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Kazakhstan’s Int’l Finance Center Supports Crypto Innovation, Calls Regulation ‘Crucial’

The governor of Kazakhstan’s main financial hub has stated that while cryptocurrencies must be regulated, crypto and blockchain innovation will be supported, local news outlet Kazinform reports today, June 14.

Speaking at the “Blockchain Conference Astana,” the Astana International Financial Center’s (AIFC)  governor Kairat Kaliyev said specifically that the AIFC is paying special attention blockchain and cryptocurrencies:

“The problem of regulation of cryptocurrencies is being discussed very intensively. The AIFC has a solid position on this issue – it is crucial to regulate the circulation of cryptocurrencies.”

According to Kazinform, the AIFC’s Regulatory Authority plans to approve rules for crypto regulations this summer. Kaliyev notes that the center is working with international companies to develop appropriate regulation, also adding that the center provides financial assistance to support fintech innovation and arranges courses for blockchain and programming.

The AIFC is a free economic zone created with the intent to attract international trade and increase Kazakhstan’s role in global markets. The AIFC website refers to fintech development as “one of the main strategic directions activities [sic]” of the financial hub.

At the end of May, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev called for international cooperation for cryptocurrency regulation. The Kazakhstani public has also shown increased interest in cryptocurrency. A study released by search engine Yandex in March showed that Kazakhstanis were searching for crypto-related terms more this year than in 2017.

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Kazakhstan’s President Calls for International Cooperation in Crypto Regulation

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for global cooperation for cryptocurrency regulation, local news outlet Azernews reported May 17.

Speaking at the plenary session of the Global Challenges Summit 2018, Nazarbayev stated that “most countries are actively exploring the possibility of adapting cryptocurrency to the current configuration of financial systems.” He then continued with a comment on the fragmented nature of crypto regulation globally:

“At the same time, we see completely separate actions of states in this issue. And these disparate actions will lead to inefficiency. It is necessary to start developing common rules.”

Kazakhstan has already proven its interest in the cryptocurrency sector. A study released by search engine Yandex in March shows that Kazakhstanis have been more frequently searching for cryptocurrency-related terms this year, as compared to 2018.

Last fall, Kazakhstan’s government-supported Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) announced they had signed a deal of cooperation with Maltese firm Exante, with the goal of developing the Kazakh digital asset market. Also in the fall,  the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association in Kazakhstan had applied for state licensing to become a legal entity and begin official activities.

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Three More Countries Join Planned Lawsuit Against Internet Giants For Banning Crypto Ads

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain organizations in Switzerland, Kazakhstan, and Armenia have recently joined those of Russia, China, and South Korea in filing a joint lawsuit against major Internet companies for banning crypto-related advertising, local Russian news outlet RNS reported Friday, April 6.

The plans to file the joint lawsuit against tech giants Google, Twitter, and Facebook were first revealed on March 27. The organizations originally filing the complaint include the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (RACIB), the Korea Venture Business Associations, and LCBT, a Chinese association of crypto investors.

According to Yury Pripachkin, the president the RACIB, the new members of the joint lawsuit include such associations as Swiss InnMind fintech firm, the Armenian Blockchain Association, and the Kazakhstan Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association.

The joint lawsuit is set to be filed in May 2018 in New York. Funds for lawyers are to be collected on a digital wallet registered in Estonia, Pripachkin noted.

On Jan. 30, Facebook banned advertiserments related to cryptocurreny and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), citing “misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” In March, Google followed the move by announcing it woukd begin blocking crypto-relared ads of all types in June 2018. At the end of March, Twitter confirmed that it will also ban crypto-related ads, such as ICOs, cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet services, unless they are public companies.

Recently, Johnl McAfee, a software engineer and very prominent figure in the cryptocurrency community, disclosed that he charges $105,000 per tweet to promote cryptocurrency projects and related products, despite earlier denying that his promotional tweets are paid.

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Kazakh National Bank Considers Ban Of Crypto Trading, Mining In The Country

Kazakhstan’s National Bank is considering banning exchanges of cryptocurrency for the national currency, the tenge, as well as crypto mining, local news outlet Sputnik reported March 30.

Daniyar Akishev, the chairman of the National Bank, said that they are “taking a very conservative approach toward the matter, and it welcomes nothing but extremely tough restrictions”, stating:

“Therefore, we want to ban the exchange of digital currencies for the national currency. We want to prohibit the stock exchange’s activities in this area, as well as every type of mining.”

According to Akishev, the problem with cryptocurrencies is their lack of regulation and characteristics as an “ideal instrument for money laundering and tax evasion:”

“We minimize the risks related to the national market. However, no central bank has all the instruments to control this market in the cross-border market. Therefore, at least, we must prevent this risk via the national currency.”

Akishev told Sputnik that the “majority” of Kazakhstan governmental organization endorse this strict attitude.

