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Qatar's Financial Regulator Prohibits All Services Involving Virtual Assets

Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology have been around for a decade until finally seeing some genuine institutional interest. Governments around the globe are adopting the new technology, as the United States and China are cautiously pushing their regulatory frameworks further into completion. Other countries, such as Malta and the Virgin Islands on the other hand, are accepting a more crypto-friendly approach, helping their local economic growth.

The United States is taking a rather archaic and slow crypto adoption process, as U.S. regulators are still not certain how to classify different types of digital assets. However, few departments already deployed an in-house blockchain network for department-based grant awards.

The so-called GrandSolutions initiative makes a digitalized version of the grant records, as well as improves the mechanism for grant awards. The other major blockchain-based solution is in the healthcare industry.

Hospitals can exchange various data via a healthcare data exchange service in cooperation with the INFORMED incubator program. Blockchain also is being applied in the military as the U.S. military is piloting a project that enables exchange of secure 3d printing files for the production of various small-grade replacement parts.

Venezuela also joins the list of governments utilizing blockchain technology. In 2018 the NEM blockchain saw the creation of Venezuela's oil-backed cryptocurrency, dubbed "petro." The token allows Venezuela to add liquidity to their oil reserves and battle hyperinflation. "Petro" also mitigates the sanctions on the country, but as of press time, there is no clear information about the usage of "petro" from international investors.

Malta, with its blockchain-friendly regulatory frameworks, saw a massive boost in companies opening or shifting operations in the country. Despite being used as a crypto "haven" for illicit activities, Malta managed to attract large-scale crypto companies like Binance, which is revenue surpasses $2 billion. Companies like Binance give the otherwise small Malta economy a significant push.

The British Virgin Islands' government recently announced its plans to digitize its entire economy via a government-issued digital currency. The archipelago became a place for many crypto companies due to the less-demanding regulations. The British Virgin Islands's government plans to issue a U.S. dollar-pegged digital currency to eliminate the problems with cash transfer between the small islands.

China, on the other hand, is trying to become the first major country to issue a central bank digital currency. The People's Bank of China (PBoC) announced that the development is "progressing smoothly" during a work conference in Beijing. China's first plans to issue a central bank digital currency date back from 2014. PBoC's digital yuan would be first distributed to corporate banks, which would act as a mediator for businesses and persons, willing to open a digital wallet.

China seems to continue working towards wider blockchain adoption. However, plans for a "social credit system" rewarding good "behavior" via an aggressive surveillance approach is being set out. Furthermore, a state-issued digital currency means the Chinese government could oversee every transaction, as well as keep track on the financial history.

Surprisingly, Qatar's government banned all sorts of "virtual asset services" in the country. The ban means Qatar becomes a restricted area for crypto and blockchain businesses. The ban includes exchanging virtual assets for other virtual assets, or fiat, as well as crypto funds management and safekeeping.

Qatar's financial regulator noted, however, that digital securities do not fall under the ban, as they are under the legislation of Qatar's Central Bank, Qatar's Financial Markets Authority, or the Regulatory Authority.

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