Legality of bitcoin by country

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The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some countries have explicitly allowed its use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. Likewise, various government agencies, departments, and courts have classified bitcoins differently. While this article provides the legal status of bitcoin, regulations and bans that apply to this cryptocurrency likely extend to similar systems as well.

List by country[edit]

Country Status
 Argentina Under the National Constitution of Argentina, bitcoins may be considered money but not legal currency.[1]:Argentina
 Australia In December 2013, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia indicated in an interview about bitcoin that "There would be nothing to stop people in this country deciding to transact in some other currency in a shop if they wanted to. There’s no law against that, so we do have competing currencies."[2]
 Bangladesh In September 2014, Bangladesh Bank said that "anybody caught using the virtual currency could be jailed under the country's strict anti-money laundering laws".[3]
 Belgium The Minister of Finance indicated that government intervention with regard to the bitcoin system does not appear necessary at the present time.[1]:Belgium
 Bolivia Banco Central de Bolivia issued a resolution banning bitcoin in 2014.[4][5]
 Brazil Not regulated, according to communication of Brazilian Central Bank 25.306/2014.[6]
 Bulgaria Bitcoin is regulated by law that discusses payment systems and payment services.[7]
 Canada Bitcoin would seem to be classified pursuant to the current provisions of the PPSA(= The Personal Property Security Act) simply as an "intangible".[8]

Bitcoin is regulated under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws in Canada.[1]:Canada[9]

