The Monetary Authority of Singapore has suspended the operation of crypto exchange Bitget, according to a report by the Financial Times. The suspension order was reportedly issued over the minting and trading of Army Coin, named after the faithful fanbase of South Korean boy band BTS, officially known as BTS Army.
After Psy, it appears no other Korean musician or band has transcended borders and made waves in the international music scene as BTS has. An acronym for Bangtang Boys, which translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts, BTS is a seven-member South Korean boy band that has made history since its debut in 2013.
From singing in Times Square to scoring a Guinness World Record for most Twitter engagements for a music group, and from bagging two Grammy Award nominations to landing multiple top hits in the U.S. Billboard 200 charts, BTS’ success has won hearts across the globe.
The band has nearly 42 million followers on Twitter and over 53 million followers on Instagram. To understand what that means in terms of U.S. celebrities, here’s a comparison — BTS has almost as many Twitter followers as Britney Spears and more Instagram followers than Chris Hemsworth.
So when Singapore-based Bitget, a sponsor of the Italian football team Juventas, advertised Army Coin and tried to bank on the band’s growing fame, it turned many heads. In its Facebook ad, Bitget described the cryptocurrency as existing for the “benefit of BTS.” It added: “Army Coin aims to take care of BTS Members for life, so they do not have to worry about surviving but instead let them do what they desire to do.”
The advertisement for Army Coin was posted on social media on Oct. 25 and the coin was scheduled to start trading on Bitget on Oct. 27. After listing, Army coin’s price surged from a mere 6 cents to a high of US$7.80.
However, on Oct. 28, HYBE, the agency managing BTS, issued a statement saying that BTS is “completely unrelated to this cryptocurrency, and it is being issued with no discussion whatsoever with our company. The portraiture of BTS used to promote this coin was used with no permission or agreement with BIGHIT MUSIC.”
While the creators of the coin are unknown, the HYBE statement said they were examining the specific law violations of the issuers, including the use of BTS member images to promote the coin. The statement also asked anyone who might have been financially affected by the coin to contact legal authorities.
Founded in 2018, Bitget claims to have over 1.5 million registered users and a valuation of US$1 billion. Before the FT report, the firm’s website claimed that it had licenses from four countries — the U.S., Canada, Australia and Singapore. However, after the FT report, the website has removed the claim that it is licensed by MAS on its website.
The exchange has also been blocked for Singaporean users. The original website where the coin was first announced, which claimed that 50% of the Army Coin will be donated to a BTS wallet for band members, has also gone underground and now says the website is “under renewal.”
The token itself, however, is still available for trading on CoinTiger, another Singaporean crypto exchange that listed Army Coin last month, although it is no longer available on Bitget. As of press time, Army Coin was trading on CoinTiger at US$0.075 with a 24-hour trading volume of barely over US$230,000, according to CoinGecko data.
Bitget and the MAS could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The latest Army Coin development points toward the huge difficulty lawmakers face when reigning in the crypto market. Fan tokens like Army Coin are created frequently and the tales of their deaths are equally sudden — a number of rug pulls, like the one witnessed with the Squid Game token, have left investors weary.
But it’s not all bad news for crypto exchanges in Singapore. Today, Crypto.com announced that it has earned a Data Protection Trust Mark from the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
According to the press release, Crypto.com was audited for data privacy and cybersecurity controls. The firm was awarded the certification after it was found that it upheld the four principles of Governance and Transparency, Management of Personal Data, Care of Personal Data and Individual’s Rights, as outlined by the Singapore government for companies to protect customer data. IMDA has issued less than 70 DPTMs and Crypto.com has become the first fintech firm to achieve it.