The FINANCIAL -- After a long silence the National Bank of Georgia has joined the list of countries whose national banks expressed themselves on cryptocurrency industry. The sector, at large, remains unregulated on the global scale. Therefore, due to their lack of stability, they present high financial risks for their customers, it said. NBG's response on The FINANCIAL request on commentary three months ago was that “at that particular point, cryptocurrencies had minor influence on traditional currencies. However, rapid growth of market capitalization and the popularity of cryptocurrencies could change the situation. That is why they were monitoring the situation closely and were ready to intervene”.
Since then, cryptocurrency industry has grown more than fourfold, with the market cap hitting 622 billion dollars as of December 20th, 2017, up from the 150-billion-dollar figure in September.
National Bank of Georgia is yet to announce any legislative measures on cryptocurrency industry. However, today, on 20th December, 2017, they issued a statement warning the citizens on dangers presented by this highly volatile market.
“Lately, cryptocurrency industry has seen a surge in popularity of unprecedented levels. National Bank of Georgia would like to warn citizens on this matter.
Cryptocurrencies do not represent means of legal payment in Georgia. Any sort of activity conducted within this sector is not regulated by legislature and therefore is not a sphere of influence of NBG.
Several externalities need to be taken into consideration with the cryptocurrency market:
Today’s cryptocurrencies are characterized by massive fluctuations in value, which are caused by speculative behavior. Therefore, due to their lack of stability, they present high financial risks for their customers.
Virtual currencies do not have centralized managing bodies, which means that any disputes between parties will be difficult to resolve.
Large portion of cryptocurrency trade is conducted through exchange platforms and digital wallets, which are based in many different countries. Legal status of such entities is, most of the time, ambiguous. Therefore, customers who use such entities for financial transactions risk both legal and financial complications. At the same time, such platforms are potential targets for cyber-attacks.
Anonymity of cryptocurrencies attracts illegal entities and activities like money laundering.
National Bank of Georgia calls for citizens to be cautious when dealing with cryptocurrencies and take the aforementioned points into consideration.”
Georgia is home to BitFury, one of the largest producers of Bitcoin mining hardware and chips. BitFury currently mines about 15% of all bitcoins. It's third in the list of biggest mining pools after China and U.S.
Last week hhe head of the Danish central bank has warned investors to "stay away" from bitcoin. As reported by state broadcaster DR, Danmarks Nationalbank director Lars Rohde argued that bitcoin is "dangerous" and, likening bitcoin investment to gambling , he said: "If you do not like casinos, you've got a good alternative."
Several U.S. states plan to approve the acceptance or promotion of the use of bitcoin and blockchain technology, while some have already passed them into law according to Bitcoin magazine, including Arizona (recognition of smart contracts), Vermont (blockchain as evidence) and Delaware (pending initiative authorizing registration of shares of Delaware companies in blockchain form).
Austria regulates financial services involving virtual currencies.
In Australia Digital currency exchanges will be subject to registration and regulation in mid-2018, once amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 take effect. Digital currency transactions are no longer subject to goods and services taxes (GST) but remain subject to incomes and capital gains taxes.
On June 16, 2017, the National Bank of Belgium issued a report on the threat of digital currencies to monetary policy—concluding that “any threats to monetary stability caused by digital currencies issued by private players are rather limited at this point.”
The Government of Bermuda announced it will begin to regulate virtual currency exchanges, coins and securitized tokens, in early 2018. The new regulation would include the activities of firms, operating in or from Bermuda, that use distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to store or transmit value.
In Bulgaria Personal income from the sale or exchange of bitcoin is taxable, and will be treated as income from sale of financial assets.
On May 25, 2017, the Bank of Canada stated that its experiment with blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, showed it is currently not compatible with operating the country’s centralized interbank payment systems.
Financial institutions and third-party payment providers are banned from accepting, using, or selling virtual currencies. Although its use remains legal, the People’ s Bank of China has required exchanges to register with the appropriate regulatory authorities and has suggested it will closely watch the markets. The People’s Bank of China has allegedly warned banks from working with virtual currency-related businesses.
On Sept. 7, 2017, European Central Bank President Draghi rejected Estonia’s plans to launch its own state-run digital currency, “estcoin,” and indicated that the ECB would not allow Estonia or any other EU member state to introduce its own currency
Bank of France has issued warnings similar to other European nations. There were informal indications that France might have been willing to allow virtual currency companies to operate as payment service providers under French law, and France has now indicated it will implement customer identity verification rules for virtual currency platforms.
Virtual currencies are financial instruments under German law and, more specifically, are a form of “private money” that can be taxed as capital. Certain uses may also require a license or permit.
On Nov. 15, 2017, Germany’s Federal Financial Authority (BaFin) released a statement warning consumers of the risks of initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Japan approved a law regulating Virtual Currencies on May 25, 2016 which was promulgated on June 3, 2016. The law was enacted and came into effect on April 1, 2017.
In Dec. 2017, Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Aleksey Moiseev indicated that the Russian government is working on laws to regulate digital currencies, but proposed that mining of digital currencies will become illegal.
On Oct. 10, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin directed his government and the Central Bank to issue an official cryptocurrency, the “cryptoruble.”
On Sept. 29, 2017, Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued guidance on the increase in initial coin offerings (ICOs) within the country. Additionally, FINMA is investigating several ICOs to determine whether the issuers of those ICOs violated current regulations