It’s a good seven months before the world celebrates the first decade of Bitcoin, our very first cryptocurrency, and that which opened the eyes of skeptics and enthusiasts alike to the truth that in a blink of an eye, everything that we see could change.
A good number of powerful people and institutions have been reluctant at best, and hostile at worst to blockchain in general. But almost too occasionally, we see slivers of hope from resistant countries that are beginning to loosen up on their crypto policies.
So where does blockchain and cryptocurrency stand right now in terms of legal and economic aspects?
The US, considered by many as the most influential country in the world, remains cautious in adopting the technology, with prominent figures speaking out against crypto. Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon have been outspoken in their disapproval, with the former calling Bitcoin a “probably rat poison squared” concept. However, US President Donald Trump has not released definitive statements regarding his position on the matter. Recently, he signed the controversial CLOUD Act which caused many crypto enthusiasts to cry foul for its perceived threat to cybersecurity of both individuals and organizations.
Furthermore, notable American banking institutions have prohibited the use of credit card for purchasing cryptocurrencies. Some of these are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P Morgan Chase, and Citigroup.
Canada takes a similar stand wherein crypto trading is also considered illegal in the country. Its Toronto-Dominion Bank also banned credit card usage for buying cryptos.
However, North Americans cannot deny their need for integrating blockchain into their systems. Recently, WENN Digital partnered with Oak View Group to create KODAKOne, a sports photography platform wherein anyone can upload their photos on the site and get paid via KODAKCoin.
Contrary to the North, some South American countries appear to be more lenient toward their crypto policies. One sterling example is Venezuela and its stablecoin Petro.
Nothing can beat Venezuela in terms of being the most miserable economy. It has the highest inflation rate, and despite the facade of resignation, the country’s innards are in panic and chaos. Many have resorted to mining cryptocurrencies. Recently, the government made its own cryptocurrency appropriately named Petro — each Petro represents a barrel of oil, which is the country’s top resource. Even though the country is still fumbling for ways to curb itself from hyperinflation, but Petro’s creation proves that the country will do whatever it takes to curb the hyperinflation.
Brazil has made interesting news: two major passenger bus companies have begun to accept Bitcoin as payment means, with Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash to be added soon. In Argentina, two non-profit organizations have taken it upon themselves to ‘evangelize’ the entirety of the country with cryptos and blockchain; they even intend to cover the entire continent once their Argentinian campaign proves successful.
Finally, Colombian Senator Antonio Navarro Wolff argued in a Senate debate that “blockchain could change the lives of Colombians,” urging the country to explore the said technology so as to reap the benefits that it provides.
The continent is, by far, the top destination for crypto startups due to countries that provide fertile soil for their growth.
Topping the list is undoubtedly Malta, with the crypto community calling it the ‘hub’ of cryptocurrency for welcoming startups and blockchain empires alike. Many notable crypto platforms have opened their accounts on the country’s local banks.
Malta should not be too confident, however, since many European countries like Estonia and Switzerland are keen at contesting the title of becoming the crypto haven.
Furthermore, recent developments in Russia and Slovenia shows incredible promise, so much promise, that others may consider their set examples as a prototype of what the future might become. For instance, Slovenia is currently developing an entire shopping district dedicated solely to cryptocurrency. Appropriately named BTC City, the sprawling complex in Ljubljana has over 500 stores that will be accepting cryptocurrencies as payments. The country’s Prime Minister Miro Cerar even visited the complex and enjoyed a hot coffee bought exclusively through crypto.
Russia is different. President Vladimir Putin addressed crypto, even though his position remains unclear. But local villagers in Kolionovo have developed their own cryptocurrency as their chief payment method and wouldn’t accept fiat currency for services and products.
France seems different compared to its powerful contemporaries. Recently, cryptocurrency tax rates were slashed almost to 60%, suggesting that the country’s Finance Ministry head’s statement that the country will be declaring ‘full and resolute’ support for crypto is good as gold. As if this was not enough, the country also gave funding to promising tech startups through the French Tech Ticket. Many of the grantees were blockchain-oriented startups.
Finally, the UK has decided to explore blockchain technology in preserving authentic digital records. Through the British National Archives’ project named ARCHANGEL, the team has begun to initiate the creation of the blockchain prototype that will show the audit trail of the document’s edition’s extent. They even went so far as to promise that “no individual institution could attempt to rewrite history” once the project proves successful.
Among the Asian countries, Japan seems to lead the way in blockchain acceptance. The government considers cryptocurrency as a legal payment method, with the rest of the country following suit. Also, many crypto platforms exist in the country.
Following is the United Arab Emirates, with recent announcements of the Abu Dhabi Ports launching Silsal, a blockchain-based technology, and with Dubai’s local government expressing support for its recent project called the Digital Silk Road.
South Korea has recently declared Bitcoin to be a legitimate asset, and techno giants like Samsung and Kakao have begun to integrate blockchain technology into their processes. However, the country is still adamant in its refusal to make anonymous trading legal.
India expressed its openness to regulating cryptocurrencies, even though it has decided to block banks from dealing with cryptocurrency firms beginning this year.
Thailand shows more promise since it has recently released a regulatory framework covering ICOs, crypto trading pairs, as well as licensing fees for those operating in the country. Its very own Bank of Thailand even expressed its intent to use blockchain technology for its inter-bank clearance as well as its settlement system.
The country from Down Under wouldn’t let itself be the last to integrate blockchain, as Malcolm Turnbull, the country’s prime minister, approved to provide $530,000 as funding for the country’s blockchain research. Several government agencies also partnered up to unveil a new blockchain-based supply chain management proof of concept (PoC).
Africa practically does not see the urgency to integrate blockchain into its systems, save maybe for South Africa which has recently tested its very own PoC for an inter-bank remittance framework, and that which many considered promising.
Many More Leagues to Cover
There are still many leagues to cover, and with rampant issues of money laundering and alleged terrorism-funding, crypto enthusiasts would find it hard to convince the critics to envision the world that embraces crypto and blockchain for what they are, and for the tremendous possibilities that come with them.
For now, all that we can do is wait as we have never waited before, with hopes that the rest of the world will finally wake up and embrace the reality that the digital age will not be complete without the supremacy of the digital coins.