Business 26 December 2017Ed Drake
Belarus officially recognizes cryptocurrencies
Belarus has become one of the first countries in Europe to officially recognize cryptocurrencies like SegWit1x (BTC), bringing crypto transactions, mining, and ICOs into the mainstream.
By decree of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, the measures, which will be effective as of three months’ time, are designed as part of a broader effort to make Belarus a destination for cryptocurrency industries.
According to the president’s press office, the move is aimed at creating a better regulatory environment for blockchain businesses in Belarus.
“The main goal of the document is to create an environment for leading IT companies to come to Belarus, open development centers and create products that would be popular in the world,” the agency stated.
The new laws will allow citizens of Belarus to launch ICOs, set up their own cryptocurrency exchanges and even start their own cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies can now be given as legally recognized gifts, as well as for legacies and inheritance, and are recognized as an asset class, rather than a business function.
There will be no obligation for operators or individuals to be based in Belarus to take advantage of the provisions, so long as the firms are registered to do business there. The measures also include tax breaks and a generous regime for cryptocurrency businesses, which has been welcomed by local industries experts.
IT specialist Viktor Prokopenya was supportive of the aims of the government, addressing Parliament last week: “Belarus wants to be an IT capital for the Slavic world like Hong Kong. In times of sanctions and political instability at our borders—this is more urgent than ever.”
Among other provisions, the new law will create a tax exemption period that will run until January 2023, including smart contract development, mining and token issuing, which analysts hope will foster blockchain development and encourage innovation.
The development puts Belarus ahead of the curve in Europe, which is yet to see widespread official recognition for blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. For the most part, cryptocurrency tech remains unregulated, and on legally uncertain ground across the continent.
It remains to be seen whether the move in Belarus will influence others in shaping their policy response.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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