Qatar, the Middle East country with a population of over 2.5 million, has banned cryptocurrency trading.
According to a statement shared with The Block by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Regulatory Authority, the regulator has said that “Virtual Asset Services may not be conducted in or from the QFC at this time."
The services include fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto trading, custody, and financial services related to virtual assets, per the statement.
Specifically, the regulator has said that the ban includes "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."
The move has been taken "in accordance with QFC Law No. 7 of 2005 and the Financial Services Regulations (FSR)," said the authority, adding that "all Authorised Firms (as defined in the FSR) are not currently permitted to provide and/or facilitate the provision of Virtual Asset Services or otherwise exchange, trade or deal in Virtual Assets, until further notice."
There will be penalties in case of any violation of the law, said the QCFRA.
In 2018, Qatar’s central bank also said that bitcoin trading in illegal in the country. “This cryptocurrency is highly volatile and can be used for financial crimes and electronic hacking as well as risk loss of value because there are no guarantors or assets,” it said at the time.
UPDATE (Jan. 7): This story has been updated to include comments from the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority