Singapore, the first Asian nation to legalize Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, will begin accepting the virtual currency in early to mid-2018, according to the government.
The Singapore Financial Services Commission (SGFC) said in a press release on Monday that Bitcoin was not yet approved by the SGFC and that the government would work with the Bitcoin Foundation to finalize the status of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
“The Government of Singapore has announced that Bitcoin is not approved by SGFC,” SGFC said.
“SGFC will work with Bitcoin Foundation and the Bitcoin ecosystem to finalise the status and regulatory framework of Bitcoin in Singapore.”
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that uses peer-to-peer technology to facilitate transactions.
Its price has surged since the government of China banned the currency in 2016, and its value has since fallen.
The announcement comes amid the global financial crisis and is a sign that Singapore may be getting ready to accept cryptocurrencies, according an opinion piece published by the Financial Times on Tuesday.
In the piece, author Lee Chang-yong, an associate professor of finance at the Singapore Management University (SMU), writes that “the country has been slow to embrace the emerging world and its digital technologies, which could be attractive for the financial services sector, especially in areas where it competes with established incumbents.”
Singapore is already home to many cryptocurrency companies, including the world’s largest digital currency exchange, Coinbase.
The country also has a digital currency and financial services regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), that regulates virtual currencies and blockchain startups.
In February, the Singapore Government began allowing cryptocurrency exchanges, but only after it raised a $20 million loan from China’s state-owned China Tencent.
Last month, the government also said it will issue licenses to more than 50 companies to create digital currency-based services.