Despite ban, Bitcoin crosses $50,000 in Morocco



You may think that cryptocurrencies are part of a wave globally, with individuals and companies rushing to adopt crypto as the price of various tokens continues to soar. However, that is not the case. While most major economies are looking at ways to regulate this space, and integrate crypto into their economic systems, many others have taken the opposite view, considering crypto to be a threat, and easy to use for criminal elements, and therefore have banned crypto transactions. India is one such example, where the government is reportedly looking to introduce a law which would ban all crypto holdings and transactions within the country, but simultaneously it is also going to allow its central bank to launch their own digital currency. Thus, the benefits of digital currencies are not lost on anyone, it is simply a matter of control. In this vein, Morocco is another such country where crypto trading has been banned, but despite this, Bitcoin managed to cross $50,000 (446,000 MAD) earlier this month.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been banned in Morocco since 2017, due to concerns around using ‘hidden’ payment systems and the accompanying security risks. According to the Moroccan Foreign Exchange Office, ‘financial transactions with foreign countries must be carried out through authorized intermediaries and with foreign currencies listed by Bank Al-Magrib’ (the country’s central bank). Thus, trading in crypto in Morocco can draw heavy fines. However, despite these measures, Morocco is the fourth-largest market for Bitcoin trading in Africa, only behind Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. It is the 36th largest market in the world, and the biggest in Northern Africa, which shows just how popular crypto trading has become over the past year.

Cryptocurrencies have not just been popular as trading and investment vehicles – they are also being used to change operations in many sectors. In the case of online gambling, for example, cryptocurrencies are now being offered as an option for players wishing to make bets. Thus, they can place bets on online casino games through Bitcoin, Ether and other popular crypto tokens. These changes have allowed players on such sites to take advantage of crypto tokens and their features, such as anonymity, quicker and more reliable transactions, and greater confidence in the games themselves. Crypto transactions are extremely safe, with the blockchain networks underpinning them allowing customers to be relaxed about the prospect of potential fraud. There are many more historical facts and developments about crypto gambling available on the Winz blog, which will show how crypto is helping to transform traditional sectors online.

Thus, this is an example of crypto’s popularity across the world and in various areas, and so it is perhaps not surprising that despite being banned, it has still managed to enter Moroccan trading and investment circles. It is also being given religious backing – while some have believed that crypto trading could be forbidden under Islamic law as it could constitute gambling, many reputed scholars and Sharia law experts are stating that crypto trading is permissible. This is helping a growing acceptance of crypto in the wider Arab world as well. The UAE is among the top 20 in the world for crypto trading, for example, with Dubai having become one of the global hubs for crypto trading. Elsewhere, Ain Shams University in Egypt has begun graduate-level courses in computer engineering based on crypto and blockchain, due to the demand for such courses from students. Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries in terms of crypto, recently hosted the World Blockchain Summit in 2018.

These examples show how the Arab world is slowly waking up to the potential of cryptocurrencies, even though many countries are still yet to legalize crypto trading. This is surely not too far away though, especially if the benefits of blockchain and crypto continue to be realized.

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