Middle East And Crypto: The Review #2
Today, we’ll continue to travel through to the Middle East and see what’s the situation there in terms of cryptocurrencies. If you missed our first review, please visit here:
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are banned in the country. Back in December, the monetary authority of Kuwait declared that they don’t recognize cryptocurrencies and all financial institutions including banks, are prohibited from dealing with them.
Sources from the Ministry of Finance stated earlier that they can’t regulate Bitcoin and therefore, all the money coming into the country with the form of Bitcoin, is illegal. Many suggested Kuwait playing it safe because of the money laundering and many other criminal cases which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies linked heavily.
For Blockchain, things are looking a bit different. During this May, the Kuwait Finance House joined RippleNet and in their statement, they stated that they are going to use Ripple’s ‘unique tool’ for their retail customers.
With this, KFH can provide instant and secure cross-border money transfers within seconds, with end-to-end visibility over the journey of the payment.
United Arab Emirates
UAE are working extremely hard to regulate cryptocurrencies as they are seeing ICO’s as securities. During last October, they published their first regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and ICO’s as they are looking to take control of what’s happening.
UAE looking to protect its citizens from scam ICO’s and many other unpromising projects. They warned investors repeatedly about the risks of ICO’s as they also issued a public warning recently against to use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering.
The country experimenting heavily with Blockchain as they are looking to make Dubai the first Blockchain powered city by 2020. UAE also looking to use Blockchain in their government as they are trying to become the world’s first Blockchain-powered government. They are also working closely with computing giant IBM to make their business more effective.
According to the rules of Sharia, Bitcoin is banned in Egypt. Back in January, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam issued a fatwa arguing that crypto trading leads its users to fraud, betrayal and ignorance.
The country’s government are also against cryptocurrencies either but they haven’t outlawed them as of yet. They warned their citizens about cryptocurrencies and also stated risks of investing in the ICO’s.
For Blockchain, the country opened their first blockchain focused incubator, NU TechSpace. The complex reportedly teamed up with IBM and Novelari to stimulate blockchain backed business models.
For now, no definite regulatory frameworks have been introduced by Cyprus. They previously stated Bitcoin is no illegal but in the same time, it’s also very hard to control or regulate.
In July 2018, the famous Bitcoin Cash member Roger Ver met with Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades. Ver claimed he talked with the president about the usage of cryptocurrencies and its adoption across the island. Many hoping Cyprus might become a hub for Blockchain and crypto startups in the future, similarly to Malta.
For Blockchain, University of Nicosia received a contribution from Ripple. The university looking to become the world’s first university to accept Bitcoin as a payment method. They are also working very hard to teach Blockchain to its students as they are thinking Cyprus might well move ahead in the next 20 years with the help of Blockchain and other emerging technologies.
Israel is close to complete their regulatory business towards cryptocurrencies. Israel Tax Authority stated that cryptocurrencies will be taxed by the capital gains as properties instead of currencies. The country is very good when it comes to blockchain based startups. Czech investment Bank Benson Oak had plans to pump around $100m to the Israeli startups, with an emphasis of Blockchain and that news welcomed by Israeli authorities.
Bitcoin trading is banned in Jordan since 2014. Central Bank of Jordan repeatedly stated that virtual currencies are not legal and ordered banks to prohibit from dealing with them.
Building Blocks, a refugee camp that works on Blockchain is currently alive in Jordan. They are looking to distribute foods to over 100,000 Syrian refugees as the United Nations also watching closely what they are doing right now.
There’s no definitive approach towards cryptocurrencies in Oman right now. In December 2017, Central Bank of Oman cautioned the citizens that they have no responsibility if any people experienced losses on cryptocurrencies. There are no policies and frameworks towards Crypto right now.
The country has been showing a strong interest towards Blockchain. For example, in May, they revealed their plans to build a Blockchain platform that will work together with Omar Banks association.
In May 2017, Palesitne officials declared they have plans to launch national cryptocurrency. ‘Palestinian pound’ which will likely to completed in 5 years, will try to shield Palestine from potential Israeli intrusion, the officials stated.
Head of Palestine Monetary Authority, Azzam Shawwa said:
“If we print currency, to get it into the country you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle. So that is why we don’t want to go into it.”
In December 2013, Lebanon became the first middle east country to issue a warning regarding cryptocurrencies. They cited volatility, AML and KYC as their primary concerns. Fast forward to October 2017, central bank’s president Riad Salameh said BTC and other virtual currencies are unregulated and the people who’re interested in them, need to be cautious.