2018

Last updated: December 2018

No Legal Advice or Attorney-Client Relationship: This chart is provided by Perkins Coie LLP’s Blockchain Technology & Digital Currency industry group for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Recipient should not act upon this information without seeking advice from a lawyer licensed in his/her own state or country. 

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Country

Current Summary

Developments Over Time

   

Date

Occurrence

Abu Dhabi Issuers and intermediaries of virtual currencies and “security” tokens may be subject to regulation—depending upon the nature of the product and service. 10.09.2017 The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi issued guidance on the regulation of initial coin/token offerings (ICO) and digital currency as supplemental guidance to the existing 2015 Financial Services and Markets Regulations (FSMR). The guidance was directed at both issuers and intermediaries. FSRA indicated that it will determine if a token issued in an ICO would be regulated as a security on a case-by-case basis. A token deemed a security (Security Token) would be subject to regulation under the FSMR. Additionally, any market intermediaries dealing in Security Tokens and/or their derivatives will need to be licensed and approved by FSRA as Financial Services Permission holders, Recognised [sic] Investment Exchanges, or Recognised [sic] Clearing Houses. The Guidance also makes clear that, while spot trading of virtual currencies is not regulated under FSMR, derivatives are regulated as a type of Specified Investment under the FSMR. Consequently, any market intermediaries or market operators dealing in derivatives of virtual currencies will be subject to regulation under FSMR. Source.
Argentina

Virtual currencies are not legal tender under the country’s National Constitution, which designates the Central Bank as the only authority that may issue legal tender.

11.02.2017 Argentina’s largest futures trading market, the Mercado de Termino de Rosario (Rofex) has been considering offering services to investors in digital currencies and plans to make an announcement by the end of 2017. Preliminary drafts for the services include offering custody services for Bitcoin and the ability for clients to use Bitcoin as collateral in futures trading. Source.
07.10.2014 The Unidad de Información Financiera (UIF) issued a resolution requiring a wide range of financial institutions as well as profit and non-profit entities to report all transactions with virtual currencies on a monthly basis. Source no longer available.
05.29.2014 The Central Bank of Argentina issued a statement about the risks involved in the use of virtual currency, including volatility and fraud, and confirmed that it is not legal tender. Source no longer available.
Austria*
*EU Member

Austria regulates financial services involving virtual currencies.

 

02.23.2018 The Austrian Finance Ministry is considering regulation for ICOs and cryptocurrencies based on existing trading rules for gold and derivatives. The current goals of the proposed legislation are curbing money laundering, combat terrorist financing, and subject trading platforms to the oversight and rules that exist for financial instruments, according to Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger. Source.
11.14.2016

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) of Austria issued a warning advising the country’s consumers to exercise utmost caution in relation to virtual currencies, particularly when related to business and investment models based on virtual currencies. Further, the FMA explicitly advised consumers that such offerings are not subject to any form of regulation, and in particular are not subject to supervision by the FMA. Source.

06.01.2016

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) of Austria issued guidance on the regulation of alternative currencies and bonus points. When such products represent financial services, a license issued by the Financial Market Authority (FMA) is required. Products providing a means of payment may require a banking license and may be regulated as issuance of E-money. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

07.25.2014

Austrian ministers appear to have given conflicting guidance on the tax treatment of Bitcoin during a parliamentary Q&A session. The finance minister reportedly stated that Bitcoin is not a financial instrument, and that capital gains tax would apply to bitcoin holdings sold within a year of purchase, while the minister for science, research and economy reportedly referred to German policy recognizing bitcoin as a unit of account. Source no longer available.

Australia

Digital currency exchanges will be subject to registration and regulation in mid-2018, once amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 take effect.

Digital currency transactions are no longer subject to goods and services taxes (GST) but remain subject to incomes and capital gains taxes.

 

09.07.2018 The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its corporate plan for 2018-2022. In the report ASIC detailed a new framework that included oversight of cryptocurrency exchanges and token sales. Cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia are already required to comply with new anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing rules under AUSTRAC, the country’s financial intelligence agency. The framework emphasizes greater cross-departmental collaboration on cryptocurrency issues and will apply regulatory principles to cryptocurrency exchanges that are similar to those that apply to conventional forms of market infrastructure. Source.
03.26.2018 The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released a “community consultation” in which it called for public feedback on the issue of taxing cryptocurrencies to better understand the practical issues faced by taxpayers and to inform the government’s approach to how it treats specific tax events. Source.
12.07.2017

On December 7, 2017 the Australian Parliament passed amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006. Among other rules, the law as amended requires digital currency exchanges to: identify and verify their customers’ identities; monitor and report large or suspicious transactions to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC); register on the Digital Currency Exchange Register maintained by AUSTRAC; create a management protocol to identify, reduce, and manage money laundering and terrorism-financing risks; and keep certain records for seven years of transactions and customer IDs. The amendments will become effective 6 months following assent by the Governor-General. Source.

12.08.2017 The Australian Taxation Office updated its guidance on GST and digital currency to address tokens and ICOs. In particular, the guidance states that tokens that provide a right or entitlement to goods and services are not digital currency and may be subject to GST. Source.
10.18.2017 Australia approved legislation introduced on September 14 to remove the double taxation on digital currency, which is in-line with the 2017-18 budget released earlier this year. The new legislation will ensure that consumers who use digital currency will no longer pay goods and services tax (GST) on purchases of digital currency. Source.
08.07.2017 Australian senators from both major political parties announced that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) should formally recognize bitcoin and other digital currencies as official forms of currency. This pressure from parliament follows the Tax Office’s decision to stop treating digital currency as intangible property subject to goods and services tax, which effectively double taxes digital currency transactions. This change was revealed in the May 2017 release of the 2017-18 budget and took effect on July 1. This policy change and the recent pressure from parliament represent Australia’s move to embrace digital currencies as “normal” currency. Source.
03.20.2017 Australia’s securities and investments regulator, ASIC, released guidance on the use of distributed ledger technology (including blockchain) in financial services and financial markets. The guidance includes a framework to help the assessment of whether technology and risk management standards required by the regulator will be met. Primary Source. Secondary Source. Tertiary Source.
04.01.2016

The Australian Attorney-General’s Department issued a Consultation Document stating that the government wants to begin drafting legislative proposals to regulate digital currencies by the middle of 2017. The goal is to begin finalizing that legislation in 2018. To that end the government solicited public comment on the proposal that looks to include digital money in the laws against money laundering. Source.

03.30.2015

The Australian Department of Treasury issued a white paper listing crypto-currencies, such as bitcoin, as a challenge in determining how to appropriately tax companies and could provide a company with the ability to relocate profits to minimize their taxes. Source.

08.20.2014

The Australia Taxation Office issued guidance on the tax treatment for Bitcoin. The ATO concluded that Bitcoin is neither money nor a foreign currency, but is an asset for capital gains tax purposes. However, capital gain or loss from using bitcoin to purchase goods or services for personal use or consumption will be disregarded, provided that cost of the bitcoin is $10,000 or less. Source.

06.09.2014

Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens stated that, while virtual currencies pose regulatory questions, he believes that investors who are prepared to accept the risk in speculating in virtual currency should be allowed to do so. Source.

06.24.2013

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) confirms Bitcoin transactions are subject to goods and services (GST) and income tax and says that speculators should keep records for capital gains taxes and that bitcoin is expected to be means of electronic payment or money. Source.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh Bank issued a warning against conducting transactions in cryptocurrency, and reportedly stated that such use is punishable by up to 12 years in jail

09.15.2014

Bangladesh Bank issued a warning against conducting transactions in cryptocurrency, and reportedly stated that such use is punishable by up to 12 years in jail. Source.

Belarus

Cryptocurrency activities have been legal in Belarus since March 28, 2018, including exchange services, ICOs, mining operations, and smart contracts. The country has a special economic zone, the Belarusian High Technologies Park (HTP), with a special tax and legal regime that has fostered blockchain innovation.

 

03.28.2018

On March 28, 2018, a decree signed in December 2017 by President Lukashenko legalizing cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and smart contracts came into effect. Additionally, exchanges can trade rubles for cryptocurrencies. Source.

03.24.2018 The Belarus Ministry of Finance introduced accounting standards for cryptocurrencies, which categorizes different digital assets (including tokens and mined cryptocurrencies) and advises as to how they should be reported and how they will be taxed. Source.

Belgium*
*EU Member

The National Bank of Belgium has warned investors and the public of the dangers of virtual currencies and declared that they are not legal tender, and the Minister of Justice has announced his intention to impose strict regulations on virtual currency activities.

06.16.2017

The National Bank of Belgium issued a report on the threat of digital currencies to monetary policy—concluding that “any threats to monetary stability caused by digital currencies issued by private players are rather limited at this point.” Source.

04.15.2017 Koen Geens, the Minister of Justice of Belgium, has announced his intention to subject virtual currency to the same strict regulation as currently applies to the ordinary financial sector. This marks the first such statement by the Belgium government. Source.
09.22.2014

Federal Public Service Finance reportedly issued a statement that bitcoin trading transactions are not subject to VAT, however, its position is subject to change pending the position taken by the European Committee. Source no longer available.

01.14.2014

National Bank of Belgium (NBB) and Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) warned investors that virtual currencies are not issued by a central bank; there is no current regulation; risks associated with security, hacking, and fraud; value fluctuates; exchange rate is variable; and they are not legal tender. Source.

01.08.2014

NBB does not have plans for financial regulations to regulate Bitcoin (not an official position, but expressed in a meeting between the bank and industry reps). National Bank likely to issue warnings similar to those issued by the EBA and other European nations. Source no longer available.

09.11.2013

Minister of Finance Koen Geens commented that Belgian National Bank does not object to Bitcoin, which was being used by only a handful of traders at this time, and that there was no indication that Bitcoin was being used for money laundering. Source no longer available. 

Bermuda Government intends to begin regulating virtual currencies and ICOs in 2018. In November 2017, the government formed a Legal and Regulatory Working Group including officials from the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, the Ministry of Finance, and members of the private banking sector. 04.2018 The Bermuda Monetary Authority released proposed regulation for initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other virtual currency activities on April 13. The proposed legislation addresses ICOs in detail, which would require potential issuers of ICOs to apply for consent to operate from the Minister of Finance. An application for consent would require the disclosure of information including corporate information of the entity planning the ICO, development and implementation plans for any product, service, or other project related to the ICO, amount intended to be raised through the ICO, timeline for the completion of the ICO, information related to the storage of identifying information of purchasers, and compliance and auditing protocols for token purchases. Source
03.19.2018 Bermuda’s Premier and Minister of Finance, David Burt, said in a statement before parliament’s House of Assembly that his government intends to take a “measured” approach to regulating ICOs, the FinTech industry, and cryptocurrencies generally. He gave an overview of proposed ICO legislation, which would be in the form of amendments to the existing Companies Act of 1981 and the Limited Liability Company Act of 2016. The proposed bill would classify ICOs as “restricted business activities” and would require issuers of coins/tokens to obtain consent from the minister of finance before proceeding with a token sale. The application would require a token issuer to disclosure certain company information and information about the digital asset being issued including what rights are conferred on the purchaser of a token. Source.
11.22.2017

The Government of Bermuda announced it will begin to regulate virtual currency exchanges, coins and securitized tokens, in early 2018. The new regulation would include the activities of firms, operating in or from Bermuda, that use distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to store or transmit value. Source.

Bolivia
Virtual currency has been explicitly banned. 05.06.2014

The Central Bank of Bolivia banned any currency or coins not issued or regulated by the government, including a list of virtual currencies. The Bank’s resolution states that citizens are prohibited from denominating prices in any currency that is not previously approved by its national institutions. Source.

Brazil

The Central Bank of Brazil has not yet regulated virtual currencies, but has issued the now-standard warnings about their use.

01.22.2018 Brazil’s Securities Exchange Commission , Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (CVM) has determined that digital currency Niobium Coin (NBC) is not a financial asset. The CVM classified the coins as utility tokens, and therefore not subject to CVM regulatory oversight. This decision could set an important precedent in Brazil and create opportunities for coin issuers seeking to launch their ICOs in Brazil. The CVM has stated that virtual currencies are to be considered securities only when they pay interest or dividends to their investors, or when they allow for participation in company management through votes. Source.
11.19.2015

Brazil’s House of Representatives held a public hearing to discuss a bill that would give the country’s central bank oversight of digital currency activity in the country. Source.

04.07.2014

Brazilian tax authority requires reporting of bitcoin holdings and payment of capital gains taxes for holders of bitcoin over certain value thresholds. Source.

 02.19.2014

Central Bank of Brazil says that virtual currencies are not “electronic currency” under Brazilian law. It warned that virtual currencies are not guaranteed or issued by a central authority, are not guaranteed by real assets, may be subject to volatility and total loss of value, can be used in illegal activities, and may be insecure due to the possibility of hacking. Finally, the Bank said that it was following the evolution of virtual currencies, and would consider adopting measures. Source no longer available. 

10.09.2013

Brazil adopted Law No. 12,865, which specifically referenced regulation of electronic currency. While the definition of “electronic currency” appeared to cover virtual currency, the Central Bank of Brazil later distinguished electronic currency from virtual currency. Source no longer available.

Bulgaria
*EU Member

Personal income from the sale or exchange of bitcoin is taxable, and will be treated as income from sale of financial assets. 

04.02.2014

The Bulgarian Revenue Agency determined that income from the sale of bitcoin will be treated as income from sale of financial assets. Source no longer available.

Cambodia Activities related to cryptocurrencies appear to require a license from relevant government authorities. 06.19.2018 The National Bank of Cambodia, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia and the General-Commissariat of National Police in Cambodia released a joint statement stating that the propagation, circulation, buying, selling, trading and settlement of “Crypto Currencies” without obtaining a license from “competent authorities” is illegal. Source.

Canada

Canadian lawmakers seem to be taking a lighter approach to regulating virtual currencies, with a ‘regulate-and-embrace’ policy, focusing primarily on anti-money laundering concerns. Virtual currencies are not legal tender in Canada. As of 2014, however, the Canadian anti-money laundering legislation has been amended to classify persons “dealing in virtual currencies” as “money services businesses” subjecting those businesses to Canada’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime. The effective date of these amendments has not yet been announced. Regulations from the Department of Finance are currently being drafted that are expected to further specify the types of business subject to the anti-money laundering regime. No federal law exists in Canada for the regulation of certain financial transactions, including securities. Each province passes its own binding laws, although there are some federal entities that serve in research and/or advisory capacities.

06.11.2018 The CSA released a staff notice that addressed the question of when an offering of tokens may or may not involve an offering of securities, following a prior staff notice that addressed how securities law may apply to virtual currency offerings (CSA Staff Notice 46-307, August 24, 2017). Staff Notice 46-308 provided an illustrative list of situations where tokens implicate securities law concerns under Canadian law. Source.
 12.08.2017 The Superior Court of Quebec sentenced Dominic Lacroix to two months in prison and levied a fine of $110,000 CD for running virtual currency scam PlexCoin. Source.
11.2017 The Bank of Canada has issued a discussion paper addressing whether a central bank should issue digital currency (CBDC) that could be used by the general public. Noting potential risks and benefits, the bank made several conclusions, including: Increasing contestability in retail payments is the most credible motivation to issue CBDC; Complete anonymity is undesirable because it could foster criminal activity; and Banks considering issuance of a digital currency should proceed cautiously and incrementally. Source.
11.02.2017 The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has granted regulatory relief to Toronto-based Funder, Inc. to allow Ontario’s first regulated ICO/ITO. Specifically, Funder has been exempted from registering as a dealer, allowing it to carry out its ICO/ITO under existing exemptions in securities law. Source.
09.06.2017 The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) approved Canada’s first registered cryptocurrency investment fund, and acknowledged in a statement that it views cryptocurrency investments as a new and novel” way to invest. The newly-registered Vancouver firm, First Block Capital Inc. will operate its fund in Ontario and British Columbia. Source.
05.25.2017 The Bank of Canada stated that its experiment with blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, showed it is currently not compatible with operating the country's centralized interbank payment systems. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
02.23.2017 The Canadian Securities Administration (CSA) launched a regulatory sandbox for businesses launching new financial products, services and applications. The objects of this new initiative is to support an encourage innovation, according to the CSA Chair and President and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers. Source.
08.18.2016 The central bank of Canada published a new working paper suggesting its researchers believe digital currency exchange rates will become less volatile should adoption increase. Source.
11.13.2015

The central Bank of Canada’s Senior Deputy Governor, Carolyn Wilkins, expressed the need for radical change in the approach regarding traditional finance and emerging technology at a speech at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Concerning disruptive technologies such as distributed ledgers and bitcoin, Wilkins said “[w]e have to envisage a world in which people mostly use e-money, perhaps even one that’s not denominated in the national currency, like Bitcoin.” Source.

