Here are the countries that decided to ban crypto in the last year

Last week, the Sindh High Court in Pakistan held a hearing on the legal status of digital currencies that could lead to an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading combined with sanctions against crypto exchanges. A few days later, the Central Bank of Russia called for a ban on crypto trading and mining operations. Both countries could join the growing ranks of nations that have moved to ban digital assets, which already include China, Turkey, Iran and several other jurisdictions.

According to a report by the Library of Congress (LOC), nine jurisdictions currently have an outright crypto ban and 42 an implied ban. The report’s authors point to a worrying trend: the number of countries banning crypto has more than doubled since 2018. Here are the countries that banned certain cryptocurrency-related activities or announced plans to do so in 2021 and early 2022 .

Bolivia

The Bolivian Central Bank (BCB) issued its first crypto ban resolution at the end of 2020, but it was not until January 13, 2022 that the ban was lifted. formally ratified. The wording of the most recent ban specifically targets “private initiatives related to the use and marketing of […] crypto-assets.

The regulator justified this decision on investor protection considerations. He warned against “the potential risks of generating economic losses for the […] holders” and stressed the need to protect Bolivians against fraud and scams.

China

Cryptocurrency transactions have been officially banned in the People’s Republic of China since 2019, but it was last year that the government took action to seriously crack down on crypto activity. Several official warnings about the risks associated with investing in crypto were followed by a ban on cryptocurrency mining and prohibited banks in the country from facilitating any dealings with digital assets. But the crucial statement came out on September 24, when a chorus of top state regulators pledged to jointly enforce a ban on all crypto transactions and mining.

Besides common notions of money laundering and investor protection, Chinese officials have played the environmental card in their fight against mining, which is a bold move for a country that contributes up to 26 % of global carbon dioxide emissions, of which crypto-extraction represents a marginal share.

Indonesia

On November 11, 2021, the National Ulema Council of Indonesia (MUI), the largest Islamic academic body in the country, proclaimed cryptocurrencies to be haram or prohibited on religious grounds. MUI instructions are not legally binding and as such will not necessarily stop all cryptocurrency exchanges. However, this could deal a serious blow to the crypto scene of the largest Muslim country in the world and affect future government policies.

The determination of the MUI reflects a common understanding that has formed in all jurisdictions influenced by the Islamic legal tradition. He views crypto activity as gambling – a concept that could arguably be used to define almost any capitalist activity.

On January 20, the religious anti-crypto push was reinforced by several other Islamic non-governmental organizations in Indonesia, the Council of Tarjih and the Central Executive Tajdid of Muhammadiyah. They confirmed the haram status of cryptocurrencies by issuing a fatwa (a ruling under Islamic law) that emphasizes the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies and their lack of ability to serve as a medium of exchange according to Islamic legal norms.

Nepal

On September 9, 2021, the Central Bank of Nepal (Nepal Rastra Bank, NRB) Published a notice with a headline “Cryptocurrency transactions are illegal”. The regulator, referring to the National Foreign Exchange Act 2019, declared cryptocurrency trading, mining and “encouraging illegal activities” as punishable by law. NRB separately pointed out that individual users should also be held accountable for crypto trading-related violations.

A statement by Ramu Paudel, executive director of the NRB’s foreign exchange management department, highlighted the threat of “scam” to the general population.

Nigeria

A U-turn in Nigeria’s national policy on digital assets was cemented on February 12, 2021, when Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission announced the suspension of all proposed crypto regulations, following a ban on the central bank introduced a week earlier. The country’s central bank has ordered commercial banks to close all crypto-related accounts and warned of penalties for non-compliance.

CBN’s explanation for such a crackdown lists a number of familiar concerns such as price volatility and the potential for money laundering and terrorist financing. Meanwhile, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the central bank is still interested in digital currencies and the government is exploring various policy scenarios.

Turkey

On April 20, 2021, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) fell 5% after Turkey’s central bank said “cryptocurrencies and other such digital assets” could not be legally used to pay for goods. and services.

According to the explanation, the use of cryptocurrencies could “cause non-recoverable losses for the parties to the transactions”. […] and include elements that could undermine confidence in the methods and instruments currently used for payments”. But that was just the beginning – what followed was a series of arrests of crypto fraud suspects, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally declaring war on crypto.

Related: Turkish and Salvadoran Presidents Meet, Bitcoiners Disappointed

In December 2021, Erdoğan announced that national cryptocurrency regulations had already been drafted and would soon be presented to parliament. In a suspenseful twist, the president noted that the legislation was crafted with input from cryptocurrency industry players. The exact nature of the regulatory framework remains unknown.

Russia

In a January 20, 2022 report for public discussion, the Central Bank of Russia proposed a complete ban on over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading, centralized and peer-to-peer crypto exchanges, as well as a ban on crypto mining. The regulator has also put forward the idea of ​​imposing penalties for violations of these rules.

In the rationale portion of the report, CBR compared crypto assets to Ponzi schemes and listed concerns such as volatility and funding illegal activities, as well as undermining “the Russian Federation’s environmental agenda.” But perhaps the most relevant of the justifications was concern over the potential threat to Russia’s “financial sovereignty.”

How bad is all this?

It’s hard not to notice that many of the countries on this list represent some of the fastest growing crypto markets: China needs no introduction; Nigeria was the largest source of Bitcoin transaction volume in Africa; Indonesia was on Binance’s radar as an expansion target; and Turkey has seen growing interest in Bitcoin amid the lira’s freefall.

When crypto awareness and adoption reach such levels, it is hardly possible to ban the technology whose benefits are already known to the general public. It’s also worth mentioning that in many cases, messaging from authorities regarding crypto has been ambiguous, with officials publicly expressing interest in the potential of digital assets before and even after the ban.

Caroline Malcolm, head of international policy at blockchain data firm Chainalysis, told Cointelegraph that it’s important to be clear that “only a few cases are actually completely prohibited.” Malcolm added that in many cases, government authorities have restricted the use of crypto for payments, but it is permitted for trading or investment purposes.

Why are governments asking for crypto bans?

The motivations of regulators to prohibit some or all types of crypto operations can be driven by various considerations, but some recurring patterns are visible.

Kay Khemani, managing director of Spectre.ai’s trading platform, pointed to the degree of political scrutiny within countries seeking to establish crypto bans. Khemani commented:

The nations that engage in outright bans are usually those where the state has a tighter grip on society and the economy. If larger, top-tier economies start to embrace and weave decentralized assets into their financial framework, it’s more likely than not that countries that previously banned cryptos might take a look.

The primary state concern, often hidden behind stated concerns for the financial security of the general public, is the pressure digital currencies are putting on sovereign fiat currencies and future central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), particularly in fragile economies. As Sebastian Markowsky, Chief Strategy Officer at Bitcoin ATM provider Coinsource, told Cointelegraph:

A general trend suggests that countries with less stable fiat currency tend to have high crypto adoption rates, and therefore end up with crypto bans, as governments want to keep people invested in fiat currency. […] In China, the large-scale rollout of digital yuan CBDC is said to be the real reason behind the crypto ban.

Caroline Malcolm added that the drivers of governments’ crypto policies can change over time, and so it’s important not to assume that the positions these countries take today will remain unchanged forever.

The hope is that at least in some of the cases discussed above, strict limiting measures against digital assets will ultimately prove to be a pause regulators have taken to create a framework for nuanced and thoughtful regulation.

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