 Chile There is no regulation on the use of bitcoins.[1]:Chile
 China (PRC) While private parties can hold and trade bitcoins in China, regulation prohibits financial firms like banks from doing the same.[10]:China
 Colombia The circular from 26 March 2014 by Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia states that the use of bitcoin is not regulated in Colombia.[11]
 Croatia On 6 December 2013, the Croatian National Bank reportedly conducted a discussion on the circulation of digital currencies and concluded that the bitcoin is not illegal in Croatia.[1]:Croatia
 Czech Republic Bitcoin trading does not require authorization by the Czech National Bank and the Czech National Bank cannot grant such an authorization.[12]
 Cyprus The use of bitcoins is not regulated in Cyprus.[1]:Cyprus
 Denmark Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority issued a statement declaring that bitcoin is not a currency and stating that it will not regulate its use.[1]:Denmark
 Ecuador Ecuadorian government issued a ban on bitcoin and other digital currencies.[13]
 Estonia In Estonia, the use of bitcoins is not regulated or otherwise controlled by the government.[1]:Estonia
 European Union The European Union has passed no specific legislation relative to the status of the bitcoin as a currency.[1]:European Union
 Finland The Finnish Tax Administration has issued instructions for the taxation of virtual currencies, including the bitcoin.[1]:Finland
 France The French Ministry of Finance issued regulations on July 11, 2014 pertaining to the operation of virtual currency professionals, exchanges, and taxation.[14]
G7 In 2013 the G7's Financial Action Task Force issued the following statement in guidelines which may be applicable to companies involved in transmitting bitcoin and other currencies, "Internet-based payment services that allow third party funding from anonymous sources may face an increased risk of [money laundering/terrorist financing]."[15]
 Germany According to the communication on bitcoin issued by Federal Financial Supervisory Authority on 19 December 2013, bitcoins are legally binding financial instruments that fall into the category of units of account, in accordance with the first sentence of section 1(11) of the German Banking Act.[1]:Germany
 Greece No specific legislation on bitcoins exists in Greece.[1]:Greece
 Hong Kong On 8 January 2014, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury addressed bitcoin in the Legislative Council stating that "Hong Kong at present has no legislation directly regulating bitcoins and other virtual currencies of [a] similar kind. However, our existing laws (such as the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance) provide sanctions against unlawful acts involving bitcoins, such as fraud or money laundering."[1]:Hong Kong
 Iceland According to a 2014 opinion from the Central Bank of Iceland "there is no authorization to purchase foreign currency from financial institutions in Iceland or to transfer foreign currency across borders on the basis of transactions with virtual currency. For this reason alone, transactions with virtual currency are subject to restrictions in Iceland."[16] This does not stop[17] businesses in Iceland from mining bitcoins.[18]
 India On 28 December 2013, the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, K. C. Chakrabarty, made a statement that the Reserve Bank of India had no plans to regulate bitcoin.[19]
 Indonesia On 6 February 2014, the Bank Indonesia issued a press release related to bitcoin stating "In view of the Act No. 7 Year 2012 concerning Currency and Act No. 23 Year 1999 which has been amended several times, the latest with Act No. 6 Year 2009, Bank Indonesia states that bitcoin and other virtual currency are not currency or legal payment instrument in Indonesia."[20]
 Ireland The Central Bank of Ireland was quoted in the Assembly of Ireland as stating that it does not regulate bitcoins.[1]:Ireland
 Israel As of 23 December 2013, Israel had not adopted any specific legislation regulating bitcoins.[1]:Israel
 Italy Italy does not regulate bitcoin use by private individuals.[1]:Italy
 Japan Japan officially recognizes bitcoin and digital currencies as money.[21]
 Jordan The government of Jordan has issued a warning discouraging the use of bitcoin and other similar systems.[22]
 Kyrgyzstan In a July, 2014, statement of the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic made clear that "the use of 'virtual currency', bitcoins, in particular, as a means of payment in the Kyrgyz Republic will be a violation of the law of our state."[23]
 Lebanon The government of Lebanon has issued a warning discouraging the use of bitcoin and other similar systems.[22]
 Lithuania Bank of Lithuania released a warning on 31 January 2014 that bitcoin is not recognized as legal tender in Lithuania and that bitcoin users should be aware of high risks that come with the usage of it.[24]
 Luxembourg The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier has issued a communication in February 2014 acknowledging the status of currency to the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.[25][26] The first BitLicence was issued in October 2015,[27] and the government is actively supporting this development.[26][28]
 Malaysia No official statement regarding the Bank Negara Malaysia’s views of the bitcoin system was located.[1]:Malaysia
 Malta Malta currently does not have any regulations specifically pertaining to bitcoins.[1]:Malta
 New Zealand The Reserve Bank of New Zealand states: "Non-banks do not need our approval for schemes that involve the storage and/or transfer of value (such as ‘bitcoin’) – so long as they do not involve the issuance of physical circulating currency (notes and coins)."[1]:New Zealand
 Netherlands Virtual currencies such as bitcoins currently do not fall within the scope of the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands.[1]:Netherlands
 Nicaragua News reports indicate that bitcoins are being used in the country.[1]:Nicaragua
 Norway The Norwegian Tax Administration has issued a statement that bitcoins will be treated as capital property for tax-related purposes.[1]:Norway
 Pakistan Currently there are no regulations in Pakistan. As per State Bank of Pakistan,[29] bitcoin is unregulated until some bigger player wants to enter the market.
 Philippines On 6 March 2014, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a statement on risks associated with bitcoin trading and usage. Bitcoin exchanges are not regulated by BSP at the moment.[30]
 Poland The use of the bitcoin in Poland is not regulated by a legal act at present.[1]:Poland
 Portugal The bitcoin has no specific legal framework in Portugal.[1]:Portugal
 Romania As of March 2015, an official statement of the Romanian National Bank mentioned that "using digital currencies as payment has certain risks for the financial system".[31]
 Russia As of January 2015, a bill explicitly banning bitcoins does not exist in Russia,[32] although it appears a de facto ban is in place. CNBC reported that bitcoin was illegal in Russia in December, 2014,[33] and various Russian authorities and organizations have spoken out or taken actions against bitcoin. In early 2015, Russia’s media regulator blocked several bitcoin-related websites,[32] in 2015 a Russian state-owned media outlet reported that "The [Russian] Central Bank... said that bitcoin usage was illegal under Russian federal law,"[32] and in February 2014, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office was quoted as saying, "Cyber currencies... including the most well-known, bitcoin, are money substitutes and cannot be used by individuals or legal entities."[34]
 Singapore In December 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reportedly stated that "[w]hether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene."[1]:Singapore
 Slovakia The National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), stated[35] that bitcoin does not have the legal attributes of a currency, and therefore does not fall under national control.
 Slovenia On December 23, 2013, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Slovenia issued a formal opinion about the status of the bitcoin and other virtual currencies in response to a request from the Tax Administration of the Republic of Slovenia. The opinion states that the bitcoin is not a monetary means under Slovenian law and not a financial instrument.[1]:Slovenia
 South Africa In December of 2014 the Reserve Bank of South Africa issued a position paper on Virtual Currencies whereby it declared that virtual currency had ‘no legal status or regulatory framework’. [36]
 South Korea While not illegal in the country, Korean authorities will prosecute illegal activity involving bitcoin[37] and have indicted at least one individual for purchasing drugs with bitcoin.[38]
 Spain Transactions in bitcoins are subject to the same laws as barter transactions.[1]:Spain
 Sweden The Swedish Tax Agency has given a preliminary ruling on Value Added Tax (VAT) on bitcoins, stating that trade in bitcoins is not subject to Swedish VAT, but is instead subject to the Finansinspektionen (Financial Supervisory Authority) regulations and treated as a currency. The decision has been appealed by the Swedish Tax Authority.[1]:Sweden
  Switzerland Bitcoin businesses in Switzerland are subject to anti-money laundering regulations and in some instances may need to obtain a banking license.[39]
 Taiwan Bitcoin ATMs are banned here[10]:Taiwan but bitcoins can be purchased at over 6000 convenience store kiosks.[40][41]
 Thailand Bank of Thailand declared bitcoin illegal in 2013, but some bitcoin companies have been able to obtain business licenses.[42] One startup denied a business license was reportedly told that "buying and selling bitcoins, using bitcoins to buy or sell goods and services, and transferring bitcoins in and out of Thailand were all currently illegal."[43]

Update 2016 May,10:[44] Bank of Thailand Suggests Bitcoin Not Illegal But Warns Against its Use.

