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Morocco Authorities Impose Ban and Penalties for Cryptocurrency Use

The Foreign Exchange Office (Office des Changes), the FX regulator in Morocco, today laid down stringent rules explicitly banning the use of cryptocurrency.

In an announcement revealed Tuesday, it is now illegal to issue, supply or otherwise use cryptocurrency because it has been designated an illegal means of payment.

The regulator’s notice clarified that the only officially accepted means of payment are those approved by the country’s central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib. Additionally, the financial transactions must be made only via Morocco’s authorized intermediaries using the approved foreign currencies.

Nonetheless, it is unclear how the government plans to track cryptocurrency transactions, with some start-ups already stating that they will begin to roll out this line of business in the North African country. The watchdog has not made any reference to cryptocurrency operators hosted in the country or its mining activities.

Finally, Office des Changes noted that lack of central regulation, while attractive to many users, has allowed criminals to launder money and evade taxation without consequences. Thus, transactions via digital currencies constitute an infringement of the nation’s forex regulations and are subject to penalties and fines.

The move against cryptocurrency follows similar bans in several developing countries. Last month, Vietnam’s central bank ruled that cryptocurrency like Bitcoin are prohibited as a method of payment in the country, saying that such transactions may be subject to a minimum fine of 150 million dong (roughly US$6,600).

Bitcoin recently hit fresh record highs around the $8200 mark, marking a more than 700 percent rally year-to-date. There are optimistic forecasts for the currency, with some analysts expecting the price to go as high as $10,000 before the end of this year.

The surging prices and huge market capitalization have made financial authorities around the world increasingly interested in ways to curb the business, especially as more retail investors are getting involved in the market.


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