Pakistan Banning Cryptocurrencies… Or Not?

Yesterday the State Bank of Pakistan, the national bank supervising all financial operations, outed a circular declaring its negative opinion about cryptocurrencies in general and taking action in consequence. In that circular, signed by Muhammad Akhtar Javed, the director of the bank, they declare that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in the country, and goes to the extreme of naming a few coins by name: Pakcoin, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Pakcoin, OneCoin, DasCoin, Pay Diamond and ICO tokens. These coins and any crypto are not legal or supported by the State Bank of Pakistan.
Then it goes to the interesting thing of the affair. It states that:

…all Banks/ DFIs/ Microfinance Banks and Payment System Operators (PSOs)/Payment Service Providers (PSPs) are advised to refrain from processing, using, trading, holding, transferring value, promoting and investing in Virtual Currencies/Tokens. Further, banks/DFIs/Microfinance Banks and PSOs/PSPs will not facilitate their customers/account holders to transact in VCs/ICO Tokens. Any transaction in this regard shall immediately be reported to Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) as a suspicious transaction.”

This was interpreted by some like a complete ban on the cryptocurrency market in Pakistan. This caused quite the uproar there due to the nature of Pakistan, a country that is home to many little (and not so little) exchanges, and even has a regional cryptocurrency created there, the Pakcoin, also named in the statement. But, much like the press release of the Reserve Bank in India, we believe that the spirit of the measure taken is that of decoupling the cryptocurrency payment system from the banking platform.
This will just only affect those that openly transact from cryptos to fiat directly using banks accounts, like exchanges. These will surely will have to move their fiat money to other banks, but there are alternatives. Much like in India, people will find ways of circumventing this kind of half taken measures, because cryptocurrencies were made for avoiding them. Decentralization of operations was the first and most important objective of cryptos when they were created. So, dissecting the communicate, it does not seem that a full ban on crypto is declared, but even if it is, cryptocurrencies were made for that. the complete statement can be read here.

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