Last fall, Kazakhstan showed more support for the possibility of cryptocurrencies and crypto technologies, as government-supported Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) announced that they were working on creating their own cryptocurrency, the CryptoTenge. In November, Kazakhstan’s Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association also applied with the government to be allowed to begin conducting official activities.

In early March, a study by search engine Yandex showed that Kazakhstanis were looking up cryptocurrency-related terms in more frequency this year than in 2017.

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Kazakhstan’s Central Bank Plans to Ban Cryptocurrencies Amid Growing Interest: Report

The National Bank of Kazakhstan, the country’s central bank, is currently planning to ban cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, or at the very least take a “very conservative approach” towards them, according to a report published by Russian government news outlet Sputnik News.

Per the report, National Bank of Kazakhstan chairman Daniyar Akishev revealed the financial institution doesn’t favor cryptocurrencies, and is even looking to impose “extremely tough restrictions” on crypto markets.

Akishev added that the central bank wants to “ban the exchange of digital currencies for the national currency,” and prohibit cryptocurrency exchanges and miners from operating inside the country’s borders. His reasoning was that cryptocurrencies lead to problems relating to the protection of their users’ rights.

The financial institution’s chairman noted:

“We minimize the risks related to the national market. However, no central bank has all the instruments to control this market in the cross-border market. Therefore, at least, we must prevent this risk via the national currency.”

He added that one of the risks of cryptocurrencies is their potential to be used in illegal activities. Per the bank – and other state bodies – cryptocurrencies are “an ideal instrument for money laundering and tax evasion.”

At present, there are apparently no regulations, laws or bills that aim to stifle the use of cryptocurrencies in the country. Kazakhstan’s take may be somewhat surprising, given that at the G20 summit the world’s economic leaders seemingly preferred to go with a regulatory approach that wouldn’t harm innovation.

The move comes at a time in which bitcoin drops below the $7,500 mark and approaches a crucial period. Some analysts point out the market is extremely oversold and all its waiting for is a trigger to get a bullish period going, while others claim bitcoin may keep falling.

While Kazakhstan is taking a tough approach to cryptocurrencies, Belarus and the German Tourist board are now bitcoin and ethereum friendly, as both have seemingly legalized crypto related businesses and are positioning themselves on the vanguard of the cryptocurrency revolution.

Earlier this year, a Yandex study revealed Kazakhs’ interest in cryptocurrencies grew 15-fold in 2018. The study conducted by the Russian search engine showed search terms like “bitcoin” surged, and that some of the most popular crypto-related queries included initial coin offerings (ICOs), blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency mining.

Yandex further revealed Kazakh users asked specific questions, as they wanted to know if a “student can work for bitcoin,” or “what is blockchain in simple words for dummies.” Mining-related search queries seemed to show users were looking to start their own operations.

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Report: Kazakhstan's Central Bank Wants to Ban Cryptocurrencies

The National Bank of Kazakhstan wants to ban cryptocurrency trading and mining in the European nation, its chairman said.

Speaking to Sputnik News, Daniyar Akishev said the central bank is “taking [a] very conservative approach” towards cryptocurrencies, looking for “extremely tough restrictions.”

To that end, he told the Russian government news site, he wants to ban all crypto exchanges and prevent residents from converting the nation’s fiat currency into any form of cryptocurrency.

In addition, he said he wants to ban cryptocurrency mining within Kazakhstan’s borders, telling Sputnik:

“We minimize the risks related to the national market. However, no central bank has all the instruments to control this market in the cross-border market. Therefore, at least, we must prevent this risk via the national currency.”

The bank – and other government agencies – believe that cryptocurrencies are “an ideal instrument for money laundering and tax evasion,” he said.

Despite the chairman’s words, it does not appear that there are any regulations, laws or bills aimed at curbing the use of cryptocurrencies in Kazakhstan at present.

Kazakhstan flag image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Yandex Study Shows Rising Interest In Crypto By Kazakhstanis

A study by Yandex, a multinational corporation for Internet services, showed that Kazakhstanis have been searching for a variety cryptocurrency-related terms in frequency and amount several times higher this year as compared to 2017, local news outlet reported March 2.

The study shows that the increase in interest began in June of last year and rose in September, with Kazakhstanis asking Yandex more questions like “what is Bitcoin/Blockchain/ICO/mining?” The study notes that “what is Bitcoin” was asked the most in December 2017, when Bitcoin’s price hit $20,000.

Other search queries popular in Kazakhstan include, “can students work with Bitcoin?” “Bitcoin printing,” “what is Blockchain in simple words for dummies?” and “which mining services really pay?”

Yandex users in Kazakhstan used the word “cryptocurrency” in searches 15 times more than in 2018 than in 2017, and searched for “graphics cards for mining” 10 times more than the year before.