 Turkey No formal regulations on the bitcoin exist in Turkey.[1]:Turkey
 United Kingdom The government of the United Kingdom has stated that the bitcoin is currently unregulated.[1]:United Kingdom
 United States The U.S. Treasury classified bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency in 2013.[45]

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, CFTC, classified bitcoin as a commodity in September 2015.

 Vietnam Bitcoin is not lawfully approved and protected according to State Bank of Vietnam in February, 2014.[46] Trading in bitcoin in Vietnam is still unrestricted and unregulated by law, and two largest bitcoin markets in Vietnam - VBTC and Bitcoin Vietnam are working without being restricted.

Details by country[edit]

Australia[edit]

In December 2013, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) indicated in an interview about bitcoin legality stating, "There would be nothing to stop people in this country deciding to transact in some other currency in a shop if they wanted to. There’s no law against that, so we do have competing currencies."[2]

Australia classifies bitcoin as property[47] and therefore purchases made with bitcoin as barter.[48] The Australian government has released tax guidelines for individuals[49] and businesses.[50]

China[edit]

While private parties can hold and trade bitcoins in China, regulation prohibits financial firms like banks from doing the same.[10]:China On 5 December 2013, China Central Bank made its first step in regulating bitcoin by prohibiting financial institutions from handling bitcoin transactions.[51] In a statement on the central bank’s website the People's Bank of China said financial institutions and payment companies cannot give pricing in, buy and sell bitcoin or insure bitcoin-linked products. On 16 December it was speculated that the People's Bank of China had issued a new ban on third-party payment processors from doing business with bitcoin exchanges,[52] however a statement from BTC China suggests this isn't accurate, and rather payment processors had voluntarily withdrawn their services.[53] On 1 April 2014 China Central Bank ordered commercial banks and payment companies to close bitcoin trading accounts in two weeks.[54] Trading bitcoins by individuals is legal in China.[51][55]

Czech Republic[edit]

On 25 September 2013, Analytical department of Ministry of Finance of Czech Republic published legal guidance for buying and selling digital currencies.[56] Transactions worth more than 1.000 EUR are considered "AML high-risk" in accordance to § 6 para. of Act No. 253/2008 Code. Transactions worth more than 15.000 EUR are considered "AML suspicious" in accordance to § 18 of Act No. 253/2008 Code.[note 1]

The Czech National Bank (CNB) stated on February 10, 2014:[12]

  • "The data in the bitcoin protocol do not have the character of receivables from another person, therefore they are neither cashless means of payment nor electronic money (§4 of ZPS - Czech Payment System Law) resp. funds in the sense of §2/1c ZPS. The purchase or sale of bitcoins for personal use is neither a payment service in the sense of §3/1 ZPS, nor a cashless trade with foreign currency (§2/1e ZPS). In the same vein, sending a transaction in the bitcoin protocol (e.g., sending a specific amount of bitcoins to another user) or 'management of a bitcoin account for another person' (when a different person manages bitcoins for their owner, typically using a 'virtual wallet' at an Internet page) does not represent a payment service in the sense of ZPS... Therefore, bitcoin trading does not require authorization by the CNB (and the CNB cannot grant such an authorization), and is not a subject of supervision."[note 2]
  • "A purchase or sale of bitcoins does not induce the status of an obliged person in terms of AML regulations, but if an obliged person – a financial institution, real estate business, etc. – meets bitcoin trading, it should pay a special attention..."[note 3]
  • "We conclude that an authorization for acceptance of bitcoins in payment for goods or services by CNB is not needed. But it is important to warn that in the Czech environment, a systematic denial of domestic banknotes and coins could carry out the attributes of a criminal act, threatening the circulation of domestic money."[note 4]

Denmark[edit]

On 17 December 2013, Denmark's Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has issued a statement that echoes EBA's warning. In addition, FSA says that doing business with bitcoin does not fall under its regulatory authority and therefore FSA does not currently prevent anyone from opening such businesses.[57] FSA's chief legal adviser says that Denmark might consider amending existing financial legislation to cover virtual currencies.[58]

Ecuador[edit]

