Since 2008, Bitcoin was heralded for its potential to replace the classic banking model for both businesses and consumers.
Cryptocurrencies have been massively successful; Bitcoin is now the most popular cryptocurrency, with a market cap of over $187B. A research conducted by Cambridge University published this year says that there are between 2.9M and 5.8M unique users actively using a crypto-wallet.
Despite its massive popularity, cryptocurrencies are not welcome everywhere yet. Let’s talk about a few Bitcoin-friendly countries included in the top list towards the end of 2017. This list is not in perfect order and these countries are actually part of a much larger list of bitcoin-friendly nations and governments so it's far from comprehensive. Circumstances change and some news may not have been taken into account.
Imagine a country where everything that’s new in the digital world is not only tested but also implemented. -Where the internet is a basic human right and where everyone has a virtual presence. Well, this country actually exists and its name is Estonia. Known as the birthplace of Skype, it’s a sovereign state in Northern Europe, south of Finland. What’s interesting is its tech-friendly government is apparently willing to implement the latest innovations like blockchain technology for basic services like healthcare, banking and even governance by giving its citizens an option to become “e-Residents.” This service also offers digital authentication to Estonian businesses and citizens. It's also one of the pioneers of blockchain-based e-voting service that allows their people to participate in Nasdaq’s Tallinn Stock Exchange.
The Russian Deputy Finance Minister said late 2017 that regulators were planning to recognize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies legally in 2018. The government has been eager to address money laundering, which certainly encourages greater oversight and regulation, ultimately leading to its legitimacy.
Sberbank and VTB Group, among Russia’s biggest lenders, have created an innovative blockchain ledger called Masterchain, which will be used to assist in processing speedier transactions through the central bank.
Switzerland’s financial markets regulator has approved the first Swiss private bank for Bitcoin asset management, potentially paving the way for other global banks to offer digital currency products.
Zug has also been referred to as the Crypto Valley by Ethereum co-founder Mihai Alisie, due to the large number of companies engaged in cryptocurrency in the city.
Zug, Switzerland is also known as the “Crypto Valley” since many major blockchain companies have established their headquarters in the area. Ethereum, Tezos, Shapeshift and many other companies have established business in Switzerland due to its acceptance and support for blockchain technology.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory at the extreme south of Spain. It has launched into the blockchain revolution not long ago. Gibraltar has even launched a blockchain summit on February 8, 2018, which discussed the future of ICOs and regulations for blockchain technology.
Gibraltar was the first nation to establish regulatory framework for blockchain back in May 2017, which encouraged a safe environment for both investors and developers.
Japan has arguably become crypto-crazy recently when it introduced blockchain to many governmental sectors. Japan even passed a law declaring that Bitcoin is accepted as legal tender in April last year. This Asian country is now known worldwide as one of the Bitcoin-friendliest countries in the world.
It’s clear that Japan has adopted the crypto revolution wholeheartedly, and is home to the world’s first cryptocurrency themed J-pop band called “Virtual Currency Girls”— which is as bizarre as it sounds. More recently, the two largest crypto industry groups—the Japan Blockchain Association and the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association— have announced a merger that will create a self-regulatory body.
The country distinguishes itself from its neighbours, China where Bitcoin mining has been gradually reduced to a halt by the government and South Korea, where anonymous Bitcoin trading is already punishable by law. At a more extreme end of the spectrum, Bangladesh passed a law in 2014 stating that anybody caught using the virtual currency could be jailed under the country’s strict anti-money-laundering laws.
These countries on the list have different features that have made them nice places for Bitcoin exchanges to proliferate. There are only soft regulations which is totally fine for the average trader, technology acceptance is high and many businesses accepting Bitcoin are regarded as innovative and are growing fast. Cryptocurrency communities are also solid and fast-growing in these countries, pushing the cryptocurrency space to the next level.
Among other countries worth mentioning are Switzerland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, The United States and Singapore. Please feel free to add to the list any updates through your comments below.
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