Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the newly elected President of Singapore, secured his position with an impressive 70.4% of the vote. While this role is largely ceremonial, his extensive financial background, including his tenure as Singapore’s finance minister and central bank chairman, suggests he may wield some influence over policies concerning the future of finance, including cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
Shanmugaratnam’s stance on cryptocurrencies has been notably cautious, as he has described them as “purely speculative” and even “slightly crazy.” This perspective comes at a time when Singapore is grappling with how to strike the right regulatory balance in the crypto space, especially following the collapse of local crypto ventures Terraform Labs and Three Arrows Capital during his leadership at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
His career trajectory reflects a deep involvement in finance and economics. He began as an economist at MAS in 1982 and later received degrees from prestigious institutions like the London School of Economics, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Additionally, he was short-listed for the top position at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at one point.
Interestingly, Shanmugaratnam’s early stance on cryptocurrencies was relatively hands-off. In 2018, he expressed the view that cryptocurrencies and related trading activities posed no significant threat to Singapore’s financial system, suggesting that there was no need for prohibitive regulations.
As Singapore navigates the evolving landscape of digital finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s presidency could play a role in shaping the nation’s approach to emerging financial technologies, making his term one to watch for insights into the regulatory future of cryptocurrencies and CBDCs in the region.