The National Assembly of Ecuador banned bitcoins including other decentralized digital/crypto currencies. Due to the establishment of a new state-run electronic money system. Ecuador's new project would be controlled by the government and tied directly to the local currency—the dollar. Users will be able to pay for select services and send money between individuals. This will begin in mid-February 2015. "Electronic money is designed to operate and support the monetary scheme of dollarization," economist Diego Martinez, a delegate of the President of the Republic to the Board of Regulation and Monetary and Financial Policy.[59]

Estonia[edit]

The Estonian Central bank refers to bitcoin as a "problematic scheme" and "Ponzi scheme".[60] The Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit stated that every person who exchanges any amount of bitcoin requires a license and that every person who trades more than 1000 Euro per months needs to be met in person and a copy of id made and kept.[61]

European Union[edit]

According to the European Central Bank, traditional financial sector regulation is not applicable to bitcoin because it does not involve traditional financial actors.[62]:5 Others in the EU have stated, however, that existing rules can be extended to include bitcoin and bitcoin companies.[10]

The European Central Bank classifies bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency.[62]:6 In July 2014 the European Banking Authority advised European banks not to deal in virtual currencies such as bitcoin until a regulatory regime was in place.[63]

In October 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that bitcoin transactions are exempt from consumption tax similarly as traditional cash.[64] According to judges, the tax shouldn’t be charged because bitcoins should be treated as a means of payment.[65]

Finland[edit]

Ruling 034/2014 by the Finnish Central Board of Taxes (CBT) stated that commission fees charged on bitcoin purchases by an exchange market were, under the EU VAT Directive, banking services and therefore VAT exempt. This is because the court classified bitcoins as payment instruments - whereas most countries treat their use as an unregulated method for the exchange of goods, or even as a crime.[66]

France[edit]

The French Ministry of Finance issued regulations on July 11, 2014 requiring:[14]

1) Identity verification during the opening of, withdrawal from, or deposit to a virtual currency account.

2) Capital gains are taxable as business profits (BIC) or as non-commercial profits (BNC), depending on if the activity is undertaken habitually or not. Assets held in bitcoin must also be reported pertaining to the wealth tax (ISF).

3) Proposed ceiling on payments consistent with current rules for cash payments.

4) Conformance with regulations at the European Union level for bitcoin exchanges pertaining to identity verification of transaction participants and anti-money laundering.

G7[edit]

In 2013 the G7's Financial Action Task Force issued the following statement in guidelines which may be applicable to companies involved in transmitting bitcoin and other currencies, "Internet-based payment services that allow third party funding from anonymous sources may face an increased risk of [money laundering/terrorist financing]." They concluded that this may "pose challenges to countries in [anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing] regulation and supervision".[15]

Germany[edit]

On 19 August 2013, the German Finance Ministry announced that bitcoin is now essentially a "unit of account" and can be used for the purpose of tax and trading in the country. It is not classified as a foreign currency or e–money but stands as "private money" which can be used in "multilateral clearing circles", according to the ministry.[67]

Hong Kong[edit]

On 16 November 2013, Norman Chan, the chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said that bitcoins is only a virtual commodity. He also decided that bitcoins will not be regulated by HKMA. However, the authority will be closely watching the usage of bitcoins locally and its development overseas.[68]

Iceland[edit]

The Icelandic Central Bank confirmed that "it is prohibited to engage in foreign exchange trading with the electronic currency bitcoin, according to the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act".[69]

India[edit]

In June 2013, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a notice acknowledging that virtual currencies posed legal, regulatory and operational challenges.[70] In August 2013, a spokesperson wrote in an email that bitcoin was under observation.[71]

On 24 December 2013, the Reserve Bank of India issued an advisory to the Indian public to be cautious in buying or selling of virtual currencies, including bitcoin.[72][73] Following the announcement bitcoin operators in the country began suspending operations.[74]

The first raid in India was undertaken a couple of days later in Ahmedabad by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the office of the website, buysellbit.co.in, that provided a platform to trade in this virtual currency. The preliminary investigations found it to be in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).[75]

On 28 December 2013, the Deputy Governor of the RBI, K. C. Chakrabarty, made a statement that RBI had no plans to regulate bitcoin.[19][76]

Indonesia[edit]

On 21 December 2013, Difi Ahmad, the executive director of communication at Bank Indonesia (BI) said that bitcoin is a potential payment method but could potentially be used in scams and money laundering operations. Since it is not regulated by banks, it has its associated risks. The central bank of Indonesia is currently studying bitcoin and they have no plans to issue regulations on it.[77]