Kazakh users also searched for just “Bitcoin” 7 times more than in the beginning of last year, and are 4 times more likely to search “ICO” this year along with various modifiers.

In November of last year, Kazakhstan’s Astana International Finance Center announced that they were interested in releasing a fiat-based cryptocurrency, the CryptoTenge, after signing a deal with a Maltese financial broker. Also in November, it was reported that Kazakhstan is considering licensing a cryptocurrency and Blockchain lobby group to promote the new technology.

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Russian Nuclear Engineers Foiled In Attempt To Mine BTC With Supercomputer

Several engineers at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center have been arrested for attempting to use one of Russia’s largest supercomputers for Bitcoin (BTC) mining, Interfax reports Friday, Feb. 9.

The Federal Nuclear Center employs around 20,000 people and is located in the Sarov, a secret, previously unmarked city where the first nuclear bomb was produced back in the Soviet Union. Sarov is still closed to visitors from both abroad and Russia without the proper permission, and the border is surrounded by barbed wire fences and military patrols.

Tatiana Zalesskaya, the head of the press service for the research institute, told Interfax that “as far as [she] is aware,” a criminal case has been launched against the engineers:

“There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining […] it is a technically hopeless and criminally punishable activity”

The center’s supercomputer, which has a capacity of 1 petaflop — 1,000 trln calculations per second — was not connected to the internet for security reasons. When the engineers tried to bring it online to utilize its power for mining, the security department was able to stop and apprehend the engineers.

Legislation that is expected to legalize Bitcoin in Russia is in the works, but the specifics of how mining would be regulated, with miners perhaps needing to register with a central authority, is not yet clear. In mid-January, Cointelegraph reported that Russian businessman Aleksey Kolesnik had reportedly bought two power plants for future cryptocurrency mining operations.

The engineers arrested this week were not the first to think of using former Soviet military spaces for mining. The Ice Rock Mining company has plans to set up mining operations in a former Soviet bunker located in a cave in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The company touts the naturally cold temperature of the underground bunker and its location near a hydroelectric plant as elements of an ideal cost-effective site for mining.

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Belarus Signs ‘Super Liberal’ Blockchain Support Legislation

Belarus’ president Aleksandr Lukashenko has formally signed a “super liberal” bill signaling state support of Blockchain and cryptocurrency.

As local news outlet and others report today, Lukashenko set the wheels of Belarus’ so-called “Digital Economy Growth” package rolling Monday.

The legislation aims to remove bureaucracy which could potentially hinder Blockchain’s implementation, and gives the go-ahead to a permissive environment for cryptocurrency exchange.

In addition, Belarus’ ‘HTP’ – a Silicon Valley-style tech haven Lukashenko created – will have privileges extending to attracting funding through ICOs and using cryptocurrency in civil circulation, Cointelegraph previously reported last month.

“Today’s ratification of the digital economy by the president: the decree will be signed by the end of this year, and is a super liberal version with 100 percent absence of bureaucracy for supporting all forms of Blockchain adoption,” one IT industry insider close to the president wrote on Facebook following completion.

The Digital Economy takes Belarus a step beyond its neighbors in the race to incorporate emerging disruptive technologies. Russia, for example, has had a problematic road to adoption of cryptocurrency, with conflicting statements creating an uncertain picture of their future legal status.

Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has increasingly taken steps towards its stated goal of becoming the “Blockchain Singapore.”

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First CryptoTenge, Now State Association: Kazakhstan Wakes Up To Cryptocurrency

Kazakhstan is considering state licensing of a Blockchain and cryptocurrency lobby group to promote usage and acceptance of the emerging technology.

As local news outlet Astana Times reports referencing, the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association has applied for recognition from the country’s government as a legal entity to begin official activities.

Kazakhstan has already taken various steps to investigate the potential behind both Blockchain and Bitcoin, appearing to adopt a more broadly tolerant attitude in contrast to neighboring Russia.

In July, a ‘Blockchain pact’ in conjunction with Russian platform Waves saw participants air the wish to become the “Blockchain Singapore.”

The country is also sponsoring its own state cryptocurrency, the CryptoTenge, a digital asset tied to fiat which would likely function in a similar way to Russia’s CryptoRuble.

At the same time, however, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin look set to enjoy a more supportive future.

“Our main goal is to prescribe the rules of the game in the Blockchain market and cryptocurrency in Kazakhstan together with the regulator [the National Bank],” Astana Times quotes Association Chair Yessin Butin as saying.

“There are no companies operating in the Blockchain market in Kazakhstan, but there are more companies that see the promise of technology for themselves.”

Competition is hotting up among CIS nations to find the magic recipe for crypto, with contrasting approaches emerging on an increasingly frequent basis.

This week also saw Belarus announce it would potentially legalize Bitcoin exchanges and make the government-approved outlets more widely available.

Butin added:

“People are looking for an alternative and find it in the form of cryptocurrency.”