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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Legal Status of Bitcoin in the United Arab Emirates

The Legal Status of Bitcoin in the United Arab Emirates

This is the first in a series of articles considering legal issues relating to bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the UAE. In this article we focus on the legal status of bitcoin and address the question of whether bitcoin is banned in the UAE. In part two we will consider the case for regulating bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and in part three we will consider legal issues relating to the adoption of blockchain technology by public and private entities in the UAE.

Recent developments in the payments regulatory environment in the UAE have turned a spotlight on the legal status of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in UAE. On 1 January 2017, the UAE Central Bank published the “Regulatory Framework For Stored Values and Electronic Payment Systems” (see also United Arab Emirates – the New Digital Payments Regulatory Landscape).The focus of the Regulations was “to facilitate robust adoption of digital payments across the UAE in a secure manner,” but the Regulations contained the following statement which initially caused some concern among the cryptocurrency community in the UAE:

“D.7.3. Provisions for Virtual Currencies – All Virtual Currencies (and any transactions thereof) are prohibited”

On its own terms, this statement was open to one possible interpretation as banning bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies in the UAE. On 1 February 2017, the Governor of the UAE central bank, His Excellency Mubarak Rashed Khamis Al Mansouri, issued a statement to Gulf News saying that “these regulations do not cover ‘virtual currency’” and “these regulations do not apply to bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, currency exchanges, or underlying technology such as Blockchain.” He further added that virtual currencies are under review by the Central Bank and new regulations will be issued as appropriate. This, and the report from the Dubai Supreme Legislation Committee in November 2016 that it was considering “the present and future of the legislative and legal frameworks related to cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin” is a very welcome signal that the UAE is seeking to develop mature regulatory environment for the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and we eagerly await further guidance from the UAE authorities on this subject.

Full story at http://bit.ly/2q5xVds

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