On 16 January 2014, Ronald Waas, deputy governor of Bank Indonesia said that bitcoin usage would break a number of laws including Undang-undang Bank Indonesia (Bank Indonesia Act), Undang-undang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik (Information and Electronic Transaction Act), and Undang-undang Mata Uang (Monetary Act). For example, Undang-undang Mata Uang states that Rupiah is the only legal tender in the country. He also strongly advised the public against using bitcoins because security of bitcoins transactions are not guaranteed. However, currently BI does not have detailed policies of regulating or banning bitcoins usage.[78][79]

On 6 February 2014, Bank Indonesia is stating that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not currencies or legal tender in Indonesia. The people are urged to exercise caution towards bitcoin and other virtual currencies. All risks regarding ownership or use of bitcoin are borne by the owner or user of bitcoin and other virtual currencies.[20][80] In September 2014, deputy governor of BI discourage the public against using bitcoin as a payment method.[81]

Israel[edit]

On February 19, 2014, the Bank of Israel issued a public service announcement detailing some of the risks associated with using bitcoin.[82]

On August 11, 2014, the Bank of Israel announced the formation of an inter-bureau team exploring the bitcoin issue, including representatives of the Bank of Israel, Ministry of Finance, Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, Israel Tax Authority, Israel Securities Authority and more. As of March 2015, no official guidelines regarding bitcoin have been published.[83]

The Israel Bar Association considers the virtual currency an appropriate form of payment for attorneys.[84]

Japan[edit]

On 7 March 2014, the Japanese government, in response to a series of questions asked in the National Diet, made a cabinet decision on the legal treatment of bitcoins in the form of answers to the questions.[85] The decision did not see bitcoin as currency nor bond under the current Banking Act and Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, prohibiting banks and securities companies from dealing in bitcoins. The decision also acknowledges that there are no laws to unconditionally prohibit individuals or legal entities from receiving bitcoins in exchange for goods or services. Taxes may be applicable to bitcoins.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, in February 2016, "Japanese financial regulators have proposed handling virtual currencies as methods of payment equivalent to conventional currencies".[86]

Jordan[edit]

The Central Bank of Jordan prohibits banks, currency exchanges, financial companies, and payment service companies from dealing in bitcoins or other digital currencies.[87] While it warned the public of risks of bitcoins, and that they are not legal tender, bitcoins are still accepted by small businesses and merchants.[87]

Lithuania[edit]

Bank of Lithuania released a warning on 31 January 2014 that bitcoin is not recognized as legal tender in Lithuania and that bitcoin users should be aware of high risks that come with the usage of it.[24]

Luxembourg[edit]

The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) issued a communication in February 2014 stating the country's position regarding "virtual currencies":[25] "virtual" currencies are considered as money, since they are accepted as a means of payment of goods and services by a sufficiently large group of people.

More specifically, they are scriptural money as opposed to cash in the form of banknotes and coins. The scriptural nature does not require a tangible writing, similarly to electronic documents or signatures that do not require paper. Virtual currencies may thus be electronic money, but not necessarily within the meaning of the European Directive 2009/110 which provides for a definition of electronic money limited to its own scope.

The issuing of virtual currencies is not regulated from a monetary point of view. On the other hand, the CSSF reminds that nobody can be established in Luxembourg to carry out an activity of the financial sector without an authorisation by the Minister of Finance and without being subject to the prudential supervision of the CSSF (Article 14 of the law of 5 April 1993 on the financial sector).

Therefore, the potential interested persons who would like to establish themselves in Luxembourg in order to carry out an activity of the financial sector (as, for instance, the issuing of means of payments in the form of virtual or other currencies, the provision of payment services using virtual or other currencies, the creation of a market (platform) to trade virtual or other currencies) shall define their business purpose and their activity in a sufficiently concrete and precise manner to allow the CSSF to determine for which status they need to receive the ministerial authorisation.

The CSSF encouraged these individuals to contact its officials about facilitating digital currency-related commerce in the country, and suggested it will operate on a case-by-case basis with its regulatory decisions.[26]

The first Luxembourg "BitLicence" has been granted on 12 October 2015 to SnapSwap.[27] The CSSF explained in May 2015 that a few companies were in the process of acquiring a similar licences, further adding it was possible to get "Your licence within six months".[88]

Malaysia[edit]

On 4 November 2013, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) met with local bitcoin proponents to learn more about the currency but did not comment at the time.[89] BNM issued a statement on 6 January 2014 that bitcoin is not recognised as a legal tender in Malaysia. The central bank will not regulate bitcoin operations at the moment and users should aware of the risks associated with bitcoin usage.[90][91]

Norway[edit]

The Norwegian Tax Administration stated in December 2013 that they don't define bitcoin as money but regard it as an asset. Profits are subjected to wealth tax. In business, use of bitcoin falls under the sales tax regulation.[92]

Philippines[edit]

