Following Bitcoin's all-year highs in 2017 and its sudden fall in the beginning of 2018, cryptos have started to let off steam even more (the trend may be reversing as this article is being written). As certain countries like China are trying to or have already prohibited the use and trade of Bitcoin across exchanges, and online advertising giants like Facebook and Google chained in to ban ICO advertisement, cryptocurrencies hogged the limelight of the press more than ever before.
Dubbed 'The Year of Cryptocurrencies', 2018 opens a new chapter in the history of finance – BLOCKCHAINIZATION. As the blockchain is taking over the world, in their effort to keep up with the developments, certain governments and key international financial institutions have attempted to address the thorny issue of cryptocurrency stability, by taking steps to regulate the digital currency market like Korea, other nations have embraced a more progressive vision. Apart from being corners of the taxation paradise, these 7 crypto-hottest countries have built a reputation for providing a safe haven for the ever-growing blockchain community to explore, innovate and create.
Switzerland, the country of bankers has recently caught the eye of international media for putting together a revolutionary framework to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs). The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) came forward with the guidelines to support local startups in launching their ICOs in compliance with governmental law.
According to FINMA Chief Mark Branson, the novel regulatory framework is intended to promote the development of ICOs in a legally-compliant manner.
Switzerland's position regarding ICOs is opposed to the stance of countries like China or Korea, who have taken measures to ban initial coin offerings.
Despite the vehement stance of the Chinese government against cryptocurrencies in general, and Bitcoin, in particular, rumour goes around that soon after the authorities banned ICOs and closed down domestic cryptocurrency exchanges, local investors found another fancy coin to throw their money into – OneCoin. Developed by Chinese crypto company Xunlei, the cryptocurrency is not widely available across exchanges, however, it rocks secondary marketplaces. This has pushed Xunlei on the top place on Nasdaq for several months at the end of last year. So how is it, China? Are we facing an initial step toward cryptocurrency nationalization?
Synonymous with all things tech, Japan is one of the most crypto-friendly countries and a major financial hub. It was only one year ago that the country officially recognized cryptocoins as legal tender and provides a flexible legal framework for cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain companies to thrive. Local media are not shy to admit that the Japanese Yen covers more than 50% of the global Bitcoin trade.
Chaining in the crypto trend every step of the way, Japan is home to the first pop female band advocating cryptocurrency dubbed 'Virtual Currency Girls', which is as 'cryptic' as it sounds.
Taking blockchain seriously, the Japan Blockchain Association and the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association have officially announced their merger, which will form a self-regulatory body. Who says that decentralization means de-regulation or the lack of regulation?
Shattered by Brexit negotiations, the UK is home to a thriving crypto community. In pretty much the same way as Japan has seen two blockchain giants join hands to set the cornerstone for free, legit cryptocurrency trade, the UK has witnessed the 'coalition' of seven of the country's largest cryptocurrency companies to form CryptoUK, which the first British self-regulating cryptocurrency organization.
CryptoUK aims at working in tandem with the government to support UK's crypto startups and platforms and ensure they are compliant with the AML and KYC regulations in force. According to CryptoUK Chairman Iqbal Grandham, the institution's main purpose is to "promote best practice and to work with government and regulators" and paving the way for "what a future regulatory framework will look like".
The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), which is the authority governing all the financial activities in the country. However, under current regulations, the governmental body's power does not expand over cryptocurrency exchanges, brokerages, and business, which therefore linger in some grey area of the economic realm, enjoying a great degree of freedom regarding the way they conduct their operations. This has made the UK a paradise for blockchain organizations.
CryptoUK, therefore, aims to assist the UK government in regulating the activities of these companies and integrate cryptocurrencies into daily economic life.
Apart from being Europe's sin city, Amsterdam is reputed amongst crypto enthusiasts as the 'Bitcoin Embassy' and home to a large and buzzing crypto community extremely busy advocating widespread adoption of the most expensive cryptocoin.
However, despite the nation's openness to going crypto and the government experimenting with crypto technology, with De Nederlandsche Bank launching their own cryptocurrency, DNBcoin, little steps have been taken in the direction of creating a regulatory framework for crypto activities in the Netherlands. But, there is hope for improvement as the Dutch Blockchain Coalition or Dutch Digital Delta is a well-established organization reuniting 20 different institutions that aims to put the basis of a viable methodology to enforce digital identities to keep up with shifting KYC and AML procedures.
Following recent advice from the European Securities and Markets Authority, the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets is taking measures to provide a legal framework to legitimize token crowdsales.
If there is one country that can brag about being a crypto paradise, that's Denmark. Being completely tax-free when it comes to cryptocurrency activities, Denmark provides a perfect environment for blockchain startups and crypto exchanges. However, the country does not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender, as they have no 'issuer' and therefore any undertakings involving cryptos exist somewhere in a grey area, outside the legal framework.
Having released several warnings about the speculative nature of cryptocurrency investment, the Danish government adopted a "hands-off" stance with regard to crypto regulation, throwing the ball in the EU's court. This somewhat cautious position of the authorities, combined with the absence of any tax interference as well as the lack of regulation, places Denmark among the crypto-hottest countries.
According to a recent survey conducted by multinational Internet service provider Yandex, most of the Kazakhstanis' searches at the beginning of 2018 related to cryptocurrency. The survey revealed that among the preferred topics of the users, cryptocurrency-related ones are top of the list as most of the key phrases contain words like 'cryptocurrency', 'blockchain', 'crypto mining', 'how to buy crypto', and the like.
Additionally, the word 'cryptocurrency' appeared 15 times more in Internet searches compared to 2017, local news outlet Zakon reports.
Specific coin-related searches like for 'bitcoin', Yandex pulled 7 times more answers than in 2017, the publication notes.
With regard to specific searches, Kazakhstani users were more inclined to look for information concerning bitcoin, blockchain, initial coin offerings (ICOs), how rewarding mining is, or even "can a schoolboy work for bitcoin?" Users seemed to be also concerned about crypto mining malware. So, the fact that four employees in Kazakhstan's Ministry of Finance were caught in the act of crypto mining in February is no surprise at all.
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