Middle East and Crypto: The Review #1
Middle East countries are moving ahead of when it comes to regulating cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency website CoinTelegraph has put together a series of Middle East countries as they gave a very good information about the regulations here. Like anywhere in the world, Middle East countries like Bahrain are showing a strong interest towards crypto and Blockchain, so let’s see how are the things going in these countries.
Bahrain is taking a positive approach towards cryptocurrency and Blockchain. Recent reports suggested the country has stepped up in their efforts to regulate the sector as Bahrain government official quoted with saying:
As of now, we recognize cryptocurrency as a commodity that can be traded in the exchanges. We are not considering it as a legal tender in any form.
Also for Blockchain, Abdulhussain Mirza, Bahrain’s minister of electricity and water affairs, confirmed the government’s commitment to supporting the technology as he spoke in a meeting recently:
Technologies such as blockchain take us a huge step forward in finding a secure way to facilitate transactions… Blockchain’s ability to protect user’s data is a true mark of progress, especially due to the fact that it can be applied in different companies from different industries including cyber security.
According to recent ING report, 18 percent of Turkish people own cryptocurrencies compared to eight in the United States. After the rising inflation of Turkish Lira, the Bitcoin trade volumes on the local changes rose strongly and this is also one of the indicators about Turkish affinity towards Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Towards Blockchain, Turkey is going strong. They recently opened their first Blockchain center which was inaugurated at Bahçeşehir University. Also, Turkey’s Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST) developed a Blockchain powered consumer database to improve efficiency.
Crypto’s are unfortunately not allowed in Qatar. Qatar Central Bank published a statement in February this year as they warned the people in the country that Bitcoin trader is illegal and they also stated that the people who fail to comply this rules, will face penalties.
Qatar Central Bank argued that because of cryptocurrencies have no commitment from any central bank or government they are not viable for the public trade. QCB also said the volatility of Bitcoin and the security issues are concerning.
But for Blockchain, the country has other ideas. During January 2018, a local fintech company QPAY’s CEO Ben Aissa declared that Blockchain will drove Qatar to the 2030 targets. He said:
As an active member of Qatar’s digital and cashless initiatives, and aligned with the National Vision 2030, we see blockchain as a key ingredient in taking leadership in Qatari digital revolution and financial services innovation.
In Saudi Arabia, cryptocurrencies are deemed illegal. Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) officially warned citizens against trading crypto’s as they stated:
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 warns all citizens and residents about drifting after such illusion and get-rich scheme due to the high regulatory, security and market risks involved, not to mention signing of fictitious contracts and the transfer of funds to unknown recipients/entities/parties.
Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia also entertained by the idea of Blockchain technology. The countries rulers see Blockchain as an integral part of their long-term economic development and the research about Blockchain and other emerging technologies has been on the agenda for a very long period of time.
Iran currently not having the best of times, economically. The country pressed by economic sanctions imposed by Donald Trump, and they are slowly but surely turned their attentions to cryptocurrencies. After the Riyal experienced record losses in value, the Iranian citizens also turned to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a store of value.
Currently, the crypto are not legal in Iran. Despite that, the country working on possibilities to launch a national cryptocurrency to dodge US sanctions, similarly to Venezuela. Deputy for management and investment at the Directorate for Scientific and Technological Affairs Alireza Daliri has spoken in July about crypto as he said:
We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country. This currency would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world. Besides, it can help us at the time of sanctions.
Iran government also aware of the potential positive effects of Blockchain technology. For example, Iran’s National Library looking to use Blockchain to digitize the country’s archives.
Bitcoin also prohibited in Iraq. Due to concerns about fraud and other risks, Central Bank of Iran decided to ban cryptocurrencies altogether.