In the Southeast Asian country, cryptocurrency transactions have been met with resistance after Myanmar’s central bank said crypto is not an official currency. Reported Myanmar Times, a news outlet.
However, the central bank’s stance is seen as responding to the heightened activities around virtual currencies in the country in the recent past. The recent surge in crypto prices, especially Bitcoin, also swept across Myanmar, which led to more people in the country investing in cryptocurrencies. To cater to the demand, firms offering crypto services such as exchanges, took to social media to array their services.
It was at this point that the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM), sought to contain the situation by saying it doesn’t recognize cryptocurrency transactions. In a country that was only ramping up exposure to Bitcoin among other virtual currencies, CBM’s announcement renders the relationship between cryptocurrency and Myanmar unstable.
Apart from CBM’s stand on cryptocurrency transactions, the country has been facing information and language barrier, further reducing the number of Myanmarese crypto investors.
As noted by the Myanmar Times:
“It is difficult to find reliable information in the Myanmar language about Bitcoin. [Also] there are a few Facebook groups and Skybit (a cryptocurrency platform), and that’s about it.”
Some, however, have a different view of CBM’s announcement. For example, U Nyein Chan Soe Win, a financial technology expert in Myanmar, said:
“The CBM has not prohibited the use of cryptocurrencies under the law. It has just issued an announcement. As there is no official law, it can’t be said that trading digital currencies is illegal. Before making crypto illegal, its impact on the local and compatibility with existing policies should first be analyzed and discussed.”
Does Myanmar have some big brothers to look up to if it decides to allow cryptocurrency transactions?
Yes! Although Asian countries are divided between banning, regulating, and assuming a somewhat neutral position when it comes to cryptocurrencies, Myanmar definitely has neighbors from whom it can borrow an idea or two if it decides to follow the regulatory path.
For instance, Japan
This stands as a critical country on matters crypto in the Asian world. Additionally, Bitcoin’s anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, may have been originally from Japan. In the early days of crypto, Japan distanced itself from touching crypto from a regulatory standpoint. However, this changed in 2014 when Mt Gox, a collapsed crypto exchange based in the country, lost investors’ funds through a hack. Since then, the country has evolved in formulating conducive crypto regulations. It has even recognized Bitcoin as a legal tender
South Korea is also among the top crypto markets in the world. From a hard stand at the beginning, the country has managed to forge a good relationship with cryptocurrencies through regulations. Although it has not cemented its place like Japan, it’s moving in the right direction.
Other Asian countries that have embraced cryptocurrencies include Thailand, which also has a tax system that enables it to keep a share of the crypto proceeds.
If Myanmar decided to go the other way, it has India and China as examples.