Cyprus finance minister promises blockchain bill by end of 2019

A senior member of the government of Cyprus has promised to bring forward a finished draft blockchain bill by the end of the year, amid increasing demand for new legal structures for the sector, the Financial Mirror reported.

Promising to conclude the draft legislation this year, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades described blockchain as “a new technological revolution similar to that of the internet.”

His views were echoed by House Speaker Demetris Syllouris, who said the technology had the power to reshape both society and the global economy, noting, “Full implementation of this technology across the public and private sector is expected to radically change the structures of modern societies, the way they are organized and their operation.”

According to Syllouris, the draft will structure the national blockchain strategy, with Cyprus keen to establish its position as a leading jurisdiction for blockchain and related sectors.

He also pledged to support the application of blockchain technologies across different public and private sector organizations, as well as promising to further explore the risks and threats of deploying technology.

The government is also running initial blockchain pilots across several departments, including the Department of Land and Surveys, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Tax Department and the National Betting Authority.

The move follows calls from the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission to incorporate the European Union (EU)’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) into domestic law, which would bring the sector directly under the remit of the regulator.

Cyprus has already signed up to a cooperation agreement with six other EU nations on blockchain strategy, in a bid to assist with the development and implementation of blockchain systems throughout the region.

The news will be welcomed by those operating within the crypto and blockchain sectors in the country, with regulation essential for providing legal certainty for operators. It comes at a time when regulators and lawmakers worldwide are moving increasingly towards stricter regulation of blockchain, with licensing schemes set up to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

With much of the sector still in legal limbo, the draft blockchain bill is seen as an important step for Cyprus in becoming a leading global jurisdiction for blockchain.

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