First Published: 2017-11-21

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions
Currency regulator announces ban on transactions in bitcoin, other virtual currencies one week after Moroccan digital services company said it would accept payment in bitcoin.
Middle East Online

Local media outlets have estimated that virtual payments worth around $200,000 pass through Morocco each day

RABAT - Morocco's currency regulator has announced a ban on transactions in bitcoin and other virtual currencies, in a country where foreign exchange flows are tightly controlled.

"Transactions via virtual currencies constitute a breach of regulations, punishable by penalties and fines," the Offices des Changes said in a statement on its website.

The announcement came a week after Moroccan digital services company MTDS said it would accept payment in bitcoin.

MTDS said it was the first time the regulator had taken a clear position on bitcoin payments.

MTDS head Karl Stanzik said the company had dropped its proposal in order to "comply with Moroccan law" but that it would be "very difficult to control" bitcoin transactions due to the currency's secretive nature.

Unlike physical currencies, bitcoin and other so-called crypto-currencies are not backed by states or regulated by central banks.

Instead, they derive their value from decentralised ledger systems known as blockchains for verifying transactions and the contents of virtual wallets.

"As secretive payment systems not backed by financial institutions... virtual currencies involve significant risks for their users," the Offices des Changes said.

It added that all of Morocco's financial transactions with foreign countries must go through intermediaries approved by the authorities and be carried out in foreign currencies listed by Bank Al-Maghrib, the country's central bank.

Local media outlets have estimated that virtual payments worth around $200,000 (170,000 euros) pass through Morocco each day, although an exact figure is extremely difficult to verify.

One bitcoin was worth over $8,200 (7,000 euros) on Tuesday, up from less than $1,000 at the start of 2017.

 

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Russia denies Ďgroundlessí accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israelís gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal