Just after Morocco’s Trade and Development Services (MTDS)—an internet and IT solutions provider in the country—announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, the Foreign Exchange Office and the central bank have both announced that they are banning the use of cryptocurrencies.
“Penalties and fines will apply to anyone engaging in transactions with foreign countries that do not go through authorized intermediaries or in foreign currencies not listed by Bank Al-Maghrib,” read a statement by the Foreign Exchange Office.
This effectively bans cryptocurrencies and a large number of fiat currencies in Morocco. Whether the move will translate into a de-facto practice or not is questionable.
Bitcoin has been a notoriously difficult currency to regulate since its circulation is difficult to track geographically.
A person holding the cryptocurrency in their wallet can simply use onion routing, foreign proxies, or virtual private networks to evade geographical detection when making payments.
In its press release, the Foreign Exchange Office added that “the use of cryptocurrencies entails significant risks for their users.”
They are right, however, in saying that cryptocurrencies work through a “hidden payment system that is not backed by any financial institution,” which might help shed some more light into the real reason why they wanted to ban them in the first place.
Morocco adds one more country to the short list of entities that have clamped down on the cryptocurrency space entirely.
At the end of last month, Vietnam has also banned Bitcoin and other digital currencies as forms of payment, imposing a penalty that could reach up to $8,800. Ironically, that is around $500 shy of the price of one Bitcoin today.
North Korea, on the other hand, has begun seeing Bitcoin as a way around sanctions, since its business partners in China might be willing to accept it as a clandestine method of paying for their products and services.