On 6 March 2014, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a statement on risks associated with bitcoin trading and usage. Bitcoin exchanges are not regulated by BSP at the moment. BSP will be monitoring the possibility of bitcoin usage in money laundering and other illegal purposes.[30]

Poland[edit]

Szymon Woźniak of the Ministry of Finance made an official announcement on the legality of bitcoin on 18 December 2013 at a conference at the Warsaw School of Economics stating that the Ministry of Finance does not consider bitcoin illegal and does not want to hinder its development.[93] He clarified that while not illegal, bitcoin cannot be considered legal tender, and, in the light of the directives of the European Union, it is neither electronic money.[93] As of January 27, 2015 several banks have closed accounts of clients trading bitcoin, and indicated "presumption of criminal offense" as the cause, with "criminal offense" presumably being "cryptocurrency trade".[94]

Russia[edit]

CNBC reported that bitcoin was illegal in Russia in 2014,[33] as did the European Parliament.[10]:Russia Various Russian authorities and organizations have spoken out or taken actions against bitcoin. In early 2015, Russia’s media regulator blocked several bitcoin-related websites,[32] and a Russian state-owned media outlet reported that according to "the [Russian] Central Bank... bitcoin usage [is] illegal under Russian federal law,"[32] and in February 2014, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office was quoted as saying, "Cyber currencies... including the most well-known, bitcoin, are money substitutes and cannot be used by individuals or legal entities."[34] In 2014 the Bank of Russia issued a statement on bitcoin usage in which it was characterized as money substitute banned in Russia.[95] In February 2014, Russia's Prosecutor General's Office claimed that bitcoin is a money substitute and "cannot be used by individuals or legal entities".[96] In September 2014, Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev announced that a law will be passed by Spring 2015.[97] In July 2016, Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev announced that the new law will define bitcoin as a foreign currency. Russians will be able to buy bitcoins and use them abroad. He is also expected that the new law will pass by the end of 2016.[98]

Singapore[edit]

On September 22, 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warned users of the risks associated with using bitcoin stating "If bitcoin ceases to operate, there may not be an identifiable party responsible for refunding their monies or for them to seek recourse"[99] and in December 2013 stated "Whether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene"[100] In January 2014, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore issued a series of tax guidelines according to which bitcoin transactions may be treated as a barter exchange if it is used as a payment method for real goods and services. Businesses that deal with bitcoin currency exchanges will be taxed based on their bitcoin sales.[101]

Slovenia[edit]

On December 23, 2013 the Slovenian Ministry of Finance made an announcement [102] stating that bitcoin is neither a currency nor an asset. There is no capital gains tax chargeable on bitcoin, however bitcoin mining is taxed and businesses selling goods/services in bitcoin are also taxed.

Slovakia[edit]

The National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), stated[35] that bitcoin does not have the legal attributes of a currency, and therefore does not fall under national control.[note 5] European legislation, including the Slovak law, does not define the activities associated with virtual currency. Such activities are not regulated and supervised by the National Bank of Slovakia or the European Central Bank. At the same time NBS points out that any legal person or natural person in the Slovak Republic shall not issue any notes or any other coins. Unlawful manufacturing of banknotes and coins and putting them into circulation is punishable by law. In this context, NBS points out that virtual currencies have not a physical counterpart in the form of legal tender and participation in such a scheme (virtual currency) is at your own risk. Exchanges or purchases of virtual currencies represent the business risk of investors and investors' money are not protected. For any compensation or losses caused by such exchanges or purchases there is no legal entitlement.

South Africa[edit]

The South Africa Reserve Bank Position Paper on Virtual Currencies issued on 3 December 2014 came to 3 conclusions:[103]

1. The Bank does not oversee, supervise or regulate the Virtual Currency (VC) landscape, systems or intermediaries for effectiveness, soundness, integrity or robustness. Consequently, any and all activities related to the acquisition, trading or use of VCs (particularly Decentralized Convertible Virtual Currencies - DCVCs) are performed at the end-user‟s sole and independent risk and have no recourse to the Bank.

2. Given the current landscape and information currently available, the Bank contends that VCs pose no significant risk to financial stability, price stability or the National Payment System. However, end-users, whether individuals or businesses that accept VCs and businesses involved in the VCs ecosystem, are cautioned that any activities performed or undertaken with VCs are at their sole and independent risk.

3. In line with the Bank‟s position that regulation should follow innovation, the Bank continues monitoring developments in this regard and reserves the right to change its position should the landscape warrant regulatory intervention.