06.19.2015

The Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce released a report calling for limited regulatory control over digital currencies. Source.

02.12.2015

Canadian province of Quebec clarifies provincial legislation to specify that virtual currency ATMs and online virtual currency trading platforms in Quebec must obtain licenses under the provincial Money-Services Business Act to operate in the province. Source.

08.2014

The Canadian central bank released a working paper examining the effects of competition between different cryptocurrencies and the exchanges. The authors conclude that there is no clear evidence that Bitcoin will keep its dominant position in the market, and that exchanges will be able to coexist and possibly compete on fees. Source.

03.28.2014

The Canadian parliament passed a bill amending its money laundering and terrorist financing act. The act now applies to persons in Canada engaged in the business of dealing in virtual currencies, as well as persons outside of Canada that provide such services to customers in Canada. Source no longer available.

02.14.2014

The Canadian Federal Budget included a reference to intended legislation regarding anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing that would apply to virtual currencies. Source.

05.20.2013

Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FinTRAC) reportedly wrote to several prominent Bitcoin exchanges that they are exempt from Canadian money laundering laws. Source.

04.26.2013

Canada Revenue Agency says barter transaction rules apply to use of Bitcoin for goods or services and are subject to tax. Also, Bitcoin bought or sold as a commodity is subject to capital gains taxes. Source.

China

Financial institutions and third-party payment providers are banned from accepting, using, or selling virtual currencies. Although its use remains legal, the People’s Bank of China has required exchanges to register with the appropriate regulatory authorities and has suggested it will closely watch the markets. The People’s Bank of China has allegedly warned banks from working with virtual currency-related businesses. As of September 2017, ICOs are banned in China.

08.24.2018 Chinese regulators issued a warning against illegally raising funds through crypo token sales and trading tokens. The warning targets celebrity endorsements of token sales, overseas offerings into China, airdrops, and market manipulation. Source.
08.17.2018 The China National Fintech Risk Rectification Office identified 124 overseas virtual currency exchanges that are accessible within the country and plans to block access to these platforms within the country. The Office will also permanently disable access to domestic websites and accounts on WeChat (a text messaging app) that provide virtual currency trading and token sale services Additionally, Beijing’s Chaoyang district government issued a notice that bans hotels, office buildings, and shopping malls from hosting events that involve “talks and promotion” or virtual currencies and tokens. Source.
06.28.2018 The Internet Court of Hangzhou ruled a form of blockchain data to be admissible as evidence in the context of a copyright infringement case. Source.
03.29.2018 The Chinese Institute of International Finance, under the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), released a report indicating that the central bank will institute a regulatory crackdown on all types of virtual currencies in 2018. Source.
09.04.2017

China has banned all companies and individuals from raising funds through ICO activities, reiterating that ICOs are considered illegal activity in the country. Several entities including the People’s Bank of China (PBC), the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, issued a joint statement announcing the ban. Source.

08.05.2017

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced its plans to increase supervision and regulation of China’s financial services industry, including large online financial businesses in its risk assessment system, the Macro Prudential Assessment (MPA). These business include P2P lenders, third-party online payment platforms, crowdfunding companies, and other financial services. In July, 45 Chinese financial firms agreed to join a payment-clearing platform called Wanglian, which will allow the PBOC to more closely monitor online payments. An internal PBOC memo indicated that all companies should join the platform by the end of June 2018. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

11.09.2016

China’s central bank issued a recruitment ad (in Mandarin) published by the bank on Nov. 9 in connection with hiring blockchain experts to help it develop its own digital currency, Based on the information that has been released by the Central Bank, under this digital currency project the Central Bank would still retain control over the country’s money supply. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

01.21.2016

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is conducting a digital currency study and is reportedly considering issuing its own digital currency. Source.

04.25.2014

Reports from a meeting with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) indicate that PBOC has warned banks to cease doing business with virtual-currency-related businesses. Source.

12.17.2013
12.18.2013

In wake of 12.5.13 PBOC statement, BTC China no longer accepts yuan. PBOC extends ban on accepting, using, or selling bitcoin to third party payment providers. Bitcoin remains legal, however, for individuals to use but without providers, is effectively impossible. Source.

12.05.2013

PBOC says that bitcoin is not currency, that financial institutions and payment institutions cannot be involved in bitcoin-related transactions, websites exchanges that deal in bitcoin-related services need to register with appropriate regulatory agencies, PBOC will pay close attention to potential uses of bitcoin for money laundering, and PBOC will educate the public about the risks of using, trading, or dealing in bitcoin (specifically, the lack of a central authority that administers or provides redress). Source.

Colombia

Colombia’s financial regulatory body (SFC) has prohibited banks from working with virtual currency. The SFC and the Central Bank have also indicated that bitcoin is not a currency.

04.01.2014

In a press release, the Colombian Central Bank indicates that bitcoin is not a currency, and cannot be used in connection with Colombia’s exchange rate regime. Source.

03.26.2014

Colombia’s financial regulatory body issued a resolution prohibiting financial institutions from holding virtual currency. The release also discussed a number of risks associated with virtual currency. Source.

Croatia*
*EU Member

Informal statements by the Croatian National Bank are favorable regarding the legality of bitcoin.

12.16.2013

The Croatian National Bank indicated in an informal discussion that the use and sale of virtual currency would not be unlawful in Croatia. Source.

Cyprus*
*EU Member

Virtual currencies are not illegal in Cyprus, but Central Bank has warned about their use.

02.25.2014

Central Bank acknowledged that virtual currencies are not illegal, but reiterated earlier warnings about their use and exchange. Source.

02.07.2014

Central Bank issues warnings like those of the EBA and Bank of France that virtual currencies have no guarantee of reimbursement, are inherently speculative, pose money laundering and other criminal activity risks, and are risky speculative investment vehicles. Source.

Czech Republic*
*EU Member

Czech Ministry of Finance has indicated that virtual currency transactions are subject to anti-money-laundering laws and reporting requirements.

09.16.2013

A guidance note from the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic’s Financial Analytical Unit indicates that purchase and sale of virtual currencies in excess of 1,000 euros is subject to suspicious activities reporting under the Czech Republic’s anti-money-laundering laws. Source.

Denmark*
*EU Member

Financial Supervisory Authority has issued warnings about the risks of virtual currencies, similar to other European nations, and has suggested there may be amendments to regulations regarding virtual currencies. Currently, it does not appear that virtual currencies are regulated, at least under money laundering or financial institution regulations.

03.25.2014

The Danish Assessment Board (Skatterådet) gave its ruling on March 25, 2014 in the case of SKM2014.226.SR (published on April 1, 2014).

The board ruled that bitcoins are not considered an official currency for tax and VAT purposes, as bitcoin is not a currency that:

  • Is regulated by the operators on the global currency markets
  • Is subject to regulation by a central bank
  • Can be withdrawn from circulation
  • Is affiliated to a state or currency area

Furthermore, fluctuation in the value of bitcoins is not taxable as gains or losses on currency covered by the Tax Act on Capital Gains and Losses on Debt and Claims. This conclusion is based on the description of the bitcoin system according to which purchase and ownership of bitcoins does not involve a debtor or creditor and, thus, neither a claim nor debt exists for tax purposes. Source.

03.18.2014

On March 18, 2014, the Danish Central Bank issued a statement declaring that Bitcoin is not a currency. The Bank went on to explain, “Bitcoin does not have any real trading value compared to gold and silver, and thus is more similar to glass beads. The Danish Central Bank went on to point out that Bitcoins are not protected by any national laws or guarantees, such as a deposit guarantee. Source no longer available.

12.18.2013

Chief Legal Advisor to FSA says that most likely development will be to amend existing financial regulations to cover exchanges and to have money laundering regulations cover cryptocurrency transactions. A member of Parliament suggested, however, that this would be done on a European-wide basis, not just in Denmark. Source.

12.17.2013

Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) releases statement re: risks for cryptocurrencies: (1) losing money to exchanges, (2) theft from virtual wallets, (3) might not be able to exchange it for fiat currency, (4) rapid price fluctuation, (5) links to criminal activity and (6) taxes. FSA also provides that cryptocurrencies are not covered by existing regulatory framework for electronic money, currency exchanges, brokerages, or deposit services. They are unregulated electronic money and there is no permission needed to run an exchange there. Source.

Ecuador

Ecuador has banned issuance, promotion, or circulation of virtual currencies, and plans to issue its own digital currency for use as legal tender.

05.26.2015

Ecuador has mandated that all banks and “entities of the public, private, and cooperative financial sectors” must accept the country’s digital currency within the next 360 days. Ecuador’s official fiat currency is the U.S. dollar, and the digital currency under Ecuador’s Electronic Currency System will be “equivalent and convertible to US dollars.” Primary Source. Secondary Source. 

08.11.2014

Congress reportedly approved legislation to issue a digital currency for use alongside the U.S. dollar, which is currently the only legal tender in Ecuador. A monetary authority will be established to regulate the digital currency, which will be backed by liquid assets. Source.

07.23.2014

Ecuador’s Congress reportedly approved extensive reforms to its financial system providing for, among other things, the creation of a digital currency and financial regulation system controlled by the executive. In connection therewith, it reportedly also banned the issuance, promotion or circulation of all digital currencies. Source no longer available.

Estonia*
*EU Member

Informal cautions regarding use of bitcoin in response to email inquiries; bitcoin income is treated as capital gains. 11.06.2017

Estonia agreed to coordinate with fellow Baltic and EU-Member countries Latvia and Lithuania to develop capital markets in the Baltic region, which was memorialized between the ministries of the three countries in a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement set forth the goals of stimulating investment, creating jobs, supporting economic and social convergence to help absorb economic shocks, all of which will be achieved in part by facilitating cross-border investments and dismantling burdensome investment barriers. Source.

08.23.2017

Estonia proposed the launch of its own state-managed cryptocurrency, “estcoin,” which would be launched using an ICO. Estonia has been quick to embrace digital innovation, and was the first country to offer a digital ID to non-Estonians that offers access to banking and other services. However, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been highly critical of Estonia’s plan and indicated that it would not allow any member state to launch its own digital currency. Source.

04.11.2016

Estonian Supreme Court Rules Against Bitcoin Trader. The Supreme Court decided to apply extra regulation to Bitcoin trading, including the requirement to meet customers in person as well as the requirement keep IDs of all customers and report those who trade more than 1,000 Euros more per month.. This ruling not only applies to Bitcoin, it applies to all blockchain tokens and assets. Source.

11.30.2015

The Estonian Supreme Court asked various government agencies and officials, including the Ministry of Finance, the Interior Ministry, the Estonian Central Bank and the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority, to answer questions regarding the government’s stance on the legality of bitcoin as it considers arguments in a 2014 case filed by the operator of a bitcoin trading company, BTC.ee. Although the response was due by January 11, 2016, as of March 21, 2016 the Court has yet to publish its findings. Source.

03.2014

The Estonian Tax Authority stated that income derived from Bitcoin transactions constitutes capital gain subject to taxation. Source no longer available.

01.31.2014

Head of the Estonian central bank payment and settlement system expresses concerns in an email about risks associated with bitcoin, including the nature of the decentralized system and the potential for a Ponzi scheme. Source.

EU

European Banking Authority issued warnings to the public about the risks associated with virtual currencies, and recently indicated it will apply anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing rules to virtual currencies.

Member States:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
09.07.2017 The European Central Bank (ECB) President Draghi has rejected Estonia’s plans to launch its own state-run digital currency, “estcoin,” and indicated that the ECB would not allow Estonia or any other EU member state to introduce its own currency. The basis for the criticism is the ECB’s position that cryptocurrencies in general could erode the bank’s control of the supply of money. Source.
02.02.2016

EU ministers met in December following the terrorist attacks on Paris and agreed to tighten checks on payment methods used by terrorist organizations. The European Commission is currently conducting a risk assessment on terrorist financing and money laundering, paying particular attention to virtual currencies. Documents recently released indicate the Commission will propose stricter rules involving virtual currencies and prepaid cards by June 2016. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

11.01.2015

European Court of Justice ruled that the value-added tax (VAT) will not apply to purchases of bitcoin through exchanges. This ruling flows from a VAT provision for excepts related to currency, bank notes and legal tender. Source.

10.01.2014

Europol issued an internet organized crime threat assessment, which examines the various technologies and services used by cybercrime organizations. The assessment includes a discussion of the use of virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, in laundering the proceeds of cybercrimes. Source.

07.28.2014

The European Commission indicated that it will impose anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing rules on virtual currencies. Source no longer available.

07.22.2014

Sweden reportedly asked the European Union to provide definitive rules on the VAT treatment of cryptocurrencies, expressing concern over the inconsistencies in approach among member states. Source.

12.12.2013

European Banking Authority (EBA) warns consumers on virtual currencies because (1) consumers can lose value, (2) can be stolen from virtual wallets, (3) EU refund rights do not protect, (4) value can change quickly, (5) can be used for criminal activity, including money laundering, and (6) consumers may be subject to tax liability. Source.

10.29.2012

The European Central Bank releases a detailed report regarding virtual currency and its potential for regulation under EU regimes. Source.

Financial Action Task Force

N/A

10.19.2018 The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published the outcomes of its Plenary meeting. Included in the outcomes of the meeting were new recommendations related to the regulation of virtual currency (the 2018 Virtual Currency Recommendations). In addition to the 2018 Virtual Currency Recommendations, FATF announced that it will be publishing rules for international cryptocurrency regulation in June 2019 to encourage countries to “take coordinated action to prevent the use of virtual assets for crime and terrorism.” While the future guidance is in development, FATF recommends that all jurisdictions should “urgently take legal and practical steps to prevent the misuse of virtual assets,” to include applying risk-based Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations to virtual asset service providers and risk-based monitoring and supervision of these entities. Virtual asset service providers, according to the 2018 Virtual Currency Recommendations, include crypto-crypto and crypto-fiat exchanges, the transfer on behalf of a person of a virtual asset from one virtual asset address or account to another, the safekeeping or administration of virtual assets, and the participation in and provision of financial services related to the offer and sale of a virtual asset. Source.
06.2014 FATF issued a report defining key terms associated with virtual currencies and describing the AML and terrorist financing risks associated with them. The report also provides examples of key law enforcement actions involving virtual currency. Source.

