Crypto Around the World: The Most and Least Crypto-Friendly countries
When talking about crypto-friendly and crypto-unfriendly countries, it is essential to understand the meaning of these terms. It is hardly appropriate to determine the crypto friendliness of a country based on the number of crypto users and acceptance of digital assets among the enthusiasts. Also, it is doubtful that countries can be considered pro-crypto if their governments take no measures towards crypto adoption, refraining from introducing even basic regulations and leaving this sphere in a gray "Wild West" area without rules and laws.
So, in this article, we will consider a country crypto-friendly if it has a legal structure that enables use, trade, and possession of cryptocurrencies, and an environment that encourages increased cryptocurrency use, including but not limited to favorable taxation conditions. Conversely, a country will be viewed as crypto-unfriendly if it prohibits using, trading, and possessing cryptocurrencies or imposes severe restrictions on them. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the most and least crypto-friendly countries out there.
From crypto havens to cryptocurrency bans: Top pro- and anti-crypto countries
With constantly changing legislation and newly introduced regulations, it is difficult to create an exhaustive list of pro-crypto and anti-crypto countries that would include all the nuances. Therefore, for this article, we will rather focus on a representative sample that includes some of the most and least crypto-friendly countries, broadly illustrating the global crypto geography and demonstrating the most interesting examples of crypto regulations.
The most crypto-friendly countries
In Europe, the title of one of the most crypto-friendly countries undoubtedly belongs to Switzerland. Since Switzerland is a confederation, the most significant decisions regarding crypto can be seen on the example of individual cities and administrative units rather than the country as a whole. For example, the city of Lugano in southern Switzerland is one of very few municipalities where cryptocurrencies have a status close to legal tender, and local residents can use them to pay taxes and make purchases. The Canton of Zug is home to the "Crypto Valley", a crypto hub dedicated to innovation and promotion of cryptocurrencies. In addition, it is Switzerland where some of the most influential crypto organizations, including the Ethereum Foundation, are located.
Malta is another European crypto haven whose liberal financial laws and generally positive attitude towards cryptocurrencies at the official level have made it popular not only among traders and investors, but also among prominent crypto players. Thus, for some time, even Binance, the largest crypto exchange in the world, had its headquarters in this island nation. Malta was one of the first countries in the world to introduce official crypto regulations in 2018, and these regulations were not restrictive at all. They cemented the absence of crypto taxes on long-term capital gains from crypto investment and the introduction of taxes of up to 35% on crypto trading, of which up to 30% could be subject to tax refunds. Therefore, from all points of view, Malta is one of the most attractive destinations for both individual crypto enthusiasts and large crypto companies.
Among Asian countries, the leading place in terms of crypto friendliness should be allocated to Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been regulating virtual currencies since 2014, providing guidelines that allow virtual currencies to effectively exist within its current regulations. The authorities of Singapore recognize cryptos as Digital Payment Tokens and do not impose any taxation on capital gains made from crypto investment. Meanwhile, businesses that use crypto are taxed within the standard patterns applicable for income taxes, which does not place crypto in any less advantageous position than any other assets. Due to favorable legislation and positive sentiment towards the industry, Singapore is a home to many notable crypto players, including Zilliqa and Crypto.com.
When one talks about crypto-friendly countries, it is impossible to ignore El Salvador. This small Central American country forever etched itself in the annals of crypto history on June 8, 2021, when its parliament voted to make Bitcoin legal tender, an asset suitable for making any payments and covering any monetary debts. Since then, Bitcoin can be used in El Salvador for any payment on par with the US Dollar, which is currently an official currency of the country. This radical, unprecedented move not only put El Salvador on the world's crypto map, but also made it one of the world’s most crypto-friendly countries, where crypto is approached in the same way as the national fiat currency, which cannot currently be said of any other state.
The most crypto-unfriendly countries
While not having the harshest anti-crypto regulations in the world, North Macedonia is still worthy of attention as the only European country to officially ban the use of crypto within its borders. However, unlike other anti-crypto countries (the list includes Algeria, China, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, Tunisia, and Qatar – some of them will be discussed below), the ban in North Macedonia is implicit, meaning that crypto activities are not a crime, but banks are prohibited from carrying out any transactions with them. Thus, North Macedonians are deprived of the possibility to convert their crypto savings into fiat or withdraw them from their accounts in any other way. This form of prohibition is undoubtedly more liberal than criminal prosecution for crypto activities; however, it certainly does not make life easier for crypto enthusiasts among citizens and non-residents dwelling in North Macedonia.
Qatar belongs to the list of countries that have banned crypto operations and crypto trading on their territory at the official level. The corresponding act was adopted in 2020 by the Qatar Financial Centre. It banned Qatari banks and financial sector institutions from exchanging cryptocurrencies, receiving or sending cryptocurrencies, or creating accounts and wallets to deal with cryptocurrencies. Security tokens unrelated to making payments turned out to be the only exceptions to which the ban did not extend. This ban was motivated by the concern of the Qatari government for the growth of money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities using cryptocurrencies. At the same time, Qatar, being a rich and tech-oriented country, is actively looking for alternatives, exploring the possibility of issuing its own centralized digital currencies.
In Egypt, the ban on crypto mining and crypto operations has been in place since 2018. This North African state stands out against the background of other crypto-unfriendly countries due to rather specific reasons that led to the implementation of the crypto ban. Thus, Dar Al-Ifta, the official advisory body that monitors the observance of Islamic religious norms in legislation, has declared blockchain operations with digital assets to be contrary to Sharia law because cryptos do not have any real-life value, which they view as making it similar to gambling or speculation. The corresponding fatwa was issued in January 2018 and immediately became legally binding. Since then, cryptocurrencies have remained illegal in this country.
Due to its size and impact on the international economy, China can be confidently placed at the top of the world's crypto-unfriendly countries. On the one hand, it may seem strange considering that this state actively focuses on the latest technology trends and innovations in a wide variety of fields. At the same time, given the centralized nature of state governance in China, it is quite logical that the government does not want to allow the creation of alternative financial systems, which crypto could easily become. China began imposing anti-crypto laws in 2017 by banning certain crypto exchanges. In 2021, a comprehensive ban on any operations related to the purchase and use of crypto, as well as crypto mining, was introduced. As of now, this ban is still active and violating it can lead to real prison terms.
The attitude towards cryptocurrencies varies around the world. Some countries, such as Switzerland, Malta, Singapore, or El Salvador, are happy to embrace this progressive asset and, as we can see, such a strategy only benefits their economies. In turn, other states, such as Qatar, Egypt, North Macedonia, or China, impose restrictive regulations or even prohibit the circulation of cryptocurrencies on their territory. As a result, they significantly limit their citizens' ability to succeed in the opportunity-filled (though not risk-free) crypto sphere.
We do not undertake to judge which of these states are right and which are wrong. However, if you live in a country where cryptocurrencies are allowed, this article is another reminder to appreciate your opportunities and make the most of them. After all, it is truly a gift to be able to buy crypto to your liking and dive into the world of new possibilities at any moment!
Disclaimer: Our content does not constitute financial advice. It is only intended for informational and educational purposes.