Cryptocurrency is losing its techno-geek status and going mainstream. With that increased acceptance comes a hefty dose of government scrutiny. Here’s a roundup of the latest government initiatives concerning cryptocurrency from around the globe.
- South Korea – South Korea, formerly a vehement opponent of cryptocurrencies, has somewhat softened its view. Though the status of initial coin offerings in the country remains contentious (and they are ostensibly banned), lawmakers appear to be caving in to popular demand. And what a tidal wave of demand it is – Korea’s crypto prices are consistently higher than the rest of the world, and only the U.S. dollar is more widely used in the cryptocurrency world than the Korean won.
- Indonesia – Indonesia has abandoned its general crackdown on cryptocurrencies and given them quasi-legal status in the country, but with an important catch – henceforth, the government will regulate and tax cryptocurrencies as commodities rather than securities or foreign currencies. This means much heavier government involvement than normal, particularly in the money-laundering and anti-terrorism arenas.
- The Marshall Islands – This tiny nation in the Pacific has a population of about 54,000, but it’s generating big headlines in the cryptoworld. The Marshall Islands have shed the U.S. dollar and introduced its own national cryptocurrency, the Sovereign. Due to the limited size of the nation’s economy, the introduction is unlikely to move many needles on the world’s crypto scales, but it signals an important shift in both mentality and adoption. The nation’s experiment proves that cryptocurrency is legitimate enough for national-level acceptance, and it provides a lab for widespread and exclusive use in a national format.
- Thailand – Thailand has concurrently reversed its initial coin offering ban and introduced a host of new regulatory measures. This is being hailed as a step in the right direction by crypto watchers, as Thailand’s move toward regulation acknowledges that crypto is here to stay. At the same time, the regulations provide important safeguards in the oft-volatile Asian market, aimed at protecting investors.
- Iceland – Iceland has an odd relationship with cryptocurrency. Due to its relatively cheap electricity and cool temperatures, it’s a popular destination for big mining projects for Bitcoin and Ethereum. Yet the use of cryptocurrencies remains ostensibly illegal in the country, although purportedly a relatively large black market for the currencies exists in little hole-in-the-wall shops and pubs. The Icelandic Legislature worries about the small nation’s wealth effectively leaving the country via cryptocurrency channels, although there is some pressure to adapt the laws to dovetail the country’s mining interests. As of now, however, the unofficial altcoin of Iceland – Auroracoin – remains at best controversial and at worst illegal.
- US – The elephant in the crypto room, the US is still untangling a mess of regulatory and tax positions on cryptocurrency. The US Securities and Exchange Commission appears to be heading in the direction of judging each cryptocurrency on its own merit when it comes to deciding securities status, while the Internal Revenue Service is treating cryptocurrencies as an asset subject to capital gains tax, as opposed to foreign currency conversions. All crypto prices worldwide recently tumbled on the news that the U.S. would be investigating four major exchanges for possible price manipulation.