Finland*
*EU Member

Based on informal interviews, the best indication is that virtual currencies are treated as commodities in Finland. 11.22.2017

Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) issued a warning that initial coin/token offerings (ICOs/ITOs) and cryptocurrencies are risky and highly speculative investments. The FSA warned consumers of the volatile price of bitcoin and other digital currencies citing the European Banking Authority (EBA)’s 2013 publication on the risks of cryptocurrencies. Noting growing interest in ICO/ITOs, the FSA listed several risks associated with token sales, including fraud, loss of capital, price volatility, inadequate information, and technology risks. The FSA also cautioned potential ICO/ITO issuers to be aware of existing regulatory requirements. Source.

11.19.2014

The Finnish Central Board of Taxes judged Bitcoin to be a financial service in ruling 034/2014, making Bitcoin exempt under the EU VAT directive. Source.

01.19.2014

Bank of Finland says, through interview with head of oversight Paeivi Heikkinene, that Bitcoin is not “currency” or a “payment instrument,” but is “more comparable to a commodity.” Source.

08.28.2013

The Finnish Tax Authority released tax interpretations regarding bitcoin, indicating that capital gains treatment would be given to an exchange of bitcoin for another currency, but that losses would not be deductible. Source.

09.12.2012

In television interview, Finnish Central Bank says that bitcoins are legal and can be invested in and used however people would like. There are no guarantees, however, that unregulated virtual currencies can be exchanged back into traditional money. Source.

France*
*EU Member

Bank of France has issued warnings similar to other European nations. There were informal indications that France might have been willing to allow virtual currency companies to operate as payment service providers under French law, and France has now indicated it will implement customer identity verification rules for virtual currency platforms.

11.14.2018 French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that the country will tax corporate entities 30% on cryptocurrency gains beginning in 2019. In a speech delivered at the annual conference of France’s financial markets regulator, Le Maire said that the tax will be imposed only when exchanging cryptocurrency to Euros; like-kind exchanges of cryptocurrency would not trigger the tax. The tax changes will also include a tax-free personal exemption of €305 ($345) and a shift from monthly to annual reporting requirements. Source.
09.24.2018 The French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertes - CNIL) released guidance for applying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to blockchain technologies. In light of the issues it raises, CNIL’s report is likely to be the first of many studies, interpretations and analyses of the applicability of the GDPR to the blockchain. French Source.
04.26.2018 The French Council of State announced that it has changed the tax rate of cryptocurrency sales from 45 to 19 percent because of a reclassification of cryptocurrencies, which will now be considered movable property. The exception to this classification are coins earned directly from mining operations, which will be taxed as income. Source
03.19.2018 In an opinion piece, France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire indicated that the country is planning to launch a legal framework for ICOs, and that an action plan would be proposed to the French government in March or April. The proposal would give French market regulator Autorité des archés financiers (AMF) the ability to grant authorization to companies to issue coins/tokens in ICO/token sales, provided the companies meet certain criteria focused on investor protection. Primary Source. Secondary Source. Tertiary Source.
 01.16.2018  The French minister of the economy announced the creation of a working group charged with drafting proposed cryptocurrency regulations. Former deputy governor of France’s central bank, Jean-Pierre Landau, will head the group. Among the goals of the working group are establishing more control over the development of new financial products related to cryptocurrencies, and to prevent the use of cryptocurrencies in tax evasion, money laundering, and the funding of terrorism and other criminal activity. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
12.08.2017

France has passed new laws to allow banks and fintech companies to create platforms where unlisted securities can be traded instantly. France’s Finance Minister released a statement saying that this will allow for the development of new trading platforms and transactions that are faster, cheaper, more transparent, and safe. Securities listed on exchanges will still need to pass through custodians and clearing houses. Source.

12.15.2016

France’s Central Bank (The Banque de France) issued a press release indicating that it has tested the blockchain technology for hypothetical use in the management of SEPA Credit Identifiers, or identification markers used to establish the identity of creditors within the Single Euro payments Area. Source.

07.23.2014

The French Senate released a report focusing on the type of regulation the government should apply on bitcoin transactions. and refers to Bitcoin as a type of virtual bartering tool, and calls cryptocurrencies a “long-term trend raising important legal and economic matters, that can no longer be disregarded by public authorities”. Source.

07.11.2014

The finance ministry reportedly announced that it plans to implement customer identity verification rules for bitcoin distributors and other platforms by the end of the year. It also reportedly implemented tax rules classifying bitcoins as property subject to capital gains and asset taxes. Source.

07.07.2014

Police reportedly shut down a bitcoin exchange operating illegally in France, seizing 388 bitcoins in the process. The site’s operators are reportedly being examined on potential charges of illegal banking, money laundering and operating an illegal gambling website. Source.

06.23.2014

The senate committee on finance heard testimony on the issues raised by the development of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The committee concluded that the rise of virtual currencies is a long-term trend that can no longer be disregarded by public authorities. It further noted that despite its risks, bitcoin offers multiple opportunities for the future and that public authorities should work on a balanced regulatory framework. Source.

04.25.2014

The French Ministry of Economy stated that revenue from sales of virtual currency is taxable income. The French Banking Federation indicates that wiring revenue from the sale of virtual currency to a personal bank account may require the bank to file a declaration with the French anti-money-laundering agency. Source.

12.05.2013

Bank of France warns about risks associated with virtual currencies: (1) security risks, (2) absence of central regulatory authority, (3) speculation and huge volatility, (4) legal risk, and (5) use of currencies for illegal and illicit activities. Source.

G20

 

Member:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Mexico
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • UK
  • USA
  • EU

 

12.01.2018 A joint declaration was signed by G20 member nations at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Among other things, the declaration addressed the topic of the digital economy and virtual currency. First, the declaration acknowledged the risks posed by emerging digital technologies, including virtual currencies, related to money laundering and terrorist financing. All G20 nations agreed that virtual currencies should be regulated pursuant to standards promulgated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an independent inter-governmental body that develops policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing, and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Source.
07.16.2018 The Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a report addressed to the G20 on the work of the FSB and standard-setting bodies with respect to crypto-assets. The FSB noted that it did not believe crypto-assets pose a material risk to global financial stability at this time and recognized the need for vigilant monitoring. In connection with the report, the FSB outlined a framework it created in collaboration with the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), to monitor the financial stability implications of developments in crypto-asset markets. Source.
03.19.2018

Following several G20 meetings held March 20-21, international economic leaders issued a statement (communiqué) seeking proposed cryptocurrency regulations by July 2018. The first G20 meetings began in December 2017 as precursors to the G20 Summit, scheduled to take place November 30 - December 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires. The communiqué suggested agreement among the members that cryptocurrencies need to be examined across the world, but it stopped short of calling for a regulatory crackdown. The members expressed a belief that the technological innovation underpinning cryptocurrencies is of great value to the worldwide financial system, but noted concerns about consumer and investor protection, risks of money laundering and funding terrorist activity, tax evasion, and volatility and stability of cryptocurrencies. The communiqué took the position that cryptocurrencies should more appropriately be considered assets, not currency, and regulation should flow from that position. Some countries, including Brazil and the UK, did not agree with that position, and asserted that cryptocurrencies would not be regulated according to such an approach. Source.

Germany
*EU Member

Virtual currencies are financial instruments under German law and, more specifically, are a form of “private money” that can be taxed as capital. Certain uses may also require a license or permit. Earlier guidance from the German financial supervisory authority also suggested virtual currencies are commodities, and are subject to taxation both upon sale of bitcoin and sale of goods in exchange for bitcoin. Germany has not adopted laws specific to ICOs, but ICOs are subject to certain existing regulation.

11.15.2017

Germany’s Federal Financial Authority (BaFin) released a statement warning consumers of the risks of initial coin offerings (ICOs). The authority considered ICO/ITOs a highly speculative form on investment not subject to currency market regulations. Source.

2017

The Austrian and German governments are funding a research effort focused on the use of digital currencies in organized crime.: “BitCrime”. The initiative, is split into two sub-projects: (1) the German sub-project, primarily supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and (2). the Austrian sub-project, backed primarily by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Institute of Technology, and the Federal Ministries of Finance and the Interior. Source.

09.20.2017

The Deutchebank Bundesbank expressed its skepticism about bitcoin and other digital currencies as “trustless” currencies, saying they are not ultimately feasible. Delivering a keynote speech at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), a member of the executive board of the Bundesbank indicated that virtual currencies are a fabrication, by virtue of how they are transferred peer-to-peer and based on the bank’s opinion that they have no intrinsic value. Source.

05.23.2014

The German Ministry of Finance has reportedly published a letter ruling that the commercial sale of bitcoin is a “miscellaneous service.” Retailers accepting bitcoin would be taxed on the sale of goods and upon selling any bitcoins they accept in purchases. Source.

12.19.2013

BaFin releases an overview of risks related to virtual currency, and indicates that commercial use of BTC may require licensure and permitting in certain circumstances. Source.

08.19.2013

German Finance Ministry says that virtual currency is not e-money or foreign currency but is still a financial instrument under German banking rules. Virtual currency is therefore more akin to “private money” that can be used in “multilateral clearing circles” (suggesting that virtual currency would be taxed as capital). Source.

12.22.2011

BaFin (German financial supervisory authority) says that Bitcoins are exempt from definition of e-money because they are not tied to legal tender currency. Instead, it is a commodity subject to taxation. Source.

Ghana

Ghana does not license digital currencies. The central bank has issued warnings to the public against transacting with digital currencies like Bitcoin. 01.22.2017

The Central Bank of Ghana (BOG) has issued a Notice to banks and the public warning against the use of digital currencies. The BOG stated that digital currencies are not licensed under the country’s Payments Systems Act of 2003 and encouraged the public to only conduct business with licensed institutions subject to the BOG’s oversight. The BOG recognized the evolving electronic payments environment and indicated that parliament would consider a revised Payments System Act in early 2018. Primary Source. Secondary source.

Gibraltar

 

N/A 10.12.2017

Gibraltar’s legislature published draft legislation, which incorporates distributed ledger technology (DLT) into its existing Financial Services Regulations. The new rules, which are planned to take effect in January 2018, are directed at firms offering blockchain services including cryptocurrency exchanges, but will cover any commercial use of DLT for storing or transmitting value. Under the new framework, a firm offering DLT services would need to apply for a working license, which would be granted provided it conforms to several regulatory standards, including protection of consumer assets, robust cybersecurity, and transparency. Source.

08.02.2017

The Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSE) announced its plan to “fully integrate” the use of blockchain into its operational processes. Details of the plan haven’t been unveiled yet, but the GSE indicated that it has partnered with fintech firm Cyberhub Fintech. Source.

Greece

The Bank of Greece has adopted the EBA warnings regarding virtual currencies.

02.11.2014

Bank of Greece adopted the EBA’s warnings to consumers regarding virtual currencies. Source.

Greenland

See Denmark, above; autonomous country but under Kingdom of Denmark

Hong Kong

Informal guidance suggests that regulatory authorities are monitoring virtual currencies, particularly with regard to money laundering. Virtual currency considered a virtual commodity and not legal tender. Hong Kong’s The Securities and Futures Commission has announced plans to regulate virtual asset portfolio managers, virtual asset fund distributors, along with a regulatory sandbox to study virtual assets. 

11.01.2018

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong released a statement announcing its plan to regulate virtual asset portfolio managers, virtual asset fund distributors, and a plan for a regulatory “sandbox” to allow the SFC to study platforms trading in virtual assets. The SFC noted that it does not perceive virtual assets as a risk to financial stability but that investing in virtual assets poses significant investor protection risks that the Commission seeks to address. Under the existing regulatory framework, the SFC only has jurisdiction to regulate virtual assets where they fall under the definition of a “security” or “futures contract.” Consequently, certain firms (i.e. virtual asset portfolio managers and virtual asset fund distributors) investing in virtual assets do not fall under the purview of SFC regulation. Going forward, the SFC intends for these firms to be licensed or registered with the SFC, regardless of whether the virtual assets are considered to be securities or futures contracts.

For virtual asset trading platforms, the SFC said that it will establish a regulatory “sandbox” in which platforms will not require licensure to operate. The SFC’s purpose for this framework is purely observational, to determine whether virtual asset trading platforms are appropriate for SFC regulation, based on whether the SFC believes it can effectively provide protection against risks to investors. After the exploratory phase, if the SFC determines that regulation is suitable, it would likely propose a licensing scheme with standards of conduct comparable to the standards for existing providers of automated trading services.

03.19.2018 Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has ordered the shutdown of an ICO by Black Cell Technology and directed the return of funds to investors who have purchased the tokens. The SFC was prompted to halt the operations over concerns that Black Cell had engaged in potentially unauthorized promotion of the ICO and unlicensed regulated activities. Source.
11.11.2016

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), in partnership with the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) published a white paper on distributed ledger tech. The paper presents blockchain as a tool that “carries enormous potential” depending on the kind of application but highlights that from the regulatory perspective, risks remain. Source.

03.25.2016

A senior Hong Kong official indicated, in response to a question submitted during a meeting of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, that the government does not see a need for legislation that would regulate or ban bitcoin activities. The statement indicated that bitcoins are not a legal tender, and their value is not backed by any physical items, issuers or the real economy. Source.

02.11.2015

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued a statement warning the public about the risks involved in virtual currency trading after a bitcoin exchange allegedly stole its clients’ funds. The statement also stated that Bitcoin is a virtual “commodity” and not legal tender. Source.

01.09.2014

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury says that there are high risks in exchanging, trading, and holding bitcoin; there are no physical currency guarantees; and its value is highly speculative. Also suggested that Hong Kong was monitoring the virtual currency market and was particularly concerned about money laundering. Source.

Hungary*
*EU Member

 

The National Bank of Hungary has issued warnings similar to those of other countries.

 

12.20.2016

The National Bank of Hungary (MNB) issued a public statement warning citizens who use or invest in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, citing their unregulated nature amid increasing instances of high-return investment schemes abusing the cryptocurrency. The warning also reminded users that there is no institution guaranteeing the execution of a transaction or the reimbursement of payment. Source.

02.19.2014

National Bank of Hungary warns about the use of virtual currencies, including that they are not issued or guaranteed by a central authority, the possibility of loss of value or theft, their volatility, and the inability to seek recourse or refund. Source no longer available.

Iceland

Regulates virtual currencies as electronic currency through the Icelandic Exchange Act, which effectively prohibits entities from engaging in the exchange of virtual currency.

12.19.2013

Icelandic Exchange Act applies to bitcoin exchanges, and bitcoin is not exempt as a good or service. Therefore, one cannot engage in foreign exchange that involves the electronic currency, bitcoin. Source.

India

 

A ban is currently in place under the directive of India’s central bank (RBI) for all financial institutions offering services to individuals or entities transacting with cryptocurrencies. 

Under the current banking Act, the Indian government does not consider cryptocurrencies to be legal tender and has made clear that it intends to eliminate the use of cryptocurrencies in payment systems within the country, especially where cryptocurrency is found to be financing illegal activities.

Further legislation is under consideration by a government committee tasked with drafting a regulatory framework.

 

07.03.2018 India’s Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ban on lenders dealing in cryptocurrencies. On April 6, the RBI issued a circular in which it decided that entities regulated by the RBI cannot deal in or provide services connected to virtual currencies (the Circular). The types of services mentioned in the Circular included maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans against “virtual tokens,” accepting virtual currencies as collateral, and opening accounts of exchanges dealing with virtual currencies. Any regulated entity already providing such services had to stop by July 5, 2018. Source.
06.18.2018 Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg announced during an interview with ET Now News that draft legislation regarding cryptocurrency may be forthcoming in the summer of 2018. Source.
04.05.2018 Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has ordered the shutdown of an ICO by Black Cell Technology and directed the return of funds to investors who have purchased the tokens. The SFC was prompted to halt the operations over concerns that Black Cell had engaged in potentially unauthorized promotion of the ICO and unlicensed regulated activities. Primary SourceSecondary Source.
11.16.2017

The Indian Supreme Court issued a notice to the central bank and several other agencies asking them to respond to a petition made to the court to regulate bitcoin. The petition called on the Court to make cryptocurrencies accountable to the exchequer, expressing concerns about the untraceablility of digital currency transactions. Source.

08.07.2017

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has established a 10-member advisory panel to examine on recent global fintech developments and report on opportunities for the Indian securities market. The goal of the new Committee on Financial and Regulatory Technologies is to help prepare India to adopt fintech solutions and foster innovations within the country. Source.

08.25.2015

The Reserve Bank of India's governor and two deputy governors made statements about bitcoin. He indicated that while the technologies have the potential to be disruptive they could also have undesirable consequences if left unchecked. He also acknowledged that the technology can assist financial inclusion, that Cryptocurrency can help alleviate transaction settlement concerns. Source.

12.24.2013

Reserve Bank of India issues warnings to customers who buy, sell or trade in virtual currencies about security risks, absence of regulatory authority, speculation and volatility, legal risk, and use of currencies for illegal activities. Also says it is “presently examining” issues associated with using, holding, and trading VCs, including regulations for foreign exchanges and payments systems laws. Source no longer available.

12.27.2013

India’s Enforcement Directorate raided the offices a virtual currency exchange, reportedly in response to violations of India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. Source.

Indonesia

Virtual currencies are not legal tender, and using virtual currencies violates the country’s information and electronic transaction laws and currency laws.

02.06.2014

Bank Indonesia issued a statement on virtual currencies stating that these are not considered to be currency or legal payment instruments in Indonesia and warned the public that the user/owner of bitcoins bears all risks related to their ownership/use. Source no longer available.

01.16.2014

Deputy Governor of Indonesian Central Bank says that using bitcoin violates information and electronic transaction laws and currency laws. DG also strongly urged Indonesians not to use bitcoin as a means of payment, and highlighted security risks of bitcoin too. Source.

International Standard-Setting Organizations

N/A

 

09.11.2018 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) against its plans to create a government-issued digital currency. RMI had solidified plans earlier this year for its digital currency to act as a second legal tender for the network of islands alongside the US dollar. RMI plans to avoid the anonymity of other digital currencies so as to make it suitable for a regulated banking system and plans to be distributed via an initial coin offering. The IMF issued a press release encouraging RMI to be cautious about issuing a decentralized digital currency and to consider the all the potential risks. The IMF also warned that RMI could be at risk of losing the last banking relationship with the US dollar. Source.
07.16.2018

As part of the Financial Stability board’s report to the G20, work by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the Bank of International Settlement’s (BIS) Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) was referenced.

CPMI collaborated with FSB on a framework for crypto-asset stability and continues to conduct work on applications of distributed ledger technology.

IOSCO established an ICO Consultation Network as part of a broader support framework to assist members in May 2018, following a public announcement regarding crypto-asset concerns in January 2018. IOSCO may explore whether IOSCO’s Principles for Secondary and Other Markets would be applicable to crypto-asset platforms.

The BCBS is conducting research into banks’ exposures to crypto-assets. Source.

04.16.2018

The IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde released an article entitled ‘an even-handed approach to crypt assets’. IMF staff members continue to write policy and research pieces with respect to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Source.

09.29.2017 At a conference held by the Bank of England, the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde spoke about how fintech will change central banking over the next generation, specifically virtual currencies, new models of financial intermediation, and artificial intelligence. Lagarde indicated that the IMF believes virtual currencies like bitcoin pose very little or no challenge to the existing order of central banks and fiat currency based on the position that the underlying technologies are not yet scalable, the currencies are unregulated, and several platforms trading or storing virtual currencies are subject to cybersecurity breaches. Regardless, Largarde cautioned not to dismiss virtual currencies and noted that many, especially developing, countries might see an increase in the use of virtual currencies, rather than adopting the fiat currency of another country, e.g. the U.S. dollar. Source.
Iran Iran intends to implement strict regulations for digital currencies. The country is also working on their own domestically-developed cryptocurrency.  07.31.2018 The Iranian Financial Tribune reported that it is likely that Iran will fully legalize digital currencies. According to the report, Abolhassan Firouzabadi, head of the High Council of Cyberspace, stated that cryptocurrencies will “probably” be legalized in Iran in the near future, “The final decision has not been made yet, but a working group in the Majlis Social Commission is studying it to establish online exchanges for virtual currencies, mining of virtual currencies and what currencies will be declared legal.” Source.
04.28.2018 On April 28, a government minister of Iran stated that the country has developed an experimental local cryptocurrency, which would not be affected by the country’s wider ban on cryptocurrencies. Iran’s Central Bank clarified that the existing ban on cryptocurrencies does not apply to domestically-developed cryptocurrencies. Source.
04.22.2018 On April 22, Iran’s Central Bank banned trading of digital currencies identified by Iran’s anti-money laundering body in December 2017, including Bitcoin, citing money laundering concerns. The Bank issued a statement in which it directed banks and currency exchanges to refrain from engaging in any sale or purchase of the identified cryptocurrencies. Source.
02.21.2018 The head of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Mohamma-Javad Azari Jahromi, revealed that the country plans to launch its own national cryptocurrency. According to the announcement via tweet, which followed a meeting with the government-owned Post Bank of Iran, a test model for the currency is being developed for review by the Iranian banking system. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
12.02.2017 Bucking international sanctions, the High Council of Syberspace in Iran (HCC) announced that it will accept the use of bitcoin but the digital currency will be subject to strict regulation. Source.

Ireland*
*EU Member

The Central Bank of Ireland does not regulate bitcoin. Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners have released tax-related guidance, and an inter-departmental government working group has been formed.

05.2018 Ireland’s Office of Revenue Commissioners released a manual on the tax treatment of various transactions under cryptocurrencies. It clarified that ordinary tax rules apply, and that cryptocurrency mining would generally not be subject to VAT. Source.
03.23.2018 The Irish Department of Finance released a discussion paper on virtual currencies and blockchain technology. Within the paper, a intra-departmental government working group was announced. Source.
07.27.2017 Ireland’s Central Bank Chief, Philip Lane, has maintained that blockchain is a large policy challenge. In a speech given in May, he indicated that the central bank is working to establish an internal working group that would focus on researching and advising on fintech developments and how the bank can use technologies like blockchain. Source.
12.10.2013

The Central Bank of Ireland was cited by the Minster for Finance as stating that it does not regulate bitcoin or consider it to be legal tender. The Minister for Finance also referenced a statement by the Revenue Commissioners that they are monitoring development of virtual currency and its tax implications, although they do not believe virtual currency represents a significant risk for tax evasion. Currently, implications for taxation are varied, as bitcoin has elements both of a commodity and a currency. Source.

Isle of Man

The government intends to put economic infrastructure in place promoting virtual currency businesses, subject to anti-money-laundering requirements.

08.10.2017

01.11.2017

 

The Isle of Man has been committed to fostering innovation in its fintech and digital payments sector over the last few years. Regulations remain fairly loose, and the Department of Economic Development has been active in directly investing in local businesses (£4.5 million in 2016). In 2016, the Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) and Treasury approved regulation to allow digital currencies including bitcoin to be accepted as cash. Primary Source. Secondary Source. Tertiary Source.
04.29.2016

The Gambling Supervision Commission Officials weighing regulatory changes that would allow gambling services to accept digital currencies “as if they were cash”. They issued a “public consultation” that was open from 4/26/16 until 05/20/16. Source.

05.07.2015

The Isle of Man Department of Economic Development announced plans to run a trial of the first government-owned blockchain project. Source.

03.26.2015

Effective April 1, 2015, virtual currency businesses, including those that exchange, sell, buy, or store virtual currency, must comply with the Isle of Man's anti-money laundering laws. Source.

06.10.2014

The Isle of Man Department of Economic Development announced that it intends to take action in the coming months to implement a regime that promotes business opportunities in digital currency but also applies appropriate anti-money laundering requirements. Source no longer available.

Israel

The Israeli central bank and Finance Ministry has issued warnings to the public about the risks associated with virtual currencies. Israel’s central bank has said it would view virtual currencies like bitcoin as a financial asset, not a currency.

03.13.2018 The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) has recommended lenient ICO regulations which would include clear guidance on what constitutes a security triggering securities law, as opposed to a utility token, which the ISA indicated should not necessarily be deemed a security by virtue of it conferring “usage rights in a product or service.” The ISA also indicated that tokens used solely for clearing, exchange or payments for a specific project should not be considered securities. The report recommended assessing new tokens individually based on an analysis of “circumstances and characteristics.” Source.
01.08.2018 In a meeting with Israel’s parliamentary finance committee, the central bank of Israel said that it would not recognize cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as currencies. Instead, the Bank of Israel will consider cryptocurrencies to be a financial asset. In the same meeting, members of the parliamentary finance committee pressed regulators to create regulation for cryptocurrencies urgently. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
12.25.2017 The Israel Securities Authority has warned that it plans to block companies whose market value is primarily based on trading cryptocurrency from being traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Companies. The chairman of Israel’s Securities Authority said that existing regulation is inadequate to protect the public from the risks associated with trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Primary Source. 
01.12.2017

Israel's government is set to apply capital gains tax to bitcoin sales, categorizing digital currencies as a type of property. According to a statement published on 12th January, the Israel Tax Authority (ITA) said that it would consider bitcoin and other digital currencies as a kind of intangible asset rather than a foreign currency. Individuals involved in the sale or mining of digital currencies would be subject to business tax rates. Further, any commercial sales of bitcoin or transactions involved with trading are subject to value-added tax (VAT), the agency said. Source.

02.19.2014

Central Bank and Finance Ministry warns against the use of virtual currencies, similar to those of the European Banking Authority. It warned that virtual currencies are not legal tender, may be subject to volatility, can be used for money laundering or terrorist financing, and are subject to loss via a technical attacks by hacking. Source no longer available.

01.16.2014

Reportedly, the Bank of Israel and the Israel Securities Authorities, and justice and finance ministries are waiting to see how other countries address virtual currencies before taking action. Source.

Italy*
*EU Member

A law requiring identification of parties in bitcoin transactions has been proposed in the Italian Parliament, but no regulation yet. Virtual currency is not legal tender

06.26.2017

The European Parliament is yet to approve the proposed modification of current anti-money laundering laws (AML) that were published in Italy late last month. The modified law, AML4, was introduced in Italy with its publication in the Italian Official Journal of the Legislative Decree 25th May 2017. The proposed legislation contains numerous articles that directly address cryptocurrencies, in addition to introducing a specific registry for Virtual Currency Exchanges. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

09.02.2016

Agenzia delle Entrate, Italy's top tax authority, released new information about its treatment of digital currencies, stating that purchases and sales made with bitcoin remain exempt from VAT. Source.

02.02.2015

The Central Bank of Italy issues a directive warning that virtual currency could be used for money laundering and terrorist financing, but that businesses that store and exchange virtual currency for fiat currency, among other virtual currency-related businesses, are not required to comply with AML/KYC requirements. Source.

01.30.2015

The Central Bank of Italy issues two directives warning about the use of virtual currency and agreeing with the EBA’s stance that financial institutions should not buy or invest in virtual currency until a formal legal framework is established. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

07.11.2014

The attorney general of Rome and an officer of the Italian financial police reportedly warned in separate interviews that Bitcoin could be abused by criminals and called for regulations to combat criminal activity involving virtual currency. Source.

01.18.2014

A law is proposed in the Italian Parliament to require identification of a sender in a transaction involving more than 1,000 euros. Source. 

Japan

Japan approved a law regulating Virtual Currencies on May 25, 2016 which was promulgated on June 3, 2016. The law was enacted and came into effect on April 1, 2017.

10.25.2018 The Japanese press reported that Japan’s Financial Services Agency announced that it is considering leverage caps for margin trading of cryptocurrencies to restrain speculative trading and curb exposure to volatility risks. Leverage caps of as low as 2 to 1 are being considered. Source.
10.24.2018 The Japan Financial Services Agency announced that it had approved the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) as a “certified fund settlement business association.” This designation will allow the JVCEA to operate as a self-regulatory body to set and enforce rules for Japan’s virtual currency exchanges. The JVCEA is composed of sixteen licensed virtual currency trading platforms in Japan. Source.
08.13.2018 Japan’s top financial regulator, the FSA, started inspecting cryptocurrency exchanges after the hack of Coincheck in January 2018. On Friday, August 10, the FSA announced the results of the on-site inspections of 23 cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country. Seven out of the 23 are fully licensed crypto exchanges; the rest are “deemed dealers,” which are exchanges that have been allowed to operate while their applications are being reviewed by the agency. Notably, the Agency found that “the total assets of the exchanges rapidly expanded to more than 6 times in one year.” The FSA is also concerned that there are fewer than 20 executives and employees at most places, with assets under custody of 3.3 billion yen (~$30 million) per person on average. The FSA will make use of the findings from the inspections when reviewing new applicants. Since the hack of Coincheck, the agency has not approved any cryptocurrency exchanges. Source.
08.07.2018 On August 7, 2018, the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) applied with the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) to become a self-regulatory body. The JVCEA, formed in March 2018, is comprised of sixteen Japanese licensed cryptocurrency exchanges, all of which are licensed with the FSA. The JVCEA has now applied to become a “certified fund settlement business association,” which would allow it to create self-regulatory rules regarding cryptocurrency trading. Also according to the report, the processing time with the FSA for an application to become a certified fund settlement business association is one to two months. Source.
04.30.2018 Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is discouraging cryptocurrency exchanges to stop handling certain cryptocurrencies, including Monero, Zcash and Dash, that it believes are widely used by, and gaining popularity with, criminal actors. According to the FSA, it has identified certain cryptocurrencies as vulnerable to use by bad actors because of the difficulty of tracing them and identifying the recipients. After the hack of Coincheck in February 2018, the FSA shutdown two cryptocurrency exchanges and has boosted its regulatory actions and inspection procedures. Source.
09.30.2017 The Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan granted its first licenses for digital currency exchanges to 11 companies. To obtain a license, companies must meet several strict requirements, including segregating individual customer accounts and strengthening its computer systems. Source.
04.01.2017 On April 1, Japan’s Financial Services Agency enacted a new law authorizing the use of digital currency as a method of payment, essentially granting it the same legal status as any other currency. The law follows months of debate which ultimately brought Bitcoin exchanges under anti-money laundering/know-your-customer rules, and resulted in the categorization of Bitcoin as a kind of prepaid payment instrument. The law will put in place capital requirements for exchanges as well as cybersecurity and operational stipulations. In addition, those exchanges will also be required to conduct employee training programs and submit to annual audits. Source.
02.01.2017 Overview of Japan financial regulations regarding virtual currencies, and payments generally. (Licensing specific issues are summarized in Section 6). Source.
05.25.2016

Japan passed a bill that includes amendments to the Payment Services Act (the PSA) and the Act on the Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds (the Criminal Proceed Transfer Act), both of which provide for virtual currency exchange transactions to be regulated by the relevant authorities.

The following persons or entities will fall under the category of a virtual currency exchange operator (VCEO): a person or entity that, in the course of trade, engages in (i) purchases and sales of the virtual currency or exchanges the virtual currency for another virtual currency; (ii) an intermediator or agent of the above transactions; or (iii) custody or safekeeping services in relation to a dealing or broking transaction set forth in (i) or (ii) above. Such person or entity is required to register with the Prime Minister as a VCEO.

A foreign entity that engages in the virtual currency exchange business outside of Japan and does not obtain such registration with the relevant regulator shall be prohibited from making solicitations of the businesses indicated in (i) through (iii) above to a resident in Japan. Further, a VCEO is now categorized as a "Specified Business Operator" under the Criminal Proceed transfer Act. Accordingly, a VCEO is required to confirm the identities of its customers at the time of any transaction and to report any suspicious trading to the relevant authorities. Finally, the amendments left unclear whether the simple purchase of virtual currencies would be subject to Japanese tax. 

The legislation was promulgated on June 3, 2016 and it is expected to be enforced within one year from the promulgation date.

Source no longer available.

03.04.216

On March 3, 2016 Japan first bill regarding cryptocurrencies was submitted to the Diet. The bill (i) provides definitions of Virtual Currency and Virtual Currency Exchange Services, (ii) requires registration of Virtual Currency Exchange Services (iii) sets forth the regulations regarding the business of Virtual Currency Exchange Service Providers, and (iv) imposes certain obligations (including customer identification obligations) by designating Virtual Currency Exchange Service Providers as “specified business operator” within the meaning of the Act on Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

02.24.2016

The Financial Services Agency (FSA) has proposed legislation that would recognize virtual currencies as equal to conventional currencies. If passed, virtual currency companies would be required to register with the FSA. Regulators hope to have the legislation passed before the end of the current Diet session.

06.19.2014

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party reportedly stated that Japan has decided against regulating bitcoin for now, but will continue to assess the possibility of regulation. Source.

Jersey

Virtual Currencies under threshold amount are subject to “light touch” regulatory scheme.

07.12.2018 The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), the financial regulator of the Isle of Jersey, issued a Guidance Note in which it detailed its new application process for the issuers of initial coin offerings (ICOs). In the Guidance Note, JFSC states that most ICOs are unlikely to be regulated by the JFSC; however, the JFSC places some conditions on an issuer of an ICO through powers conferred on the JFSC by a particular Jersey statute entitled the Control of Borrowing (Jersey) Order 1958 (COBO). Relying on the requirements of COBO, JFSC lays out specified requirements for ICO issuers based in Jersey to follow to maintain regulatory compliance. The Guidance also provides a description of the different classifications of ICOs in Jersey. It splits ICOs into “security tokens” and “non-security tokens,” although both types of tokes are treated the same by the JFSC. JFSC goes further with “non-security tokens” by specifying that “utility tokens” and “cryptocurrency tokens” are non-security tokens. Source.
09.23.2016

Authorities in the State Assembly, the legislature of the British Crown dependency of Jersey, published an order on 23rd September, stating that anyone operating as a digital currency exchanger is exempt from registration requirements if their annual turnover is less than £150,000. The order came into force on 26th September. The Jersey legislature also approved a change to the dependency's money laundering statutes, which would apply to digital currency exchangers. The orders reflect the outcome of a consultation process begun last year by Jersey's government. Source.

11.01.2015

The States of Jersey government released a regulatory scheme for virtual currency exchangers. As companies grow, regulatory requirements increase, with those companies exceeding 150,000 GBP facing higher reporting and registration requirements. Source.

Jordan

Virtual currencies are not legal tender in Jordan and the Central Bank has warned against their use. Banks, currency exchanges, financial companies, and payment service providers operating in Jordan are prohibited from dealing in virtual currencies.

02.22.2014

Reportedly, the Central Bank of Jordan warned against the use of virtual currencies and said they are not legal tender. The warnings were similar to those issued by other countries: that there is a high risk of devaluation, that their value is highly volatile, that virtual currencies can be used for criminal activities, and that there is a risk of total loss because it is not backed by a central authority. Further, the Central Bank reportedly told all banks, currency exchange companies, financial companies, and payment service providers, that they are prohibited from dealing in virtual currencies. Source.

Kazakhstan

 

N/A

 

10.17.2017

The Republic of Kazakhstan has agreed to a deal with Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) and Malta-based company EXANTE to develop and promote the cryptocurrency market in Kazakhstan. Source no longer available

07.30.2017

Kazakhstan has shown a strong commitment to embrace blockchain technology over the last few years. In 2015, The government has made moves towards regulating cryptocurrencies, in an effort to attract cryptocurrency startups, blockchain businesses, and ICOs. In June 2017, Kazakhstan announced its plans to start selling blockchain-based bonds, seeking to provide investors with a quick and inexpensive way to buy bonds. Source no longer available.

Kenya Despite issuing public warnings about ICOs, Kenya’s Central Bank (CBK) and the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority (CMA) have not issued bans or regulations on ICOs or cryptocurrency. Kenya appears to be shifting to regulate-not-ban position.  04.25.2018 On April 25, the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority (CMA) released a Capital Market Soundness Report, which proposed creating a task force to address challenges related to digital currencies and ICOs. The special unit would be a special unit under the purview of all relevant regulators including the CMA and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). This marks a shift in the CMA’s and CBK’s previous position in ICOs. In February 2018, the CMA warned investors against ICOs and stated that all offerings were unapproved, unregulated and highly speculative investments. The CBK Deputy Governor spoke at the Euromoney East Africa Conference in early April and stated that the country’s approach to blockchain technologies should be to cautiously embrace while addressing potential risks. Source.
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan’s central bank has stated that the use of virtual currency is illegal. 08.26.2014 The central bank issued a press release stating that the only legal tender in Kyrgyzstan is its national currency, the som, and that the use of virtual currency as a means of payment is illegal. The press release further warns of the risks of holding or transacting in virtual currency. Source no longer available.
Latvia*
*EU Member
N/A 11.06.2017 Latvia agreed to coordinate with fellow Baltic and EU-Member countries Estonia and Lithuania to develop capital markets in the Baltic region, which was memorialized between the ministries of the three countries in a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement set forth the goals of stimulating investment, creating jobs, supporting economic and social convergence to help absorb economic shocks, all of which will be achieved in part by facilitating cross-border investments and dismantling burdensome investment barriers. Source.

Lebanon

Bank of Lebanon has issued warnings to the public about the risks associated with virtual currencies, and has said that financial institutions and exchanges cannot, be decree, deal in virtual currencies as “e-money.”

12.19.2013

Bank of Lebanon has warned about risks of digital currencies, including that transactions made through unregulated networks cannot be guaranteed and losses not recoded; transactions may be irreversible; the currencies are highly speculative and volatile; and can be used for criminal activities. It also reminded financial institutions and exchanges that “e-money” is prohibited by decree. Source.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein does not currently regulate cryptocurrencies, ICOs, or other blockchain technologies. The Financial market of Liechtenstein (FMA) has released two instructional pamphlets on ICOs and cryptocurrencies. Because of its lack of specific rules on digital assets, coupled with permissive tax laws, Liechtenstein is among the most “crypto-friendly” countries in the world.

03.21.2018

Prime Minister Adrian Hasler announced that the government will propose new blockchain regulation by summer 2018, which would include cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies. He indicated that the purpose of the legislation is to provide clarity for business and consumers, and not to inhibit innovation in the industry. The new regulations is expected to continue Lichtenstein’s “light touch” approach to regulation in the crypto space. Source.

Lithuania*
*EU Member

Central Bank of Lithuania has issued the standard EBA warnings but is holding off on further regulations for now.

11.06.2017

Lithuania agreed to coordinate with fellow Baltic and EU-Member countries Estonia and Latvia to develop capital markets in the Baltic region, which was memorialized between the ministries of the three countries in a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement set forth the goals of stimulating investment, creating jobs, supporting economic and social convergence to help absorb economic shocks, all of which will be achieved in part by facilitating cross-border investments and dismantling burdensome investment barriers. Source.

10.10.2017

The Bank of Lithuania published a position paper on virtual currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) with guidance for potential organizers of ICOs. The bank reaffirmed its 2014 position, prohibiting banks and financial institutions from transacting with or handling cryptocurrencies. Regarding ICOs, the bank noted that although they are not currently regulated, ICOs involving the sale of coins with features of securities should be subject to Lithuania’s existing securities law. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

02.10.2014

Central Bank of Lithuania clarifies that regulation of virtual currencies is under discussion but that it is likely to wait until further action from EU countries before pursuing regulation. Source.

01.31.2014

Additional warnings issued regarding virtual currency and fluctuations in value of virtual currency. Source no longer available.

12.2013

Central Bank of Lithuania adopts the EBA warnings to consumers. Source no longer available.

Luxembourg*
*EU Member

The issuance of virtual currency is not regulated “from a monetary point of view.” Financial services providers, which could include virtual currency businesses, must receive authorization from the Minister of Finance.

 

02.14.2014

The Luxembourg financial regulatory commission (CSSF) has issued a statement concludes that virtual currencies are not legal tender. It warns that virtual currencies entail risks for their holders, and reminds financial services providers that carrying out activities of the financial sector requires an authorization by the Minister of Finance and subjecting themselves to CSSF supervision. Source.

Malaysia

 

Virtual currencies were previously not legal tender in Malaysia, but the government will enforce new cryptocurrency regulation soon.

 

03.22.2018

The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia, (BNM)), Jessica Chew Cheng Lian, gave a speech in which she discussed the country’s desire to encourage FinTech and blockchain technologies and spoke positively about how the technologies could advance banking services. Lian indicated that BNM has formed an Application Program Interface implementation group whose members include individuals from major fintech startups and the financial sector. The goal of the group is to develop a standardized open API framework. Lian also indicated that nine banks within Malaysia recently launched a collaborative project to develop blockchain applications for trade finance. Source.

11.06.2017

The chairman of Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) said at a finance conference that the SC is working on regulations and guidelines for the use of digital assets and cryptocurrency. The SC is working closely with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the country’s central bank, to draft the potential regulations. The chairman also indicated that the SC is working on a pilot program to research distributed ledger technology. Source no longer available.

01.02.2014

Central Bank of Malaysia has said that “The bitcoin” is not legal tender in Malaysia, that is does not regulate the operations of bitcoin, and that the public is advised to be cautious of the risks associated with the use of digital currencies. Source no longer available.

Malta*
*EU Member

Malta’s government is reportedly developing a broad national strategy that will see the government embrace bitcoin and blockchain innovation to promote and adopt the technology.

07.19.2018 The Malta Stock Exchange announced the creation of a new fintech and digital asset subsidiary. Source.
07.04.2018 The Maltese Parliament passed three bills into law to create a regulatory framework for blockchain, cryptocurrency and DLT. Source.
04.13.2018 On April 13, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) announced that it is considering moving ahead with introducing a “Financial Instrument Test,” which would clarify how the law defines digital assets and provide guidance to determine whether a blockchain-based asset would fall under EU regulation or Malta’s proposed Virtual Financial Asset Act (VFAA). The MFSA originally introduced the Test on November 30 in a paper addressing ICOs and other services related to virtual currency and tokens. The April 13 consultation paper expands on the proposed Financial Instrument Test. The government is seeking input from the financial services industry and the public, who can respond to the proposed regulation via a survey on the MFSA’s website. Source.
10.23.2017

The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) published draft regulation for collective investment schemes investing in virtual currencies, which would be narrowly applicable to Professional Investor Funds (PIFs) that have investing in virtual currencies as their objective. With the aim of protecting investors and mitigating risk, the MFSA has decided that investing in virtual currencies should be limited to PIFs organized as SICAVs or INVCOs, types of legal entities that are required to have a board of directors responsible for the conduct of the business and collective investment scheme. Source.

04.20.2017

Malta’s government is reportedly developing a broad national strategy that will see the government embrace bitcoin and blockchain innovation to promote and adopt the technology. The island nation’s Cabinet has approved the first draft of a national strategy to promote blockchain. The revelation was made by Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, speaking at an official financial conference. Source.

Mexico

Virtual currencies are not legal tender currency, and the Bank of Mexico has warned of risks of using virtual currencies.

03.01.2018 The lower house of Mexico’s Congress approved legislation for FinTech companies and give legal clarity for ICOs, payment methods and cryptocurrencies generally. Additionally, the law would permit open banking (sharing of user information by financial institutions) through public application programming interfaces (APIs). Details of the regulation will be determined by the CNBV (banking and securities regulator), the central bank and the finance ministry. Mexico’s Senate approved a version of the bill in December, which now awaits President Nieto’s signature. Source.
09.29.2015

Mexico’s Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit clarified its stance on bitcoin, stating that virtual currencies will be included in the prohibitions of article 32 of Mexico’s LFPIORPI, its federal law that is meant to prevent and identify operations transacted with illicit goods. Source no longer available.

03.12.2014

The Bank of Mexico has issued a press release warning of the risks of using virtual currencies, which also indicates that virtual currency is not legal tender. The release notes that currently virtual currencies do not currently have significant penetration in Mexico, however, the Bank in coordination with other authorities is monitoring their development and will issue regulations if necessary. Source no longer available.

Morocco The use of cryptocurrencies is outlawed in Morocco. 11.21.2017

Morocco’s foreign exchange authority, the Office des Changes, stated in a press release that transacting with cryptocurrencies within Morocco violates existing regulations. Source.

Netherlands*
*EU Member

The Netherlands do not regulate bitcoin under its Act on Financial Supervision, but its national bank has released consumer warnings regarding the use of virtual currency. One court has ruled that it is a “medium of exchange” but not electronic money and another court has classified virtual currency as an “object” subject to seizure.

03.20.2018 A Dutch court ruled in favor of a plaintiff who was owed a small amount of Bitcoin (BTC) in mining proceeds. In its ruling, the court expressly stated that Bitcoin represents a transferable value and has all the characteristics of a property right. Source.
03.24.2016

The Dutch central bank has committed to developing an internal blockchain prototype dubbed "DNBCoin", according to a recent publication. The development signals a desire on the part of the Dutch central bank to explore blockchain tech as an avenue for swapping physical cash with digital replacements. Source.

11.25.2014

Based on unofficial statements, the Ministry of Finance is reportedly considering exempting bitcoin transactions from VAT, treating bitcoins similarly to payment instruments. Source.

09.26.2014

Dutch prosecutors released a document describing their response to Project ITOM, which involves collaboration between EU and U.S. law enforcement, financial intelligence and monetary agencies to tackle illegal trade on the dark web. The Dutch prosecutors identified cryptocurrencies as one of their priorities for deterrent action, and emphasized the need for law enforcement to be able to obtain more information on Bitcoin transactions. Source.

08.24.2014

Courts reportedly ruled that bitcoins are objects, and the public prosecution department can therefore legally seize virtual currency from criminals and place them in its own digital purse. Source.

05.14.2014

A district court in a civil suit involving an uncompleted bitcoin transaction between two parties ruled that bitcoin is a medium of exchange that is an acceptable form of payment in the country but that cannot be defined as legal tender, common money, or electronic money. Source no longer available.

05.08.2014

The Dutch Central Bank issues additional warnings relating to use of virtual currency, including statements that virtual currencies are not a viable alternative for legal tender. Source.

12.20.2013

Virtual currencies such as bitcoins currently do not fall within the scope of the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands, as the Dutch Minister of Finance recently emphasized. Source no longer available.

12.03.2013

The Dutch Central Bank released a warning listing risks of usage of virtual currency and stated that it does not supervise virtual currencies. Source.

06.07.2013

A transcript of a question and answer section with the Dutch Minister of Finance regarding risks of using bitcoin. The Q&A indicates that bitcoin is not a financial product for the purposes of the Act on Financial Supervision and that bitcoin transactions are taxable on an as-converted to legal tender basis. Source.

New Zealand

Informal warnings about the risks associated with virtual currencies; suggestion from Commerce Commission that virtual currency may be regulated.

10.25.2017

New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) published commentary on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency services to supplement its online resources for investors. The FMA indicated that the specific characteristics and economic substance of an ICO determine whether the coins/tokens offered are a financial product and how (or if) it should be regulated. With respect to cryptocurrency services generally, the FMA set forth the legal obligations business offering services including crypto exchanges, wallets, and brokering: (1) Must be a member of a dispute resolution plan; (2) Must be on the Financial Services Providers Register; (3) Must comply with fair dealing provisions in the Financial Markets Conduct Act. Source.

