You don’t have permission to view this page. Please include your IP address in your email. As the market capitalization of the cryptocurrency market shoots up, through price movements and a surge in new tokens, regulators around the world are stepping up bitcoin mining legal debate on oversight into the use and trading of digital assets.
This affects all cryptocurrencies, but especially bitcoin, given its market leadership and integration into the global startup ecosystem. Very few countries have gone as far as to declare bitcoin illegal. Japan has gone as far as to give bitcoin that designation. Other jurisdictions are still mulling what steps to take. The approaches vary: some smaller nations such as Zimbabwe have few qualms about making brash pronouncements casting doubts on bitcoin’s legality.
A related question in other countries, to which there is not yet a clear answer, is: should central banks keep an eye cryptocurrencies, or financial regulators? In some countries they are one and the same thing, but in most developed nations, they are separate institutions with distinct remits. Another divisive issue is: should bitcoin be regulated on a national or international basis? Below is a brief summary of pronouncements made by certain countries. In October 2017, the Australian Senate began debating a bill that would apply anti-money laundering statutes to the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as mandate criminal charges for exchanges that operate without a license.
That same month, the tax authorities removed the “double taxation” of bitcoin, which was a result of a decision in 2014 to treat the cryptocurrency as a “bartered good” rather than a currency or asset. As of the end of 2017, cryptocurrency exchanges have to register with the country’s financial intelligence agency Austrac, and comply with customer verification and record preservation requirements. Further moves are unlikely for now, however, as officials from the central bank recently said that regulation is not needed for the use of cryptocurrencies as payment. In spite of a strong bitcoin ecosystem, Argentina has not yet drawn up regulations for the cryptocurrency, although the central bank has issued official warnings of the risks involved. In 2015, Bangladesh expressly declared that using cryptocurrencies was a “punishable offence.
In 2014, the central bank of Bolivia officially banned the use of any currency or tokens not issued by the government. Canada was one of the first countries to draw up what could be considered “bitcoin legislation,” with the passage of Bill C-31 in 2014, which designated “virtual currency businesses” as “money service businesses,” compelling them to comply with anti-money laundering and know-your-client requirements. The government has specified that bitcoin is not legal tender, and the country’s tax authority has deemed bitcoin transactions taxable, depending on the type of activity. OKCoin, Huobi, BTC China, and ViaBTC, suspended order book trading of digital assets against the yuan in 2017.
In 2014, the National Assembly of Ecuador banned bitcoin and decentralized digital currencies while establishing guidelines for the creation of a new, state-run currency. In January 2018, the Grand Mufti of Egypt declared that cryptocurrency trading was forbidden under Islamic religious law due to the risk associated with the activity. While this is not legally binding, it does count as a high-level legal opinion. The European Union is taking a cautious approach to cryptocurrency regulation, with several initiatives underway to involve sector participants in the drafting of supportive rules. The focus appears to be on learning before regulating, while boosting innovation and taking into account the needs of the ecosystem. The G20 – comprised of the world’s 20 largest economies – recently turned its attention to cryptocurrencies in general, and committed to drafting recommendations on the first steps towards regulation by July 2018.
The Indian central bank has issued a couple of official warnings on bitcoin, and at the end of 2017 the country’s finance minister clarified in an interview that bitcoin is not legal tender. In April 2018, Iran’s central bank and one of its principal market regulators said that financial businesses should not deal in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Recently the Financial Servivces Agency has been cracking down on exchanges, suspending two and mandating improved security measures in five others. It has also established a cryptocurrency exchange industry study group which aims to examine institutional issues regarding bitcoin and other assets. According to reports, the National Bank of Kazakhstan recently hinted at plans to ban cryptocurrency trading and mining, although as yet no strict regulations have been passed.
The central bank of Kyrgyzstan declared in 2014 that using cyrptocurrencies for transactions was against the law. Malaysia’s Securities Commission is working together with the country’s central bank on a cryptocurrency regulation framework. In 2014, Mexico’s central bank issued a statement blocking banks from dealing in virtual currencies. At the end of 2017, Mexico’s national legislature approved a bill that would bring local bitcoin exchanges under the oversight of the central bank. Towards the end of 2017, Morocco’s foreign exchange authority declared that the use of cryptocurrencies within the country violated foreign exchange regulations and would be met with penalties. Namibia is one of the few countries to have expressly declared that purchases with bitcoin are “illegal.
While Nigerian banks are prohibited from handling virtual currencies, the central bank is working on a white paper which will draft its official stance on use of cryptocurrencies as a payment method. In April 2018, Pakistan’s central bank issued a statement barring financial companies in the country from working with cryptocurrency firms. Draft cryptocurrency legislation from the State Duma’s financial regulator is expected in mid-2018. The focus appears to be on protecting citizens from scams, while allowing individuals and businesses to work legally with cryptocurrencies.