Blockchain and Bitcoin Regulations Around the World

Virtual currency and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are disrupting many industries including finance, retail, entertainment and everything in between. These technologies enable financial transactions to be processed, contracts to be signed, and records to be securely stored without middle men – decreasing the role of lawyers, data storage providers, financial institutions, and others.  Because of this, governments and agencies around the world are attempting to regulate blockchain and virtual currency. Without uniformity of regulation, growth may be stunted, and innovation stifled. As blockchain and virtual currency have increased in popularity, so has the importance of consistent international regulations.

Approaches to regulating DLT and virtual currency vary immensely country by country. Laws and regulatory guidance in these areas range from nonexistent to stringent. A few countries have even gone as far as banning virtual currency completely. Others are considering creating a national virtual currency, potentially eliminating the need for cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Yet some countries have not legislated at all, continuing to study the possible risks and benefits of virtual currency use and blockchain in government. For a summary of international regulations, refer to the table below.

Please note that regulations in the European Union and United Arab Emirates may differ among member nations. EU regulatory actions are issued by the European Commission, European Parliament, the EBA and ESMA. This table displays existing law, guidance and pending legislation in the form of bills (which are marked appropriately).

To learn about blockchain and virtual currency regulations in the United States, check out our Overview of Blockchain & Bitcoin 50 State Law!

 

New to blockchain and/or virtual currency? Check out our free Blockchain Glossary to learn key terms.  

 

Topic of Regulatory Action
Japan
SwitzerlandChinaEUSouth KoreaCanadaIndiaUnited Arab Emirates (varies state by state)SingaporeMexicoUKDenmark Sweden
Legal status of virtual currency
Currency/Monetary Instrument; Legal TenderLegal TenderBannedLegal Tender No status designation Commodity BannedBanned; Commodity
Defined as not Legal Tender No status designationNo status designationDefined as neither Currency nor Monetary InstrumentDefined as neither Currency nor Monetary Instrument
Established DLT/virtual currency working group YesYesYes-YesYesYesNoNoNoYesNoNo
Created taxes for DLT/virtual currency businessesYesYes-NoYesYes--Yes (pending legislation)-YesYesYes
Permitting payment of state fees or taxes with virtual currency -Yes-----------
Required virtual currency businesses to meet registration or licensing standardsYesYes--YesYes-YesYes (pending legislation)YesYes--
Virtual currency is subject to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing LawsYesYes-YesYesYes--YesYesYesYes (pending legislation)-
Support of DLT initiatives--YesYesYes---Yes-YesYes-
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are actively regulatedNoYesYes-Yes (pending legislation)--NoYes--YesNo
Exploring creation of national virtual currency--YesNo---Yes----Yes
Issued consumer warnings on the risks of virtual currency--YesYes--YesYesYesYes-YesYes