11.12.2014

The Deputy Governor of New Zealand's Reserve Bank (RBNZ) reportedly likened Bitcoin to a commodity rather than a realistic cash substitute, and stated that a change in regulatory approach was needed to manage the increased operational risk caused by the rise of online and mobile payments. Source.

12.11.2013

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Gov. John McDermott warned people to “tread carefully” because of supply, controls, and monitoring. Also warned of risks from volatility in pricing and speculation. Source.

12.28.2013

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission reported as stating that bitcoin is covered by New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act and Commerce Act. Source.

Nigeria Nigeria does not regulate or recognize cryptocurrency as legal currency. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not approved the use of cryptocurrency for any transactions in the country. Various government agencies have issued warnings about cryptocurrencies and ICOs. 02.15.2018

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) issued a Special Notice, directed to banks, bank depositors and the public in which it warned of the potential risks of digital currencies for users, holders, and traders. The Notice included a reminder that digital currencies are unregulated, and emphasized the risks it perceives are the most likely for consumers, including lack of protection when using digital currencies for payments, potential loss of money resulting from cyber security breaches, price volatility, and absence of authorized exchange platforms. Source no longer available.

Norway

 

Indications are that virtual currencies are not “money” or “currency” but are assets subject to capital gains taxes.

 

08.15.2018 The Central Bank of Norway announced in a working paper this month that it is considering developing its own cryptocurrency. Noting the decline in cash usage in the country, the report sets forth several uses and advantages of a digital currency issued by a central bank, including providing a “reliable alternative to deposits in private banks,” a solution for electronic payment systems, and an alternative method for bank customers to store financial assets. Source.
02.09.2017 Following a recent European Court of Justice ruling, the Directorate of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance reviewed its position on the applicability of VAT exemptions to Bitcoin, and recently concluded that services relating to the exchange of Bitcoin are covered by the VAT Act’s exemption for financial services. Source.
12.13.2013

Norwegian Director of General Taxation says that virtual currencies are not “money” or “currency” (a widely accepted and agreed upon method of exchange for goods and services). Virtual currencies are, however, assets subject to capital gains taxes. Source.

Pakistan Cryptocurrencies are illegal in Pakistan and the government has issued harsh warnings to banks and other financial institutions against transacting in cryptocurrencies. 04.06.2018

Pakistan’s central bank reiterated that cryptocurrencies are illegal in the country and the government directed banks and other financial services providers to refuse customers seeking to transact in cryptocurrencies. Source.

Philippines

Exchanges are not regulated by the Philippines Central Bank or other regulatory authorities in the country, but The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed draft rules for Initial Coin Offerings.

08.07.2018 The central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BPS) is researching the question of whether it should issue its own central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC). Source.
08.02.20181 The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published draft rules governing token sales and digital currencies. The draft rules, entitled “Rules and Regulations Governing Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), provide a road toward compliance for all digital tokens offered for sale through an ICO in the country. Source.
07.10.2018 A Hong Kong-based company launched its cryptocurrency exchange business in the Philippines after it had secured the first cryptocurrency exchange license issued by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA). The CEZA is a government-owned and controlled corporation tasked to manage and supervise the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZA), which is itself a special economic zone in Cagayan Province, northern Luzon, in the Philippines. The license issued to the Hong Kong company is a provisional license that expires after six months; however, the company can acquire a permanent license if it is able to fully comply with the CEZA license requirements. CEZA officials have stated that they plan to issue 24 more financial technology solutions and offshore virtual currency (FTSOVC) licenses. Source.
04.25.2018 In February, regulators in the Philippines legalized the entry of 10 virtual currency companies into an economic zone within the country. On April 25, the regulators gave permission for those companies to begin operations following licensure, which the economic zone regulator, CEZA, said would be forthcoming shortly. The central bank of the Philippines has not officially endorsed the use of any cryptocurrency. Source.
11.28.2017 The Philippines Government has been moving towards legalizing and regulating digital currencies, which would be deemed securities and placed under the supervision of the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (PhSEC). The PhSEC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have been in discussions about the potential legalization and scope of the regulation. This follows the BSP’s granting an Electronic Money Issuer license in November 2017 to a major bitcoin exchange based in the Philippines. Source.
02.06.2017

Establishing itself as one of the first governments in Southeast Asia to formally regulate digital currency, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued Circular No. 944, regulating digital currency exchanges as remittance and transfer companies. Digital currency exchanges must obtain a Certificate of Registration (COR) and comply with annual filing and reporting obligations. The regulatory framework requires digital currency companies to implement appropriate risk management and security controls, and restricts “pay-outs” greater than $10,000 to checks and direct deposit. Source.

03.06.2014

The Central Bank of the Philippines has issued a press release describing virtual currencies and the risks of buying, holding or trading virtual currencies. The release indicates that the Central Bank is monitoring developments and may adopt appropriate regulatory measures as needed. Source.

Poland

Virtual currencies are not illegal, but are also not legal tender. They are subject to capital gains taxes and value-added tax.

02.22.2017

Poland’s Financial Ombudsman has called on the country’s Ministry of Finance to regulate the local cryptocurrency industry, claiming that as Poland’s cryptocurrency market is experiencing rapid growth, it should be subject to regulations that would protect customers of cryptocurrency exchanges. The appeal urged the Finance Ministry to evaluate and compare the best practices from those countries that have regulated cryptocurrencies, and implement the best instruments. Source.

02.03.2017

Poland’s Central Statistical Office (GUS) has recognized the trading and mining of virtual currencies as an official economic activity. As a result, companies active in the industry will now be able to register with the agency. The development marks a significant advance for industry players in Poland where, to date, the state has not issued any specific legislation that regulates bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Source.

01.20.2017

A draft bill introduced in Poland aims to create a create a Central Database of Accounts to be maintained by the Ministry of Finance, which would provide authorities rapid and easy access to information on the locations of certain funds and other liquid assets. The draft bill would apply to banks, credit unions, payment services providers, and “entities that offer products or services that enable storage of authentication data required to access virtual currencies,” Covered entities would be required to notify authorities within 24 hours of the opening or closing of an account, or a change to account information, with penalties of up to PLN 1.5 million or up to three years in prison. The bill marks Poland’s first attempt at regulating the digital currencies market. Source no longer available.

11.02.2016

The Polish Ministry of Finance concluded that, while virtual currencies are not subject to any separate regulation under Polish legislation, and while their use in Poland is fully legal, they are subject to income tax. Source.

06.20.2016

Poland's Ministry of Digital Affairs announced an expansive digitization plan which seeks to promote digital public services, the development of cashless solutions and the implementation of electronic identification (eID). Source.

07.09.2014

The deputy finance minister reportedly released a statement that options and futures contracts based on bitcoin can be considered as financial instruments. The statement also concluded that Bitcoin is not legal tender in Poland or elsewhere. Source.

05.27.2014

The Lodz provincial office of the Polish Tax Administration issued an opinion stating that the sale of mined bitcoins is subject to Polish value-added tax of 23%, based on the rationale that bitcoin mining is a service with a set service fee, and mined bitcoins will be subject to VAT as a result. Source.

12.20.2013

Ministry of Finance announces that it does not consider bitcoin illegal, although it is not a legal currency either. Also clarified that profits from virtual currencies are subject to taxation as gains. Source.

Portugal*
*EU Member

Warnings from the Bank of Portugal about the risks of virtual currency, while clarifying that the Bank does not regulate bitcoin.

11.01.2015

The Ministry of Finance has proposed amendments to the criminal code that would result in prison terms for those found guilty of converting virtual currencies into rubles. Primary Source. Secondary Source. Tertiary Source.

10.03.2014

The Bank of Portugal issued a consumer alert warning of the risks of use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. The warning states that virtual currencies are not safe, and cautions that users bear the risks of using virtual currencies due to their lack of legal tender status and consumer protection regulation. Source no longer available.

11.22.2013

The Bank of Portugal issued a press release highlighting the risks of using bitcoin and stating that the Bank of Portugal does not oversee or supervise the issuance or use of bitcoin. The Bank concluded the release by indicating that banks are aware of the need to monitor and may eventually recognize and act on bitcoin. Source no longer available.

Romania*
*EU Member

  07.05.2018 The Romanian Ministry of Finance has published a draft Emergency Ordinance regulating the activity of issuing electronic money, which may apply to cryptocurrencies. Source.

Russia

Digital currencies were previously banned as money surrogates under federal law, however, 2017 has seen a softening of Russia’s regulation of cryptocurrency. Plans to regulate cryptocurrency have made headway, and procedures for buying cryptocurrency are scheduled to be announced by the end of 2017.

07.23.2018 The Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Financial Markets announced that a new bill on crypto-currencies was being considered and that it would not include a separate section on taxation specifically for crypto-currency trading or mining, meaning no special tax status would apply to cryptocurrencies. Source.

03.02.2018

01.29.2018

The Ministry of Economic Development of Russia proposed amending the current draft of the pending federal law on digital assets, which was substantively drafted in January 2018. The proposed “crypto-friendly” proposals included tax exemptions on profits of transactions involving cryptocurrencies and an 10x increase on the limit for individual ICO investments. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
12.07.2017

Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Aleksey Moiseev indicated that the Russian government is working on laws to regulate digital currencies, but proposed that mining of digital currencies will become illegal. Criminal penalties could be applied in cases of financial pyramid schemes or tax evasion, but Moiseev clarified that most penalties would be administrative. Source.

10.10.2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin directed his government and the Central Bank to issue an official cryptocurrency, the “cryptoruble.” The cryptocurrency would be legal tender within Russian and subject to taxation. A minister speaking about the directive noted that the digital ruble cannot be mined, and the issuance of the cryptoruble does not signal an endorsement or legalization of other decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Source.

09.08.2017 Russia’s finance ministry announced that it wants to regulate cryptocurrency transactions that involve Russian citizens and companies. Acknowledging the global market of cryptocurrencies, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov indicated that the ministry does not intend to ban cryptocurrency outright. By the end of 2017, the finance ministry is due to finish a law that would set forth a procedure for buying cryptocurrency, which includes registration of potential buyers. The ministry indicated that it plans to regulate sales of cryptocurrency in a similar fashion to securities, but it did not explain what criteria would be used to establish which cryptocurrency transactions would fall under the purview of securities law. Source.
05.08.2017

Russia's government is said to be moving ahead with plans to introduce rules for blockchain use by 2019. According to state-owned news service TASS, the disclosure came from a report from the Ministry of Communications, which was not publicly accessible. TASS reports that the documents touch on "the adoption of legal acts" related to blockchain, positing 2019 as the time frame for the update. Source.

04.13.2017 A Russian central bank official indicated that it was “too early” to discuss legally recognizing bitcoin. According to the state-run news agency TASS, 2018 would see some kind of regulatory position emerge from Russia's government, though discussions remain ongoing as to what that position might be. Source.
05.19.2016

Russian bitcoin ban faces an uncertain future after a draft of the bill was withdrawn. The bill – popularly known as the "Russian bitcoin ban" – received some negative feedback after the Justice Ministry is said to have objected to the bill on the grounds that its comments were not incorporated. The national legislature, the Duma, has been deliberating the bill since earlier this year. Source.

04.29.2016

The Finance Ministry in Moscow is planning to submit legislation next month which would punish those using digital currencies. The proposed legislation would prohibit the issuance of digital currencies, as well as their use in exchange for goods and services in Russia. The range of penalties is commensurate with the level of usage. Russia joins Bolivia, Iceland, and Vietnam in taking steps to criminalize digital currency use. Source.

01.11.2016

Lawmakers submitted a new draft bill to Russia’s legislative assembly, the Duma, proposing a ban on virtual currencies. The law would impose imprisonment and civil penalties ranging from $265 to $66,000 for those who violate the law. The bill prohibits “malevolent issuance of money surrogates,” which may include miners as well as exchangers, “assistance in money surrogates circulation,” which captures virtual currency wallets, and “circulation of money surrogates” which includes those who purchase goods and services using virtual currency. The bill goes so far as to prohibit advertising virtual currencies in mainstream media and online, by prohibiting “intended distribution of information sufficient and necessary for issuance of money surrogates in media and information and communications networks.” Source.

11.20.2015

Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev expressed support and appreciation for blockchain technology, while maintaining the Ministry’s stance on bitcoin as a danger to the banking system. The Ministry of Finance seeks to criminalize bitcoin conversions through a proposed draft law that would subject those who convert the virtual currency to up to four years in prison. Source.

12.03.2014

The Ministry of Finance revised its proposed legislation banning virtual currency activity, reducing the applicable fines by approximately 20-50%. Source.

09.13.2014

Deputy Finance Minister reportedly announced that a law will be passed by next spring banning transactions in virtual currencies. The law will reportedly provide for criminal penalties against miners of virtual currency, and ban access to exchanges and online stores accepting bitcoin. Source.

08.01.2014

The finance ministry is reportedly preparing a bill prohibiting transactions with “money substitutes,” including cryptocurrency. The ministry reportedly believes that virtual currencies are attractive to the shadow economy due to their lack of regulation. Source.

02.07.2014

Central Bank of Russia says that, under existing regulations, virtual currencies are a money surrogate, not an official currency, and are prohibited. Entities that use or exchanges that trade in virtual currencies will be subject to suspicion based on the potential use of virtual currencies for money laundering or other criminal activities. Source.

01.24.2014

Former economy minister and current chief of state-run OAO Sberbank Herman Gref says that banning virtual currencies in Russia would be a “colossal step backward” and had sent letter to the Kremlin, central bank, and Finance Ministry regarding the same. Source.

01.15.2014

The Security Committee in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved a draft counterterrorism bill that included restrictions on anonymous transactions, including virtual currencies. Source.

Saudi Arabia Unauthorized virtual currencies have been declared illegal in Saudi Arabia. 08.12.2018 The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) published a statement on August 12, 2018 advising that the Standing Committee for Awareness on Dealing in Unauthorized Securities Activities in the Foreign Exchange Market (ForEx) warns that “unauthorized virtual currencies are illegal inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The committee assured “that virtual currency including, for example but not limited to, the Bitcoins are illegal in the kingdom and no parties or individuals are licensed for such practices.” The committee warned against trading in the digital currencies “for their negative consequences and high risks on traders as they are out of government supervision.” The committee did not specify any penalties or fines for cryptocurrency trading. Source.
10.08.2017 The governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) said in a press conference that the authority plans to launch a digital currency through a pilot project. The digital currency would only be available to be traded among banks; the governor ruled out plans to issue a digital currency for use by individuals and companies. Source.
Senegal Senegal is a member if the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU). The Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), is the Central Bank of the WAEMU. The countries that are members of this union are Benin, Burkina, Fasco, Cote d’lvoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. 11.06.2016

Banque Régionale de Marchés (BRM) announced that it partnered with eCurrency Mint Limited (eCurrency) to provide a digital currency in the WAEMU. BRM will issue the digital tender, eCFA, in compliance with e-money regulations of BCEAO. The eCFAs will be transacted across all existing payment platforms and will be equivalent to physical legal tender. The eCFA distribution will begin in Senegal and will be extended in a second phase to Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Togo and Guinea- Bissau. Source.

Serbia Warning from the National Bank of Serbia that Bitcoin is not legal tender and cannot be subject to sale and purchase by banks and licensed exchange dealers. Warning that lack of legal protections over Bitcoin constitutes a risk and may result in financial losses. 10.02.2014

The National Bank of Serbia issued a statement that Bitcoin is not legal tender in Serbia or any other country, and cannot be subject to sale and purchase by banks and licensed exchange dealers. The statement further warns that due to the lack of legal protections, investing in bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies not issued or backed by a central bank constitutes a risk and may result in financial losses. Source.

