valued or most expensive cryptocurrency in the world having grown by 276 per cent in the last year alone, well ahead of others such as Ether used on the Ethereum network.

It peaked in April this year before crashing to almost half its value in June. Singapore investors, too, are keeping a sharp eye on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, with traditional institutions such as banks starting blockchain funds to give their high-net-worth investors the opportunity to invest in cryptocurrencies. 

We even see traditional businesses like Kopitiam in Funan announcing that they will be accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. As of January, there were eight Bitcoin ATMs in Singapore, and about 51 businesses listed as accepting cryptocurrencies for payment, according to Statista. 


Bitcoin, however, has several characteristics that make it unsuitable for use as a transactional currency. 

The volatility of Bitcoin suggests that both consumers and merchants bear exchange-rate risk, which arises from the need to change fiat currency to Bitcoin. 

For instance, in 2010 we saw the first ever commercial transaction using Bitcoin to purchase a pair of pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins – what is said to equate to about US$40 then would cost almost US$400 million today. 

The inefficiency of blockchain with transactions taking hours, even days, to be confirmed, and the use of proof of work in Bitcoin mining also results in excessive electricity use, leading to sustainability issues.


So, it is unlikely that Bitcoin will see widespread adoption locally as a currency for transactions, although other forms of virtual currencies or stable coins with values pegged to certain fiat currencies may see wider adoption as a currency for transactions. 

Further, there are limited regulatory protections for the customers of cryptocurrencies, which mean that unlike e-money stored in an EZ-Link card or in a bank account, should the company become insolvent, the customers of cryptocurrencies may well lose the entire amount. Source: Channel News Asia