The legal status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies differs substantially from country to country, while in some, the status remains undefined or is constantly changing. As more people turn to cryptos as an investment, there are issues manifest as an array of restrictions on their usage.
While in the majority of countries, Bitcoin is not illegal, its status as a means of payment or a commodity might vary, depends on regulatory implications. Some countries have limited the way Bitcoin can be used, with banks banning its customers from making cryptocurrency transactions. Other countries have banned the whole use of Bitcoin and making crypto transactions.
Euronews has compiled a list of countries with a particularly difficult attitude toward Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies:
Algeria currently prohibits the use of cryptocurrency following the passing of financial law in 2018 that made it illegal to buy, sell, use or hold virtual currencies.
Since 2014, Bitcoin usage in Bolivia has been completely banned. The Bolivian Central Bank issued a resolution banning it and any other currency not regulated by a country or economic zone.
China has cracked down on cryptocurrencies with increasing intensity throughout 2021. Chinese officials have repeatedly issued warnings to its people to stay clear of the digital asset market and have clamped down hard on mining in the country as well as currency exchanges in China and overseas.
On August 27, Yin Youping, the Deputy Director of the Financial Consumer Rights Protection Bureau of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), referred to cryptos as speculative assets and warned people to “protect their pockets.”
Efforts to undermine Bitcoin – a decentralized currency outside the control of governments and institutions – are largely seen as an attempt by the Chinese authorities to float their own e-currency (CBDC).
The PBoC is looking to be one of the first major central banks in the world to launch its own digital currency. And by doing so, it would be able to more closely monitor the transactions of people in China.
In Colombia, financial institutions are not allowed to facilitate Bitcoin transactions. The Superintendencia Financiera warned financial institutions in 2014 that they may not “protect, invest, broker, or manage virtual money operations.”
Egyptian Dar al-Ifta, the country’s primary Islamic advisory body, issued a religious decree in 2018, classifying Bitcoin transactions as “haram,” something prohibited under Islamic law. Egypt’s banking laws were tightened in September 2020 to prevent trading or promoting cryptos without a Central Bank license.
Indonesian central bank issued new regulations banning the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a means of payment from 1 January 2018.
The Iranian regime has turned to the lucrative practice of Bitcoin mining to finance imports to evade the worst impact of crippling economic sanctions. While the Central Bank prohibits the trading of cryptocurrencies mined overseas, it has encouraged Bitcoin mining in the country with incentives.
Around 4.5% of the world’s Bitcoin mining takes place in Iran, which, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, could account for revenues of over $1 billion (€843 million). For the crypto industry to flourish, Iran has offered licensed miners cheap energy but requires all mined cryptos to be sold to the Central Bank.
However, unlicensed mining drains more than 2GW from the national grid every day, causing power shortages. To this end, Iranian authorities issued a four-month ban on Bitcoin mining until September 22.
The Nepal Rastra Bank declared Bitcoin illegal as of August 2017.
North Macedonia is the only European country so far to have an official ban on cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others, in place.
While cryptocurrency isn’t outlawed in Russia, there is an ongoing conflict being waged against its use.
Russia passed its first laws to regulate cryptos in July 2020, which for the first time designated cryptocurrency as property liable to taxation. The law, which came into force in January this year, also bans Russian civil servants from owning any crypto assets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly linked cryptocurrency with criminal activity, calling for closer attention to cross-border crypto transactions in particular.
In July 2021, the prosecutor general announced new proposed legislation, which would allow police to confiscate cryptos deemed to be illegally obtained, citing its use in bribery.
After the Turkish lira plummeted in value, many in Turkey turned to cryptocurrency. With some of the highest levels of use anywhere in the world, the arrival of regulations was swift this year as inflation peaked in April.
On 16 April 2021, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey issued a regulation banning the use of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, directly or indirectly, to pay for goods and services. The following day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went further and issued a decree that crypto exchanges to a list of firms subject to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing rules.
The State Bank of Vietnam has declared that the issuance, supply, and use of Bitcoin and other cryptos are illegal as a means of payment and are subject to punishment of fines ranging from 150 million VND to 200 million VND ($6,700 .. $9,000). Although, the government doesn’t ban Bitcoin trading or holding them as assets.