Singapore

Virtual currencies are not “money” or “currency.” However, virtual currency businesses may be subject to anti-money-laundering regulations. Informal reporting suggests that virtual currency sales are taxed as income, investments are taxed as capital gains, and may be subject to goods and services tax.

10.08.2018 The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently released licensing guidelines for individuals providing “digital advisory services,” which the guidelines define as the providing advice on investment products using client-facing “automated, algorithm-based tools” with “limited or no human adviser interaction in the advisory process.” The guidelines reflect an attempt by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to make it easier for financial institutions to offer digital advisory services. Source.
04.06.2018 Singapore’s minister of finance, Hen Swee Keat, made opening remarks at the 22nd ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting in which he indicated that Singapore would continue to support innovations in the FinTech industry and acknowledged the potential that distributed ledger technology (DLT) can provide for the country more broadly. Specifically, Minister Keat discussed the current pilot project between Singapore and Thailand, a project focused on regional “fast payments linkages,” which rely on DLT. Although he did not provide details on other projects, Minister Keat indicated that Singapore is dedicated to exploring other blockchain initiatives that would facilitate financial transactions in Southeast Asia and lead to financial inclusion for under banked areas in various countries in the region. Source.
11.21.2017

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published a consultation paper proposing legislation for payment services. The proposed bill would expand the scope of regulation to include the purchase and sale of virtual currencies and other innovations used in domestic money transfers and merchant transactions via point-of-sale or online payment gateways. Specifically, payment firms will only need to hold one license under a single regulatory framework to conduct payment activities, and only certain payment activities will require licensing. The MAS indicated its commitment to ensuring that new legislation is not overly burdensome, noting that the bill will not apply a one-size-fits-all to all payment service providers, but will differentiate in how regulatory requirements apply based on the potential risks of specific payment activities.

The new legislation would be incorporated into Singapore’s existing laws on payment services, the 2006 Money-Changing and Remittance Businesses Act. The draft is the second of its kind, and was amended following feedback received from the first consultation paper. The current paper is available for comment until January 8, 2018. Source.

10.03.2017

Deputy Prime Minster Shanmugaratnam of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) responded to questions from Parliament on the topic of regulating cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Noting that virtual currencies themselves are not regulated, the DPM clarified that the MAS regulates activities involving the use of cryptocurrencies and updated legislation will be introduced expanding and streamlining the scope of existing laws. With respect to ICOs, he indicated that the MAS has not issued new specific legislation but continues to monitor the development of coin/token offerings in the event that additional targeted legislation becomes necessary. Source.

08.01.2017

The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that it plans to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs) that it deems to be securities, based on an analysis of facts and circumstances. This is a departure from Singapore’s ICO-friendly position, where regulators previously stated that they do not consider token sales to be securities. Source.

11.16.2016

The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced the development of a blockchain proof-of-concept pilot project that will facilitate inter-bank payments, globally. The project aims to develop a payment system that will enable banks to transact between global markets at any hour, with instant transfer of funds between participants. Source.

08.29.2016

The central bank of Singapore has proposed a new regulatory framework for payments providers in the city-state, a move that would bring digital currency exchanges under its oversight. The proposed framework would require applicable companies to obtain a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and divides payment activities into several categories. Digital currency exchanges would be covered by a provision overseeing startups that provide "money transmissions and conversion services." Source.

03.13.2014

Monetary Authority of Singapore states that it will regulate virtual currency intermediaries to address money laundering and terrorist financing risks. Planned regulations include requirements to verify customer identities and reporting suspicious transactions. Source no longer available.

01.09.2014

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) reportedly responds to request about taxation. Companies will be taxed on income based on virtual currency sales. When used as an investment, taxed as capital gains. Further, GST could vary depending on the level of services. Reminded that virtual currencies are not “money” or “currency” so they are a good or service for taxation. Source.

09.22.2013

Monetary Authority of Singapore cautions consumers regarding risks of trading in bitcoin. Source no longer available.

Slovenia

Bank of Slovenia has issued warnings to the public about the risks associated with virtual currencies. Slovenia has also indicated that certain activities, including mining, would be subject to taxation.

12.24.2013

The Slovenian Ministry of Finance indicated that individuals selling bitcoin for capital gains would not pay income tax, but bitcoin miners would pay income tax. Overall, Slovenia intends to review bitcoin taxation on a case-by-case basis. Source.

12.12.2013

Bank of Slovenia reiterated EBA warnings about virtual currencies: (1) can lose money, (2) money may be stolen from virtual wallet, (3) EU refund rights do not protect when VC for payment, (4) value can change quickly, (5) can be used for criminal activity, including money laundering, and (6) consumers may be subject to tax liability. Source no longer available.

South Africa

South African Reserve Bank has warned that virtual currencies have no legal status and are subject to lack of security, may lose value, and may not be convertible to legal tender.

08.13.2018 The South African Revenue Services (SARS) recently released a draft cryptocurrency tax legislation. The draft defines the framework of virtual currency taxation in the country. The SARS’ stance on the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies is that it will continue to apply normal income tax rules to cryptocurrencies and will expect affected taxpayers to declare cryptocurrency gains or losses as part of their taxable income. Source.
02.13.2018 The South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the Central Bank in that country, announced its new project designed “to replicate interbank clearing and settlements” on an Ethereum-based blockchain. The project is based on proof-of-concept (PoC) model. Through this project, the Central Bank has expressed its intention to gain a practical understanding of distributed ledger technologies within the banking industry. Source.
07.26.2017 South African Town of Orania plans to create a digital version of its existing currency, which will be in circulation within a year, as early as mid-August 2017. The “e-ora” would be a crypto version of the current ora, which is not a true currency in itself, but functions as a voucher pegged to the South African rand. Users will be able to buy e-ora from the central bank via an app and can spend e-ora locally using smartphones. Source.
08.23.2016

South Africa’s central bank is “open” to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, according to new statements from its governor. Governor Lesetja Kganyago indicated that the South African Reserve Bank is exploring the technology and interested in innovations that may stem from its development. The remarks suggest a greater degree of interest on the part of the central bank in the technology, coming less than two years after it released a position paper on digital currencies. Source no longer available.

02.20.2014

South African Reserve Bank issues warning similar to those of other countries that virtual currencies have no legal statute and cannot guarantee “security, convertibility, or value.” Source.

South Korea

South Korean regulators appear to be taking a cautious approach to cryptocurrency regulation, and have sought to ensure cryptocurrency companies, including exchanges, are subject to equivalent anti-money laundering measures and tax obligations as other forms of financial intermediaries.

10.22.2018 South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) issued a note to investors warning about certain risks of investing in cryptocurrency. The note tells investors that cryptocurrency funds are structured similarly to mutual funds, which may lead investors to believe that such funds are legal investments. Importantly, however, cryptocurrency funds may be subject to violations of South Korea’s Capital Markets Act. Source.
07.13.2018 The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced a government plan for national investment projects, including a proposed reduction of tax obligations relating to blockchain technology investment support. Source.
06.27.2018 The FSC announced revised virtual currency anti-money laundering guidelines, including an intention to monitor enhanced due diligence with respect to bank accounts that work with virtual currency, and monitor interactions between local and foreign virtual currency exchanges, effective July 10, 2018. The revised guidelines follow on from guidelines released on January 30, 2018 and an inspection of banks subject to the guidelines in April 2018. Source.
06.15.2018 The Bank of Korea released a research report titled ‘Payment and Settlement Systems Report 2017’ which noted the research the Bank of Korea were conducting in the area of cryptocurrencies and blockchain and indicated that it would continue research in this area. Source.
 03.08.2018 Despite previously threatening to ban ICOs, Korean financial authorities have suggested that they are planning to allow initial coin offerings (ICOs) and blockchain technologies. Korea’s Financial Service Commission (FSC) has stated that it hasn’t decided yet whether to allow ICOs. Kan Young-soo, who oversees cryptocurrency trading polices at the FSC stated that Korea currently has no plans to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, but it plans to regulate them in the future. Source.
12.06.2017

Korea’s Financial Services Commission has issued a ban on the trading of bitcoin futures, prompting several securities firms to cancel seminars scheduled in December for bitcoin futures investors. The Korean government has indicated that it will not ban bitcoin exchanges outright, but that ICOs and futures trading will remain subject to the ban. Source.

08.02.2017

A lawmaker in South Korea is pushing for more regulation for digital currency. The representative proposed an amendment to the existing Electronic Financial Transaction Act, which would classify digital currency businesses as digital currency traders, brokers, issuers, and managers. Source.

11.18.2016

Financial regulators in South Korea launched a new digital currency task force, with the goal to introduce new regulations for exchange. Source no longer available.

12.10.2013

Ministry of Strategy and Finance, Bank of Korea, Financial Services Commission, and Financial Supervisory Service said that “cyber currency” is not a “real legal currency” and does not meet the standard regulations governing currency transactions, either via the Internet or commercial institutions. Also warned about the high volatility in the value of bitcoin, and about its lack of intrinsic value. Source.

Spain*
*EU Member

Virtual currencies are reportedly taxable as an electronic payment system under gambling law, but its treatment under other areas of law is unclear.

02.15.2018 The Spain’s Congress is drafting legislation that would offer potential tax breaks for companies using blockchain technology, and considering further legislation that would make Spain an attractive venue for ICOs. The Spanish People’s Party, the party of Spain’s Prime Minister, is in charge of the drafting. Source.
10.28.2017

Following its independence referendum, Catalonia is working with fintech experts based in Estonia to create an e-residency program and develop a new digital currency exclusively for the region. Despite Spain’s continued efforts to maintain legal control over Catalonia, the Catalan government intends for the new digital currency to be free of regulatory control from Spain and the European Central Bank. Source.

04.23.2015

The Ministry of Treasury confirmed that cryptocurrency is exempt from VAT in Spain. Source.

09.11.2014

Ministry of Treasury and General Government reportedly issued a ruling that it will treat Bitcoin as an electronic payment system for purposes of gambling law. It is unclear whether the Ministry’s interpretation is applicable to other areas of laws. Source.

Sweden*
*EU Member

Informal statement from a tax official suggests that virtual currencies are not currencies in Sweden but instead will be treated as assets.

11.15.2016

Sweden's central bank is considering the possibility of issuing its own digital currency, though the exact technology it will use is yet to be determined. The Riksbank said it is facing pressure to make the switch following a decline in domestic cash use. With the news, Sweden becomes the latest nation to see its central bank consider a digital currency, a process that for most has included at least some exploration of blockchain-based digital currencies. Source no longer available.

04.24.2015

Sweden announced that it will treat income generated from certain bitcoin mining activity as income from employment. Source.

09.18.2014

The Swedish central bank published an article in its biannual economic review journal describing Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, their benefits and risks, use in Sweden and future outlook. Source no longer available.

06.18.2014

The Swedish Central Bank issued a commentary analyzing whether virtual currencies have affected the retail payments market, which noted that there are significant risks associated with virtual currency, as it is not subject to regulation. Source.

01.22.2014

Swedish Tax Agency official says that Sweden is likely to view virtual currencies as an asset, like art or antiques, and not a currency. Source.

 Switzerland

Swiss financial regulator has defined licensing requirements for bitcoin kiosk operators and created special requirements for blockchain companies applying for licenses in the country. The country has also said that virtual currency platforms are subject to anti-money laundering rules.

12.03.2018 On December 3, Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) announced new requirements for blockchain companies applying for a FinTech license in Switzerland. The new requirements are notably less restrictive than those imposed on incumbent financial services companies. FINMA’s stated goal for the new requirements is to facilitate greater market access for FinTech companies and boost innovation within Switzerland. Source.
09.21.2018 The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) published guidelines to help its member banks continue to serve blockchain companies, which are increasingly looking to open corporate accounts with Swiss banks. The guidelines are the work of an internal working group and the Crypto Valley Association, which have been focused on helping Swiss banks navigate the demand for accounts and the associated diligence requirements. The guidance concludes that blockchain companies that have held an initial coin offering (ICO) for fundraising purposes and companies whose business model touches on blockchain technologies should be treated differently by banks when conducting their diligence to establish an account. Source.
02.16.2018

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) revealed potential ICO regulation, which would use a three-tier system for classifying tokens based on their use and the rights and benefits they confer on a purchaser. The proposed plan, which has not yet been implemented, sets forth four groups of tokens/coins:

  1. Payment tokens (cryptocurrencies), which would not be classified as securities;
  2. Utility tokens, which would generally not be considered securities if they have a use or can be exchanged for a service. However, the purchaser must be able to use the token at the time of the ICO;
  3. Asset tokens, which are widely considered securities and are subject to Swiss Securities Laws; and
  4. Hybrid tokens, which will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Source.

09.29.2017

Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued guidance on the increase in initial coin offerings (ICOs) within the country. Additionally, FINMA is investigating several ICOs to determine whether the issuers of those ICOs violated current regulations. Source.

11.11.2016

The Swiss Federal Department of Finance (FDF) outlined its plan to regulate fintech with the aim of introducing draft legislation to parliament by mid-2017 after a public consultation. The plan’s stated aim was to help the country draw in more fintech companies by virtue of an accommodative stance aimed to reduce barriers to market entry for fintech firms. Source.

06.16.2015

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration confirmed that bitcoin is exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) in Switzerland. Source.

06.25.2014

The Swiss federal council issued a report on virtual currencies examining the economic significance, legal treatment and risks of virtual currencies. The report concludes that there is no present need for legislative measures to be taken given that virtual currencies are a marginal phenomenon and many of their applications are covered by existing financial, criminal and contract laws. Source.

06.25.2014

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority issued a fact sheet clarifying that the purchase and sale of bitcoins on a commercial basis, and the operation of trading platforms used to transfer money or bitcoins from a platform’s users to other users, are subject to Switzerland’s anti-money laundering act. Notably however, a banking license is required by providers who accept bitcoins from clients and administer bitcoin holdings for clients. Source no longer available.

06.20.2014

The Swiss financial market regulator gave its approval for a bitcoin kiosk operator to operate a kiosk network, two weeks after delaying the launch of a different bitcoin kiosk. The regulator’s response also set forth the money transmitter licensing and self-regulatory organization membership requirements for operating a Bitcoin kiosk network in Switzerland. Source.

Taiwan

Central Bank and Financial Supervisory Commission warned that virtual currencies are not currencies, but commodities and have no legal protection. Both plan to regulate virtual currencies. It is illegal to publicly solicit money through the sale of digital tokens, but some cryptocurrency platforms are allowed to trade in cryptocurrency. In 2018, the Taiwan government has taken a more measured tone regarding cryptocurrency generally and has suggested that it is considering a more open regulatory approach.

11.02.2018 Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the country’s Money Laundering Control Act and the Terrorism Financing Prevention Act, giving Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) the power to require operators of virtual currency platforms to implement a “real-name system” requiring users to register their real names. Banks will also be required to report suspicious anonymous transactions to regulators. Source.
04.26.2018 The Justice Minister of Taiwan has reaffirmed the country’s plans to move ahead in passing new regulatory guidance on trading cryptocurrencies and has directed the new regulation to be in effect by November 2018. The goal is for Taiwan’s central bank, the Ministry of Interior, and the Bureau of Investigation to determine how each entity will regulate cryptocurrencies. A primary focus of the new regulation will be strengthening Taiwan’s AML rules. Source.
03.22.2018 Although no formal regulation has been proposed as yet, Taiwan’s government has given indications that it plans to take a more liberal yet measured approach to regulating cryptocurrency and the FinTech sector. A minority party lawmaker, Jason Hsu, has pushed for lawmakers and regulators to craft legislation that gives greater clarity for cryptocurrencies and the FinTech industry. Source.
05.04.2017

The executive branch of the Government of Taiwan has approved a draft of the Financial Technology Innovative Experimentation Act. The Act would establish a regulatory sandbox for fintech firms to test new financial products in the pilot stage. Source.

