06 January, 2020 | AtoZ Markets – The Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) has announced that virtual asset services may not be performed in or from the Qatar Financial Center (QFC).
Qatar Bans Virtual Asset Services and Cryptocurrency Trading
QFCRA announced the new measures in a tweet posted on 26 December. It stated that authorized firms were not allowed to provide or facilitate the provision or exchange of cryptographic assets and related services until further notice.
The QFC Regulatory Authority affirms that Virtual Asset Services may not be conducted in or from the QFC. pic.twitter.com/zBamUzrNi8— Regulatory Authority (@QFCRA) December 26, 2019
Furthermore, according to a report from the International Investment news outlet, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Regulatory Authority said:
“Virtual asset services may not be provided in or from QFC at the moment. Services include fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading, custody and financial services related to virtual assets.”
Specifically, the regulator has stated that the ban includes anything that has value and acts as a substitute for currency. People can digitally trade or transfer it and can use it for payment or investment. The QFCRA warns:
“The regulatory authority imposes sanctions under its rights and obligations in the event of a violation of the undertaking of activities. That is not permitted in the QFC.”
Read More: Bitcoin SegWit Adoption Touches 66% After BitMEX Upgrade
Qatar has Adopted New AML and CFT Norms
A local media Al-Watan reported that the country has just adopted new standards for fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorism. However, Qatari central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani commented:
“The State of Qatar asserts that the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism requires a strict and effective regulatory and legislative framework. Moreover, in that, the powers and responsibilities of the government agencies and ministries concerned define in the fight against the financing of terrorism and money laundering“.
It is unclear why the QFCRA made this decision. In 2018, the central bank of Qatar declared that bitcoin trading was illegal in the country. It also said at the time:
“This cryptocurrency is very volatile. And people can use it for financial crimes and hacking. It has also risk losing value because there are no guarantors or assets”.
A crypto ecosystem in the Middle East
The recent crypto ban in Qatar comes at a time a number of countries in the region have resorted to these virtual assets. Iran is the latest to follow the trend. As AtoZMarkets earlier reported, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani has called for Muslim countries to create their own digital currency. This will put an end to the U.S dollar dominance.
Notwithstanding, a number of countries in the region are moving towards the digital currency space. The goal is 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.
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