Malaysia won’t say goodbye to Bitcoin

Last year was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for cryptocurrencies. Extreme highs included Bitcoin and other altcoins reaching unprecedented heights in terms of price, and popularity. In addition, Bitcoin futures were introduced, and well-established financial institutions have finally begun to start noticing the positive effects of virtual currencies.

There were also a few dramatic lows including price drops and exchange hacks. However, a hard blow came in the form of countries prohibiting digital currencies, with China banning both ICOs and Bitcoin exchanges.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Some governments have embraced the industry and are working towards integrating it into their financial systems in some way.

One such country is Malaysia. Johari Abdul Ghani, the Finance Minister of the country, has said that the central bank will not ban virtual currencies as this would “curb innovation and creativity in the financial sector”.

According to Ghani, the country would instead work towards finding “a balance between public interest and integrity of the financial system”.

He went on to add:

“It is not the intention of the authorities to ban or put a stop on any innovation that is perceived to be beneficial to the public.”

This positive news comes not long after the governor of the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Muhammad bin Ibrahim, said something a bit different in October last year. He stated that he could not conclusively confirm that a crypto ban would not occur in the future.

Even though the country is not criminalizing crypto, Ghani has said that the central bank will concentrate on the

“need to have proper regulation and supervision to ensure any risk associated with such schemes are effectively contained.”

Ghani touched on how important virtual currencies are for the development of the country’s current financial ecosystem. Not only would it improve productivity, but it would also allow financial intermediation to be “more seamless”.

The country has plans to be part of the ongoing digital revolution, and Ghani added that cryptocurrencies and their e-wallets are “part and parcel” of this.

In addition, he mentioned that crypto regulation would only be considered once the authorities have a “thorough understanding” of the industry. He explained:

“This is particularly relevant to [a] recent innovation like Bitcoin, which remains unregulated globally and not battle-tested against shocks, unlike more conventional mediums of exchange.”

Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain are seen as disruptive technologies, which may conjure up negative associations. However, as the world moves on, the reality of getting left behind starts to set in. Well-established practices and procedures will likely not have a place in the new and decentralized future. Countries who don’t hop on board the Blockchain bandwagon may get left behind, to the detriment of their economy.

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