11.13.2015

The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) released a statement to CoinDesk reiterating an earlier statement defining bitcoin as a “virtual commodity” and refusing to acknowledge it as a currency. The FSC stated “At the end of 2013, the Central Bank of the Republic of China [sic] and the FSC has [sic] released a joint statement that defines Bitcoin as a 'virtual commodity'. Considering the non-currency nature and risk of Bitcoin, the FSC has required banks in Taiwan not to receive or exchange Bitcoin. At present, the FSC’s position on this issue remains the same as before." Source.

11.02.2015

Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman recently stated at a legislative hearing the opinion that virtual currencies were illegal. Commission plans to work with the Central Bank to regulate virtual currencies. Source.

12.31.2013

Central Bank and Financial Supervisory Commission warned against use because virtual currencies do not have legal protection. Suggested they may regulate virtual currencies if country financial institutions begin to engage with virtual currencies. Source.

Thailand

Thailand does not regulate cryptocurrency transactions, but the position of the SEC in Thailand is that bitcoin is an asset that can be traded. The SEC does not endorse the status of bitcoin, and bitcoin is not recognized as legal tender to pay off debt, but the Bank of Thailand has started to allow banks to open subsidiaries for crypto dealings but are still banned from directly dealing with cryptocurrencies.

08.04.2018 The Bank of Thailand announced Thai banks will be allowed to issue digital tokens, provide crypto-brokerage services, be involved with crypto-related businesses, and invest in cryptocurrencies through subsidiaries. However, according to a report in the Coin Telegraph, Thai banks and other financial institutions are still banned from directly dealing with cryptocurrencies. Source.
07.16.2018 The regulations of SEC Thailand pursuant to the Digital Asset Management Act went into effect. Under the regulations, an entity seeking to conduct an ICO must register and receive approval and requests can be made by ‘ICO portals’ on behalf of projects. Source.
07.02.2018 The association of securities companies (ASCO) in Thailand announced plans to launch a joint cryptocurrency exchange. Source.
05.14.2018 The Digital Asset Management Act BE 2561 was enacted on May 14, 2018. Under the Act, SEC Thailand was granted authority to regulate digital assets, with three categories mentioned: brokers, dealers, and ICO portals. SEC Thailand will release regulations following this enactment. The Bank of Thailand’s existing ban on financial institutions partaking in cryptocurrency related activities has not been immediately altered. Source.
03.14.2018 The Cabinet of Thailand (the executive branch of the Thai government) has approved the drafts of two royal decrees that would regulate digital asset transactions and levy taxes on digital assets. A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said that the new legislation would apply to cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The proposals still need to be reviewed by the Council of State before final approval by the Cabinet. Source.
10.27.2017

The Securities and Exchange Commission, Thailand (SEC Thailand) issued a Public Consultation Document setting forth its regulatory approach on Initial Coin Offerings. Source.

08.18.2014

A senior director of the Bank of Thailand reportedly stated that a company providing bitcoin exchange against the baht does not require approval or a license from the central bank. However, exchanging bitcoin for foreign currency would require an operating license granted by the central bank. The official also stated that exchanges also have to comply with related commercial, consumer and anti-money laundering laws. Source.

02.20.2014

Reportedly, the Bank of Thailand concluded that Thai law does not regulate virtual currencies, but that exchanges still cannot operate to the extent that they cannot prevent virtual currencies from being exchanged for currencies other than the baht. Source.

07.29.2013

Bank of Thailand reportedly said, in a meeting with a Bitcoin company, that there is an absence of applicable laws and capital controls and that, buying or selling bitcoin, buying or selling goods or service for bitcoin, or receiving bitcoin from outside Thailand is illegal. Source.

Tunisia

The Central Bank of Tunisia exerts, on the State's behalf, the exclusive privilege of issuing on the territory of the Republic bearer banknotes and metal coins which are the only legal tender in the country.

It is illegal to import or export Tunisian dinars. As a result, many converting ATMs exist throughout the country for tourists.

The currency for Tunisia is the Dinar. The Dinar is the official currency of several countries including Libya, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, and Tunisia. The common currency symbol for the Tunisian Dinar is TD.

01.11.2016

Tunisia has been reported to be replacing its self-created eDinar digital currency with a blockchain-based version, making it the world’s first country to issue national currency using advanced blockchain technology. Source.

12.28.2015

Tunisia agreed to become the first nation to offer its national currency for transmittance through cryptographic technology. Primary Source. Secondary Source.

Turkey

 

Turkey’s recently enacted law on payment services and electronic money does not apply to bitcoin.

 

02.22.2018 Rival parties in Turkey’s government have both supported the idea of developing a government-backed cryptocurrency in the country. The deputy chair of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has drafted a report on cryptocurrencies and proposed a national bitcoin called “Turkcoin.” The report also urged the government to issue clearer regulation for cryptocurrency to clarify law for market participants and to facilitate cracking down on bad actors. Source. 
11.25.2013

Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency announced in a press release that bitcoin is not covered by Turkey’s “Law on Payment and Securities Reconciliation Systems, Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions” and is therefore not subject to regulation under the Law. The Agency cautioned bitcoin users about risks associated with volatility and anonymity within the bitcoin system. No apparent changes in this position as of April 2015. Source.

United Arab Emirates

 

The UAE’s regulatory framework on Stored Values and Electronic Payment Systems does not apply to bitcoin.

The UAE does not currently regulate ICOs. However, it is working on draft rules that will govern token sales. The relevant regulatory authorities for ICO guidance are the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM).

Emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Ajman
  • Dubai
  • Fujairah
  • Ras al-Khaimah
  • Sharjah
  • Umm al-Quwain 
10.08.2018 The United Arab Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority announced that it is drafting rules that will govern token sales under its securities jurisdiction and is working with industry to develop trading platforms for cryptoassets. The Authority plans to have finalized regulations in place by mid-2019. Source.
03.28.2018 The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) issued the first license to a cryptocurrency-trading financial company. The DMCC is a large free economic zone in the UAE that does not levy personal or corporate income tax. The newly-licensed company is a subsidiary of an international gold investment firm, now offering deep cold storage to investors and traders for cryptocurrencies under its “Crypto trading license.” Source.
02.01.2017

On January 1, 2017, the Central Bank of the UAE issued a Regulatory Framework for Stored Values and Electronic Payment Systems, prohibiting “all Virtual Currencies (and any transactions thereof). The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has clarified its past statements about a prohibition on “virtual currencies”, confirming that rules released last month do not apply to bitcoin. Caution is advised until a formal statement is released by the Central Bank. Source.

United Kingdom*
*EU Member

Reportedly, exchanges do not have to register under money laundering regulations. Virtual currencies are taxed under goods and services taxes based on profits from a sale. The UK is planning stricter regulations on Bitcoin.

09.19.2018 The UK Parliament’s Treasury Committee issued a report in which they recommended regulation of the crypto-asset market. The report concluded that “Crypto-assets have no inherent value,” and that their volatility poses risks for inexperienced investors. The Committee found that self-regulating bodies within the crypto industry are insufficient to protect investors, concluding that the Financial Conduct Authority should serve as the lead regulatory body to, at a minimum, addresses consumer protections and anti-money laundering concerns. Source.
08.07.2018 The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced the creation of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). GFIN is a collaborative effort with twelve financial regulators from around the world to create a network that will provide an efficient way for FinTech firms to interact with and navigate financial regulators while building new and innovative ideas. Source.
06.11.2018 The two leading United Kingdom financial regulators each issued “Dear CEO” letters on the topic of crypto-assets. On June 28, the Bank of England Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) followed up a June 11 letter by the FCA on the risks and obligations of providing services to clients relating to crypto-assets. Primary Source. Secondary Source.
04.06.2018 The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a financial regulatory body in the UK, announced on April 6 that companies offering cryptocurrency derivatives would likely require authorization from the FCA. Any company seeking to offer cryptocurrency derivatives would need to comply with applicable FCA rules and EU regulations. The FCA does not currently regulate cryptocurrencies unless they are part of other regulated products or services; however, cryptocurrency derivatives could be considered financial instruments under the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II). According to the FCA statement, activities that will likely require FCA authorization include cryptocurrency futures, cryptocurrency contracts for differences, and cryptocurrency options. Source.
11.14.2017

The Financial Conduct Authority in the UK published a warning to consumers about the risks of investing in cryptocurrency contracts-for-differences. The risks include (1) price volatility; (2) leverage, potential multiplying the losses of the investor; (3) fees); and (4) lack of price transparency. Investors are protected by FCA regulation, which required that firms offering CFDs be authorized and supervised by the FCA; individual complaints can be referred to the FCA’s ombudsman; and eligible consumers have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Source.

10.27.2017 The UK Parliament is discussing amendments to the European Union’s current Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which would include cryptocurrency. The proposed amendments would bring digital currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers under the purview of existing legislation. Discussions for amendments are expected to run through the end of 2017/early 2018. Source.
07.25.2017 The London Stock Exchange announced its partnership with IBM to adopt a blockchain model to digitize securities certificate data. Small private European companies will be able to interact with shareholders and vice versa. Source.
04.17.2017

The Governor of the Bank of England stated that the fintech sector did not need the same level of regulations as banks. Britain has seen a large boom of business from fintech firms, which employ more than 60,000 people there and is a business worth nearly 7 billion pounds (for companies providing services like contactless payments, banking apps and online crowd sourcing). Source.

12.02.2016

The UK’s government-owned Royal Mint plans to use blockchain technology to operate a new gold-trading system. The Royal Mint is working to put $1 billion worth of gold on a blockchain sometime next year to allow customers to own and trade fractions of gold, stored in the Royal Mint’s vaults, using a digital token called Royal Mint Gold (RMG). Each RMG holds the value of one gram of gold. Source.

10.14.2016

Light touch regulation of virtual currency exchanges have come into effect on the autonomous island of Jersey in the UK. The new laws make virtual currency exchange a supervised business and require exchange businesses with an annual turnover threshold of £150,000 or more to register with the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC). Digital currency service providers will be sanctioned if they fail to register within three months of crossing that threshold. Source.

04.29.2016

The UK Treasury published a report last week describing the government’s plans to stop money laundering and terrorist financing risks. As part of the plans, the government will implement AML regulation. However, it will not seek to impose these AML regulations on virtual currency wallet providers. Source.

10.2015

The UK Treasury published a risk assessment in October 2015 of money laundering and terrorist financing. According to the report, the majority of the illicit transactions involving virtual currencies involve online markets and the sale and purchase of controlled substances and firearms, rather than terrorism and money laundering. The report noted that “[t]here is little evidence to indicate that the use of digital currencies has been incorporated into established money laundering techniques […] [and] little evidence to indicate that the use of digital currencies has been adopted by criminals involved in terrorist financing.” Source.

03.2015

In a Treasury report released in late March, the UK Government announced plans to regulate bitcoin exchanges with anti-money laundering regulations, while at the same time committing significant funds to research and study of Bitcoin technology. Source.

09.01.2014

Bank of England issued a report assessing the macroeconomic effects of digital currencies. The report concludes that digital currencies do not currently pose a material risk to monetary or financial stability in the U.K. Source no longer available.

01.13.2014

HMRC reportedly considering categorizing virtual currencies as a “private currency,” which would eliminate profits taxes. Source.

07.08.2013

HMRC reportedly wrote to FYB-UK that there is no requirement for an exchange to register under UK money laundering regulations. Source.

06.19.2013

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) says that digital currencies are covered by the UK tax system and, when used to pay someone for goods and services, the profits are taxable. Source.

United States

Please refer to the Perkins Coie Virtual Currency Report for analysis of U.S. law.

 

Source.

Uzbekistan  N/A  07.03.2018  The President of Uzbekistan has allegedly signed a decree on the development and integration of blockchain technology, cryptoassets, and crypto mining intended to advance ‘digital economics’ in the country. Source.

Venezuela 

Venezuela has a government-run cryptocurrency, backed by oil assets, called the Petro. 

10.05.2018 Venezuelan citizens must now pay for new passports using the country’s oil- and mineral-backed cryptoasset, the Petro. Each passport costs 2 Petros, which is four times the country’s monthly minimum wage. Source.
02.20.2018

Venezuela launched its government-backed “Petro,” which had been planned since late 2017. Each token will be backed by, and valued at the price of, a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil, according to President Maduro. The official website for the Petro published guidelines for how to set up a virtual Petro wallet, but no information was provided on exchanges supporting the currency. President Maduro indicated that a private sale will be held to attract investment from international investors.

The launch follows a declaration by Venezuela’s opposition-led parliament in January 2018 that the Petro is illegal, in that it violates constitutional requirements that the legislature approve any borrowing measures. The opposition party also attacks the Petro as an effort by President Maduro to mortgage the country’s oil and will attract corruption. Source.

12.03.2017

Venezuela has plans to launch its own digital currency, the “petro”, backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves. President Nicolas Maduro announced the launch, which he said would Help Venezuela advance its sovereignty and overcome the burdens of global economic sanctions. Primary Source. Secondary Source. 

09.03.2017

Venezuelan authorities have been cracking down on cryptocurrency mining in the last few months, as a result of mining operations using excessive electricity. Hyperinflation in Venezuela since 2012 has made cryptocurrency mining very lucrative not just for larger operations, but individuals struggling to support themselves and their families. However, the government carefully monitors the use of electricity, which is subsidized in Venezuela, and has arrested people suspected of using too much. Source.

Vietnam Virtual currencies are neither money nor legal tender in Vietnam; and the State Bank of Vietnam has issued a ban on cryptocurrencies and conducting most vitual currency business activities. 07.26.2018 Vietnam’s State Securities Commission (Commission), the country’s financial security regulatory body, announced that it would not allow many companies and businesses to engage in virtual currency business activity. The Commission banned public companies, investment advisors and fund management companies from using or investing in any virtual currency. Source.
07.19.2018 The Vietnamese Central Bank has agreed to suspend the import of cryptocurrency mining hardware. Source.
04.13.2018 Following a crypto fraud resulting in the loss of 15 trillion Vietnamese dong ($658 million), the Vietnamese government issued a directive to six government ministries, in addition to financial institutions including Vietnam’s central bank, to tighten oversight and management of cryptocurrency activities within the country. The prime minister of Vietnam reiterated in a separate statement that transacting in cryptocurrencies remains illegal in Vietnam. Primary SourceSecondary Source.
10.28.2017 The State Bank of Vietnam, Vietnam’s central bank, has issued a ban on the use of digital currencies, which is scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of 2018. The only authorized payment methods are those issued or controlled by the State Bank. The ban will not affect individuals who transact using cryptocurrencies, but will only impact centralized companies. Companies running afoul of the law will be fined. Source.
02.27.2014

State Bank of Vietnam recommends not investing in, holding, or transacting in virtual currencies because of harm and risks of use for criminal purposes, lack of technical security and vulnerability to hacking, price volatility, and lack of a central government authority. It also determined that virtual currencies are not money nor are they a form of legal payment in Vietnam. Source.

Zimbabwe

Banks in Zimbabwe are banned from providing banking services to anyone dealing with or settling virtual currencies.

05.14.2018

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the country’s central bank) has directed all banks to refrain from providing banking services to anyone dealing with or settling virtual currencies, citing fears of money laundering and other criminal activity. Cryptocurrency exchanges are not affected by the ban for now. The ban is not expected to hinder peer-to-peer transactions; merely settling between banks. Source.