South Korea[edit]

There are no laws in South Korea regulating the use of bitcoin at present.[1]:South Korea On December 12, 2013, the president of the Bank of Korea recommended at a press conference that bitcoin be regulated in the future.[104]

Sweden[edit]

The Swedish jurisdiction is in general quite favorable for bitcoin businesses and users as compared to other countries within the EU and the rest of the world. The governmental regulatory and supervisory body Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) have legitimized the fast growing industry by publicly proclaiming bitcoin and other digital currencies as a means of payment. For certain businesses interacting with fiat (mainly exchanges) the current regulation dictates that an application for approval/license must be filed and all the AML/CTF and KYC regulations applicable to more traditional financial service providers must be followed.

Switzerland[edit]

On 5 December 2013 a proposal was put forth by 45 members of the Swiss Parliament for digital sustainability (Pardigli), that calls on the Swiss government to evaluate the opportunities for utilization of bitcoin by the country’s financial sector.[105] It also seeks clarification on the bitcoin’s legal standing with respect to VAT, securities and anti-money laundering laws.[106]

In response to the parliament postulates, the Swiss Federal Council issued a report on virtual currencies in June 2014.[107] The report states that since virtual currencies are not in a legal vacuum, the Federal Council has concluded that there is no need for legislative measures to be taken at the moment.

Taiwan[edit]

While bitcoin itself is not illegal here, approvals for bitcoin ATMs have been refused.[1]:Taiwan

On 6 December 2013, Perng Fai-nan said that bitcoin is only used in certain communities. Besides, he also opined that the value of bitcoin is a bubble and is highly volatile. Therefore, he advised the public against the speculation of bitcoins to prevent making a loss during the process. The central bank is closely watching the development of bitcoin and plan to impose regulations in the future.[108]

On 31 December 2013, Financial Supervisory Commission (Republic of China) (FSC) and CBC issued a joint statement which warns against the use of bitcoins. It is stated that bitcoins remains highly volatile, highly speculative, and is not entitled to legal claims or guarantee of conversion.[109]

On 5 January 2014, FSC chairman Tseng Ming-chung stated that FSC will not allow the installation of bitcoin ATM in Taiwan because bitcoin is not a currency and it should not be accepted by individuals and banks as payment.[110]

However, despite this, three of the four major convenience store chains in Taiwan make available bitcoin purchases through their kiosk systems,[111] and the largest chain now allows bitcoin to be used for purchases.[112]

Thailand[edit]

In 2013, the Thai monetary authority, the Bank of Thailand, "issued a preliminary ruling that using bitcoins as described was illegal."[43] A bitcoin startup denied a business license was reportedly told that "buying and selling bitcoins, using bitcoins to buy or sell goods and services, and transferring bitcoins in and out of Thailand were all currently illegal."[43]

Turkey[edit]

Bitcoin is not regulated as it is not considered to be electronic money according to the law.[1]:Turkey[113]

United Kingdom[edit]

Bitcoin is treated as 'private money'. When bitcoin is exchanged for sterling or for foreign currencies, such as euro or dollar, no VAT will be due on the value of the bitcoins themselves. However, in all instances, VAT will be due in the normal way from suppliers of any goods or services sold in exchange for bitcoin or other similar cryptocurrency. Profits and losses on cryptocurrencies are subject to capital gains tax.[114]

United States[edit]

The U.S. Treasury classified bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency in 2013.[45] A Magistrate Judge of a Texas U.S. District Court classified bitcoin as a currency.[115] A June 2014 U.S. government auction of almost 30,000 bitcoins, which the U.S. Marshals Service seized in October 2013 from Silk Road, was said to increase legitimacy of the currency.[116]

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in May 2013, that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) formulate a tax guidance for bitcoin businesses.[117] End of March 2014, in time for 2013 tax filing, the IRS issued a guidance that it considered virtual currency as property for federal taxation and that "an individual who 'mines' virtual currency as a trade or business [is] subject to self-employment tax".[118]

In November 2013, the United States Senate held a committee hearing titled "Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies" to discuss virtual currencies.[119] At this hearing, held by senator Tom Carper, bitcoin and other currencies were received generally positively, in that bitcoin was a "legal means of exchange" and that "online payment systems, both centralized and decentralized, offer legitimate financial services" per US officials Peter Kadzik and Mythili Raman.[120][121]

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) deadlocked in November 2013 on whether to allow bitcoin in political campaigns with three Democrat members voting nay, three Republicans voting yea.[122] Political bitcoin pioneers New Hampshire House member Mark Warden[123] and Southern California politician Michael B. Glenn[124] independently from each other accepted bitcoin in their campaigns, and paved the way for others to follow suit. In May 2014, the FEC issued draft guidance to U.S. politicians who want to receive bitcoin donations.[125] It declined to declare bitcoins currency, stating they fit into its "anything of value" definition.[126]

In May 2014, Brett Stapper, co-founder of Falcon Global Capital, registered to lobby members of Congress and federal agencies on issues related to bitcoin.[127]

