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Malaysia: Government Still Undecided About Cryptocurrency

Malaysia: Government Still Undecided About Cryptocurrency

The Federal Territory Minister in Malaysia Khalid Abdul Samad has said that the current status of cryptocurrency in the country is undecided. He made the comment during a charity event organized by Pertubuhan Kebajikan Insaniah Srikandi Malaysia.

In the comment, he said: “At the moment, the answer is neither legal nor illegal as the situation is unclear.” This was in response to a question about the legal status of cryptocurrency.

Samad was involved in the development and launch of the controversial Harapan Coin – a project dubbed the ‘world’s first crypto-politic ICO’ – said to be a platform that will revolutionize Malaysian politics. He disclosed that he was not appointed as finance minister, but the federal territory minister, which made crypto regulations hardly a subject particular to his jurisdiction. “As the matter is not under my jurisdiction, I cannot push too much,” he said.

However, Samad reportedly proposed the adoption of Harapan Coin to Malaysia’s Central Bank, the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. However, questions have been raised about the functional and clarity of purpose of the Harapan Coin by a select few, including former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In November last year, the finance minister of Malaysia Lim Guan Eng confirmed that a digital asset regulatory framework is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2019. This regulatory framework, which has been in motion for over a year now was intended to help the cryptocurrency industry without compromising on their financial system.

The report in November further suggested that the regulatory framework will most certainly include standards for both cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offering (ICO).

For now, any project that intends to issue cryptocurrency in Malaysia would have to go through the country’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). More so, cryptocurrency exchanges have been reporting their data to the bank in order to forge a system to watch for money laundering activities. However, the Bank has stated explicitly that this in no way provides a certification of services by the exchange.

So far, the development of the industry has leaned more to the blockchain scope and while the regulatory stance of the financial watchdog is still underway, blockchain use cases are still spreading, this includes the recently developed remittance system and the proposed blockchain-based degree verification system.

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Malaysia to Release Crypto Regulations in Q1 2019

In a local news report, Finance Minister of Malaysia Lim Guan Eng confirmed today that a digital asset regulatory framework that will include cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICO) will be released and enforced during the first quarter of 2019.

Over a year ago, the Malaysia central bank began the development of a pro-blockchain and underlying asset regulatory framework to facilitate the development of the digital asset industry in the country without compromising its own financial system.

This effort was further clarified in a previous interview where Lim said, “It is not that we wish to obstruct (cryptocurrency) as we are keeping an open mind. But it is still subject to existing laws.” He added that any party wanting to include cryptocurrency would have to first refer to the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia.

According to Lim, the interest of investors is a priority and needs safeguarding, saying, “While some parties might still be skeptical of this space, there can be no doubt that we need appropriate regulations to be put in place and enforced to safeguard the interest of investors.” He further hinted that the regulation is part of the Securities Commission’s efforts towards promoting the ideas of the new funding options for businesses and the rise of the new investment digital asset classes.

Further, while keeping an open mind is the current stance of the parliament towards these digital enterprises, the government is also breaking grounds through co-investment fund in alternative financing such as equity crowdfunding (ECF) and peer-to-peer financing (P2P) platforms.

“We are keen on the continued development of such alternative financing avenues for these businesses beyond the traditional channels of financing,” he said.

So far, recent blockchain developments in Malaysia include its education sector considering blockchain solution in combating degree fraud. However, it seems the case of Harapan Coin, a project speculated to become a Malaysian centrally-banked cryptocurrency, has yet to garner significant support.

 

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