BitCoin is the best-known of all the cryptocurrencies, however legal status of the sale and even possession of the digital token varies across the world. But where exactly is bitcoin legal, and which countries have placed restrictions or bans on its trade?
New research compiling data from countries around the globe shows nearly 100 nations have no restrictions on bitcoin and are either “enthusiastic for them, or are neutral”.
Ten nations are actively opposed to cryptocurrencies – with some going as far as criminalising their sale.
A further seven have enacted regulations on the sale and use of the digital currency, though the scope of these rules varies by country.
However, according to analysis by cryptocurrency site CoinWriting, governments in the vast majority of counties are yet to decide on which path to take and have expressed no opinion either way on them.
According to the map, bitcoin is legal in most of North America, Europe, Central Asia and Australia.
Countries with restrictions in place include China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Egypt.
The research found bitcoin was completely outlawed in 10 counties: Iceland, Vietnam, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Russia, Algeria, Nepal, Bangladesh and Morocco.
The analysis concludes Western nations are “generally more open to cryptocurrencies whereas Eastern countries are sceptical”.
But it also warns that, because most countries have yet to make their position clear, there was the possibility of a run of nations “coming out against cryptocurrencies, tipping the global balance against bitcoin”.
The research found the 10 countries which had outlawed bitcoin were largely concerned the digital currency poses a threat to traditional banks while others are worried about their lack of traceability and potential use for illegal activities.
According to the market study, Iceland banned bitcoin trading because it was incompatible with the country’s monetary laws which are in place to “protect the exodus of Icelandic currency”.
In Vietnam, officials have reportedly outlawed the use of bitcoin because of its links to criminal gangs and its potential use as a vehicle for money laundering.
The research also reveals a huge difference in attitude towards the cryptocurrency across individual US states.
The study sorts America’s 50 states as either “friendly”, “murky” or “hostile” to bitcoin and other altcoins based on the laws they have enacted.
“Friendly” states include Texas, which according to the study does not require those wishing to trade in cryptocurrencies to have a “money transmitter’s” license.
“Hostile” states include Washington state, which includes digital currency in its legal definition of money, meaning a special permit may be required in the future.
Officials in the region have also warned of the impact electricity-intensive Bitcoin mining is having on the state’s electricity grid.
However, the research finds the picture in the US mirrors that of the global view, with a majority of states stating no opinion.
The ever-volatile bitcoin has faced another turbulent month, peaking at a value of around $11,500 on March 5 and since dropping to $8,572 as of 3.30pm GMT today (Thursday).
News of restrictions on adverts promoting the sale of the digital currency is sure to have played some part in its fall, with reports surfacing this week Twitter is expected to follow Facebook and Google in banning the ads.
And in the UK, Chancellor Phillip Hammond this week announced the creation of a so-called “crypto task force” to “help the UK to manage the risks around crypto-assets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology.”