In January 2014, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) focused on whether bitcoin-denominated stock exchanges were illegal, and inquired into unregistered securities offerings of the gambling site SatoshiDice and FeedZeBirds.[128] In May it warned investors that "both fraudsters and promoters of high-risk investment schemes may target bitcoin users".[129] The SEC charged and settled with the former owner of SatoshiDice and FeedZeBirds in June 2014 for selling unregistered securities.[130] In October 2014, former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt joined BitPay, a bitcoin payment processor, and Vaurum, a bitcoin exchange for institutional investors in advisory roles.[131]

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) stated in March 2014 it considered regulation of digital currencies[132] after TeraExchange announced to launch a swap. TeraExchange constructed an index for the value of bitcoin from six different exchanges. The dollar value of a given bitcoin amount is locked in the swap. The CFTC approved the financial product in September 2014, satisfied it "could not easily be manipulated".[133] There may be significant legal issues around security interests in bitcoin[134] under the Uniform Commercial Code.[vague]

In June 2014 California Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D–Sacramento) submitted draft legislation (Assembly Bill 129) to legalize bitcoin and other forms of alternative and digital currency.[135][136] After the GAO had called for increased oversight of bitcoin, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned consumers of bitcoin being risky.[137]

As of May 2015, New York state is the only state with a final bitcoin rule, commonly referred to as a BitLicense.[138] In March 2014, the New York State Department of Financial Services led by superintendent Benjamin Lawsky had officially invited bitcoin exchanges to apply with them,[139] and in July 2014 it published draft regulations for virtual currency businesses.[140] Businesses would have to provide transaction receipts, disclosures about risks, policies to handle customer complaints, maintain a cybersecurity program, hire a compliance officer and verify details about their customers to follow anti-money-laundering rules, per FinCEN.[140]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Translated from: Podle § 6 odst. 1 AML zákona je za podezřelý obchod třeba považovat „obchod uskutečněný za okolností vyvolávajících podezření ze snahy o legalizaci výnosů z trestné činnosti nebo podezření, že v obchodu užité prostředky jsou určeny k financování terorismu“. FAÚ proto vyzývá všechny povinné osoby, aby v souvislosti s nákupem/prodejem jakékoli digitální měny, jako je například Bitcoin, byla jako velmi riziková k posouzení a k rozhodnutí o dalších opatřeních podle okolností každá platba nad hodnotu 1.000 EUR a vždy jako podezřelý obchod postupem podle § 18 AML zákona oznámena transakce nad hodnotu 15.000 EUR.
  2. ^ Translated from: Data evidovaná v protokolu bitcoin... nemají charakter pohledávky držitele bitcoinů za jinou osobou, nejsou to tedy bezhotovostní peněžní prostředky ani elektronické peníze (§ 4 ZPS), resp. peněžní prostředky ve smyslu ustanovení § 2 odst. 1 písm. c) ZPS. Nákup či prodej bitcoinů na vlastní účet nepředstavuje žádnou z platebních služeb podle § 3 odst. 1 ZPS ani bezhotovostní obchod s cizí měnou [§ 2 odst. 1 písm. e) ZPS]. Stejně tak nepředstavuje žádnou platební službu ve smyslu ZPS provedení transakce v rámci protokolu bitcoin (např. zaslání určitého množství bitcoinů jinému uživateli protokolu) ani "vedení účtu v bitcoinech" (kdy za vlastníka bitcoinů spravuje jeho bitcoiny, typicky v rámci "virtuální peněženky" na internetové stránce, jiná osoba)... Obchodování s bitcoiny proto nevyžaduje povolení ČNB (takové povolení ČNB ani nemůže udělit) a nepodléhá dohledu ČNB.
  3. ^ Translated from: Samotný nákup a prodej bitcoinů statut povinné osoby nezakládá, ale pokud se některá povinná osoba – finanční instituce, obchodník s nemovitostmi či kulturními památkami, provozovatel loterie aj. – v rámci své podnikatelské činnosti setká s obchody s bitcoiny, měla by jim věnovat zvýšenou pozornost...
  4. ^ Translated from: Závěrem dodáváme, že povolení ČNB není potřebné ani k přijímání úhrad zboží a služeb prostřednictvím bitcoinů. Je však třeba upozornit, že soustavné odmítání tuzemských bankovek a mincí by mohlo naplnit znaky skutkové podstaty trestného činu ohrožování oběhu tuzemských peněz.
  5. ^ Translated from: ...bitcoin nespĺňa atribúty meny v právnom zmysle (jeho platnosť na určitom území nie je mocensky ustanovená, právny poriadok neupravuje jej obeh ani ochranu), zastávame názor, že ho nie je možné označovať za menu.

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