Saudi Arabia has banned virtual currency, including Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies. This is the decision of the standing committee for awareness on dealing in unauthorized securities activities in the foreign exchange market, which was formed by the Capital Market Authority, Ministry of Interior Membership, Ministry of Media, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).
Other countries that have made Bitcoin illegal include Algeria, Bolivia, Nepal, Ecuador, Bangladesh and Cambodia.
The reason Saudi Arabia gives for banning Bitcoin is that it believes it is high risk since the government doesn’t control Bitcoin. Further, it says Bitcoin involves deceitful get rich quick schemes and warns people to be careful of sending money to anonymous people in the cryptocurrency world.
It is perhaps no surprise that Saudi Arabia has banned Bitcoin, since the kingdom is one of the last absolute monarchies still in existence. Bitcoin facilitates complete financial freedom for individuals through decentralization and cryptographic security – perhaps a freedom at odds with the ideals of an absolute monarchy.
Bitcoin hadn’t been particularly active on an institutional level in Saudi Arabia before this decision to ban it. There appears to be just one Bitcoin exchange in Saudi Arabia, BitOasis, but it hasn’t been able to serve customers since May 2018 due to banking issues.
This may not be the end of cryptocurrency in Saudi Arabia, however, as SAMA is working with the United Arab Emirates to produce a cryptocurrency that can be used for cross-border payments.
Additionally, since Bitcoin is decentralized and the kingdom has no control over the network, it would be virtually impossible to stop Saudi Arabians from using Bitcoin.
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