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Bitcoin is Still Illegal in These 6 Countries

· May 18, 2017 · 9:30 am

As the Bitcoin revolution continues to spread throughout the world, there are still some places where buying or using Bitcoin is illegal and can get you in trouble.


Bitcoin Still Illegal in Some Countries

As Bitcoin’s popularity continues to grow throughout the world, some governments are beginning to realize its benefits and potential and are integrating Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in their economy, rather than trying to punish those that use it with restrictive policies and exaggerated taxes.

Japan, for example, has recently passed a law that makes Bitcoin a legal form of online payment, removing taxes and setting up a regulatory framework for Bitcoin-based businesses. Australia has also taken a stance in favor of cryptocurrencies and removed the double-tax that was penalizing average Bitcoin users.

However, not all countries are as forward thinking especially when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Believe it or not, Bitcoin is still illegal in some countries, which says a lot about Bitcoin as a disruptive technology.

To be clear though, the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency is not illegal because it poses any risk to the citizens of the countries we will list. Rather, it provides an alternative, open, P2P monetary system — and an exit for some  — which is seen as a threat to their centrally-controlled, legacy monetary system.

All of the countries listed below banned Bitcoin in 2014, following the Mt. Gox disaster. As Bitcoin begins to gain traction throughout the world, it’s possible that these countries may eventually change their stance on Bitcoin and digital currencies.

Vietnam

Although Bitcoin can be freely used by citizens, the State Bank of Vietnam issued a statement in February 2014 warning against the use of Bitcoin and prohibiting credit institutions to deal with the cryptocurrency.

The statement reads:

All bitcoin exchanges that allow users to trade anonymously, therefore, can be used to launder dirty money, sell drugs, hide from paying taxes, exchange and pay for illegal activities.

In December 2016, the government of Vietnam stated that it will consolidate cryptocurrency regulations as its current provisions “fall short.”

Iceland

Bitcoin’s legality in Iceland is not very clear. According to a statement issued in March 2014 by the Central Bank of Iceland, dealing with Bitcoin may violate the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act, which specifies that Icelandic currency cannot leave the country and that foreign currency cannot be used in the country.

iceland

Bitcoin mining is legal in the country and so is transacting with Bitcoin, but apparently if those Bitcoins cannot be purchased from a foreign exchange or have to be mined in Iceland. This leaves a lot of room for questions. The statement reads:

There is no authorization to purchase foreign currency from financial institutions in Iceland or to transfer foreign currency across borders on the basis of transactions with virtual currency. For this reason alone, transactions with virtual currency are subject to restrictions in Iceland.

Bolivia

In May 2014, the country’s central bank, El Banco Central de Bolivia, officially banned any and all currencies not issued and/or regulated by the government, specifying Bitcoin, a few other altcoins and any other currencies that do not belong to a state or economic zone.

The statement reads:

It is illegal to use any kind of currency that is not issued and controlled by a government or an authorized entity.

Ecuador

Ecuador not only banned Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies, but it did so while establishing guidelines for the creation of their own virtual currency.

The National Assembly of Ecuador passed a bill that amends the country’s monetary laws in July 2014, banning cryptocurrencies and allowing the government to issue and transact in its asset-backed “electronic money.”

Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, using Bitcoin as a form of payment is illegal, although no law prohibits users from buying, selling and using. In August 2014, the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, issued a statement in which it noted that the use of Bitcoin and other cryptos as a form of payment is illegal given that the only legal tender in the country is the country’s Kyrgystani Som (KGS).

The statement reads:

Under the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, the sole legal tender on the territory of our country is the national currency of Kyrgyzstan som. The use of ‘virtual currency’, bitcoins, in particular, as a means of payment in the Kyrgyz Republic, will be a violation of the law of our state.

Bangladesh

Bitcoin is not legal in Bangladesh. Transacting with any type of decentralized cryptocurrency can get you up to 12 years in jail and it has been so for almost three years.

