Qatar bans crypto trading and storage: report

Qatar has banned cryptocurrencies according to a new report. The report by International Investment claims that the Qatari Financial Regulator released a statement saying, “Virtual Asset Services may not be conducted in or from the QFC at this time.”

The Qatar Financial Center (QFC) is financial sector located in the Doha that provides legal and business infrastructure for financial services. According to the report, the ban was quite comprehensive, banning “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 watchdog purportedly extends the ban to any exchange between cryptos and fiat currencies or between two cryptos. It also outlaws the transfer of cryptos, the custody and administration of cryptos and any financial instruments tied to cryptos. Additionally, it prohibits the “participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and/or sale of a virtual asset.”

Digital forms of securities as well as the other financial instruments under the purview of the watchdog or the Qatar Central Bank are still legal.

The Qatar Financial Markets Regulator has yet to release a statement regarding the ban.

The ban comes at a time when the other Middle Eastern countries are trying to fortify their positions as crypto hubs. Bahrain is working to remove all restrictions for crypto firms, making it easy to set up a crypto firm in the country. As CoinGeek reported, setting up a crypto firm in Bahrain will cost you around $200,000, much lower than in places like London and New York where the cost is over $750,000.

Bahrain also saw the establishment of the first regulated on-shore crypto exchange in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Known as Rain, the exchange is backed by global giant Bittrex and has already raised $2.5 million to set up and expand its operations.

The UAE, on the other hand, is home to three crypto exchanges. One of these, MidChains, has received the backing of Mubadala, a state-owned investment company.

The ban from Qatar is quite a surprise, especially given that the country was one of the attendants in a recent meeting between Muslim leaders that called for a Muslim crypto. The calls for a Muslim crypto were led by Iran, with Malaysia and Turkey being among the other attendants.

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