Qatar Financial Center (QFC) has banned the trading and storage of digital currencies and related assets within the country. The drastic move comes at a time a number of Middle East countries have resorted to virtual currencies to boost their economies and integrate to the digital world.
Qatar bans crypto
Reports from the top financial regulator in Qatar, the Qatari Financial Center (QFC) Regulatory Authority, confirms a ban on any virtual currencies related services (including trading and custody) in the country on Friday. The ban comes in the midst of the recent Middle East tensions arising from the Iran-US conflict. The statement read,
“Virtual Asset Services may not be conducted in or from the QFC at this time”.
The statement defines a virtual asset as “anything of value that acts as a substitute for currency that can be digitally traded or transferred and can be used for payment or investment purposes.” This places any cryptocurrency in the bracket including Bitcoin, stablecoins and any digitally transferred crypto asset in Qatar.
Cryptocurrency services banned in Qatar includes exchange for virtual assets for fiat, crypto to crypto trading, custodial services for these assets and “participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and/or sale of a virtual asset.” No concrete reason has been offered by the financial regulator.
This however is not the first time for the Qatar government to speak against crypto assets as the Central Bank released a warning for investors to stay away from the “volatile, money laundering and terrorism financing” crypto assets.
A crypto ecosystem in the Middle East
The recent ban of crypto related services in Qatar comes at a time a number of countries in the region have resorted to these virtual assets, Iran being the latest to follow the trend. The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, recently called for Muslim states in the region to create their own digital currency to end the USD dominance. He said,
“The Muslim world should be designing measures to save themselves from the domination of the United States dollar and the American financial regime.”
Notwithstanding, a number of countries in the region are moving towards the digital currency space with the goal to create a hub similar to the Mediterranean islands. Bahrain recently announced plans to set up favorable regulations in the country to boost crypto investment in the country.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a possible launch of a national digital currency in the second half of 2019 with Dubai targeting to be the first blockchain powered city in 2020. Furthermore, a number of crypto exchanges including a state-owned company investment, MidChain, opened its doors to virtual assets trading.
We are awaiting official reports and we will publish the report as soon as we get the reasons of banning crypto in Qatar from the QFC.