In September 2014, the Bangladesh Bank issued a statement regarding the use of Bitcoin and warning that it is punishable by law. Bank officials said that anyone found guilty of dealing with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency could be jailed for up to 12 years under current anti-money laundering laws. The central bank went as far as to request citizens not to “spread information about it.”

The statement reads:

Bitcoin is not a legal tender of any country. Any transaction through bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is a punishable offense.

Do you believe these countries will change their stance on Bitcoin and build a regulatory framework around it? Let us know in the comments.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Bitcoin-Friendly Pirate Party May Win Iceland Elections Saturday

Source: bitcoin

Iceland Pirate Party

Iceland’s Pirate Party, part of a worldwide movement representing hackers, anarchists and Bitcoin enthusiasts, could possibly lead the country’s next government after Saturday. Current opinion polls have it ahead of any other party.

Also read: Only Permissioned Blockchains Can Transform Finance, Says Chain’s Ludwin

Although eight parties appear on the polling chart, under a parliamentary system it’s usually the largest party that has the opportunity to form a government first. Unlike the U.S. and U.K., it’s not winner-take-all. Iceland elects its parliament proportionally, meaning the legislature may look exactly like this pie chart soon.

Early Election Due to Political, Economic Turmoil

Iceland votes in an early election on October 29. All 63 seats in the national parliament, the Althing, are up for grabs and the winner needs 32 seats for a majority.

The election is happening six months ahead of schedule. They follow mass protests in April that saw prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resign after becoming embroiled in the “Panama Papers” scandal.

Iceland’s Pirate Party bases its ideology on the original Swedish party of the same name. Many other countries also have local branches. The Swedish Pirate Party’s founder Richard Falkvinge is a well-known and fierce Bitcoin advocate.

Bitcoin-Friendly, But Let’s See

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

While some proclaim Iceland’s party plans to make bitcoin an official national currency, this is probably too optimistic. The party does not mention bitcoin on its website, though there are a few cases of party officials speaking in Bitcoin’s favor.

However leader Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a prominent digital-rights activist, said she was inspired by fellow activist John Perry Barlow‘s wish to turn Iceland into “a Switzerland of bits“. This refers to a haven for all kinds of data, which no doubt includes Bitcoin on some level.

Previously a minor party, the Icelandic Pirate Party currently only has three seats in the national legislature. To go from there to a leading position in opinion polls suggests a volcanic shift in political sentiment.

2016 a Bad Year for Political Establishment

Perhaps this shift is happening worldwide, not just in Iceland.

So far, 2016 has been a bad year to be an Establishment politician. Financial scandals and economic disillusion saw formerly dominant political parties fall in important elections across the Western world.

While most eyes are on the upcoming U.S. election, Europe has already borne the anti-mainstream brunt most. Countries like Greece, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Netherlands have all seen populist movements from across the political spectrum capture public attention — and votes.

Parties with long histories can no longer rely on majorities to hold their noses and vote for them come election day.

Iceland and Bitcoin

Like many countries, Iceland has a colorful history with its financial industry, and with Bitcoin. Previously a financial services center serving offshore customers in the U.K. and Europe, its banks and currency collapsed in 2008 as part of the Global Financial Crisis. Given that financial services controlled assets worth 10 times Iceland’s GDP at the time, this caused great economic and political upheaval. The people have maintained an often-hostile mistrust of bankers ever since.

Iceland’s Central Bank has previously stated that “to engage in foreign exchange trading with the electronic currency bitcoin” is prohibited. However to date there’s no record of anyone being arrested or punished for doing so.

On the contrary, Iceland is popular with Bitcoin mining facilities due to its frigid climate, which cuts cooling expenses.

Whether the Pirate Party wins government or not, it looks set to have a much more powerful voice in the future. Expect Bitcoin to at least be a major discussion topic there in the coming years.

Would you vote for the Pirate Party, whether it made any Bitcoin promises or not? Let’s hear your thoughts.


Images via Pirate Party, Wikimedia Commons

The post Bitcoin-Friendly Pirate Party May Win Iceland Elections Saturday appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Bitcoin-Friendly Pirate Party May Win Iceland Elections Saturday

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