Report: “Virtual Asset Services” Banned in Qatar

International Investment (II) is reporting that Qatar’s financial regulator, the QFC, has banned the use of cryptocurrencies in the region.

The ban appears to be comprehensive. It covers, “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 QFC said in a statement.

Further, the ban prohibits cryptocurrency-to-fiat conversions, crypto-to-crypto conversions, “transfer of virtual assets” and their custody; administration of trading services and issuance of virtual assets.

All told, “Virtual Asset Services may not be conducted in or from the QFC at this time.”

The article does not explain the reason for the ban. The QFC has been contacted for comment and any remarks will be appended to this article.

Digital securities or other financial products and instruments regulated by the QFA, the Qatar Central Bank or the Qatar Financial Markets Authority remain legal in the country, II writes.

Qatar is a small, peninsular country that shares a border with Saudi Arabia.

The country is perhaps best known for funding the Al Jazeera media network, “a major global news organization, with 80 bureaus around the world,” according to Wikipedia.

Qatar periodically runs into conflict with neighbouring countries and the West for its diplomatic ties to Iran and support of Palestinian militants.

In January 2018, officials from Venezuela reportedly traveled to Qatar to ask the Emirate to invest in Venezuela’s proposed El Petro cryptocurrency project. Qatar declined. Venezuala President Nicolas Maduro has portrayed el petro as an instrument to help Venezuela assert its autonomy, but critics say the El Petro project is misguided, mismanaged and corrupt.

In December, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told leaders from Turkey, Qatar, Indonesia and Malaysia gathered in Kuala Lumpur that, “The Muslim world should be designing measures to save themselves from the domination of the United States dollar and the American financial regime.”

At the meeting, Rouhani reportedly, “suggested the creation of a special banking and financial system among Muslim nations, using local currencies for trade and giving each other trade privileges to deepen linkages.”

Such a system could help Muslim countries buck U.S. economic sanctions used as a, “main tool…of domineering hegemony and bullying,” he said.

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