Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (المملكة العربية السعودية) regulators issued a statement this week through its monetary authority. Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are illegal in the country. Citing “negative consequences” and “high risk,” the government believes it must protect subjects from themselves.
Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Pronounces Bitcoin Illegal
Dated 8 August 2018, مؤسسة النقد العربي السعودي, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) began, “The standing committee warns against trading in the digital currencies or what is known as virtual currency for their negative consequences and high risks on traders as they are out of government supervision.”
SAMA functions as the kingdom’s central bank. It issues the Riyal, oversees banks and foreign exchanges, and the traditional aspects of price and exchange rate stability, crediting itself with ensuring the growth and soundness of the domestic financial system.
“The committee assured that virtual currency including,” SAMA continued, “for example, but not limited to, the Bitcoins are illegal in the kingdom and no parties or individuals are licensed for such practices. The committee warns all citizens and residents about drifting after such illusion and get-rich scheme due to the high regulatory, security and market risks involved, not to mention signing of fictitious contracts and the transfer of funds to unknown recipients/entities/parties.”
Saudi Royals Do Crypto, Sometimes
Popularly, the Kingdom is said to be in something of a modernizing period. Its ascended Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister under King Salman, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who will turn a tender 33 years old in a manner of days, is known as a reformer of sorts. As one of the youngest monarchical office holders in the world, he is particularly lauded for making strides in his country for women.
Women, under his dictates, are slowly being reintroduced into society as drivers, singers, and sporting enthusiasts. His view on cryptocurrency isn’t well known. Fall of last year, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal called bitcoin a “fraud” on American television (he would later run into his own legal problems involving fraud), but that is the closest Royal Family pronouncements have come with regard to crypto, until now.
Perhaps another hint comes from a more conciliatory side of SAMA, and its reported usage of Ripple settlement tech or its effort at building a state-backed regional cryptocurrency in conjunction with United Arab Emirates. Whatever the ultimate case, cryptos without state backing, such as bitcoin, are illegal for now.