Singapore High Court declares cryptocurrency as property in Bybit case.

Singapore High Court declares cryptocurrency as property in Bybit case.

The Recognition of Crypto as Property by Singapore’s High Court

In a significant ruling, Singapore’s High Court has officially recognized cryptocurrency as a property that can be held on trust. The case involved Bybit, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Seychelles, and a contractor named Ho Kai Xin. Bybit accused Ho of breaching her employment contract by abusing her position to transfer over 4.2 million USDT (a stablecoin issued by Tether) to addresses under her control and ownership. Ho also moved a portion of fiat currency to her personal bank account.

Judge Philip Jeyaretnam, who presided over the case, stated that USDT, like any other thing in action, is capable of being held on trust. He referenced a public consultation response published by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which emphasized the practical possibility of identifying and segregating digital assets. This supports the notion that digital assets can indeed be held on trust.

Moreover, Judge Jeyaretnam acknowledged that holders of crypto assets possess an incorporeal right of property, which is recognized by common law as a “thing in action” and enforceable in court. Although he acknowledged the potential circularity in this conclusion, he drew parallels with the way the law treats other social constructs such as money. He eloquently explained that the value of objects, including traditional currencies, is not inherent but rather derived from the acceptance and recognition by people. “It is only because people generally accept the exchange value of shells or beads or differently printed paper notes that they become currency,” he stated.

While some individuals remain skeptical about the value of crypto assets, it is essential to remember that value is not intrinsic to objects. This ruling highlights the evolving nature of property rights and the recognition of digital assets within legal frameworks.

Bybit sought a declaration from the court that Ho held both the USDT and fiat currency on trust for the exchange. Ho, in her defense, blamed her cousin, Jason Teo, alleging that he stole the assets without her knowledge and that only he had access and control over those addresses. However, the judge accepted, based on a balance of probabilities, that Jason Teo did not exist or did not play the role claimed by Ho. Consequently, the judge ordered Ho to transfer the assets back to Bybit.

This ruling marks an important milestone in the blockchain industry. It provides clarity and legal recognition to the status of cryptocurrencies as property and confirms that they can be subject to trust arrangements. It strengthens the foundation for further development and adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets.


Singapore’s High Court’s recognition of cryptocurrency as property held on trust is a significant development for the blockchain industry. The ruling reflects the evolving nature of property rights in the digital era and the increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies within legal frameworks. By affirming that cryptocurrencies can be held on trust, the court has provided clarity and a solid legal foundation for the future growth and adoption of blockchain technology. With this decision, Singapore further solidifies its position as a global leader in embracing the potential of blockchain and digital assets.

Note: CoinDesk is a cryptocurrency news platform.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.

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