The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) is determined to curb the growing local cryptocurrency industry. This comes after the central bank issued a warning against engaging in cryptocurrency activities.

According to the Myanmar Times report published on May 20, the CBM said that it does recognize cryptos as legal currencies and warned financial institutions against facilitating transactions involving digital assets.

Myanmar’s experts in the financial sector claim that investments in the local cryptocurrency sector are on the rise even though no concrete is available to back this claim. This is different from other countries where crypto exchanges publish their daily volume transaction data.

Myanmar Crypto Future Hangs in the Balance

Per the report, local residents with access to online payments are buying the new digital asset class while local exchanges are ramping up their marketing efforts on social media. The central bank’s recent announcement has left the future of the crypto industry hanging in the balance.

It is also possible that the cryptocurrency industry will continue to grow in the shadows because the CBM has not yet put in place tangible rules to govern the industry. One fintech expert believes that it is not yet illegal to deal with cryptocurrencies in the country.

“As there is no official law, it can’t be said that trading in digital currencies is illegal,” said Get Myanmar CEO and fintech expert U Nyein Chan Soe Win. He reckons that the central bank should first study the impact of the industry on the local economy and their compatibility with the current policies before declaring them illegal.

Some of the world’s major economies such as the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, and more allow cryptocurrency transactions. They have managed to put in place laws that combat money laundering and protect users from fraud.

Fintech experts reckon that educating the nation about cryptocurrency’s technology, security, functionality, and convenience has the potential to grow the industry in the Southeast Asian country. A local university – Manchester Metropolitan University – is launching a fintech course that will attract the best minds in the finance and technology sectors.

U Aung Aung, an IT manager working for Yangon-based international company, says that there are a few resources where one can find reliable information about Bitcoin in local languages. He spent $20 to buy his first Bitcoins in 2017 through Skybit, which markets itself “as the only platform in existence that bridges Myanmar with global e-commerce.”

Which Direction Will Myanmar Take?

Central banks and financial regulators around the world are coming to grips with the new technology and how it impacts the economy. It is too early to say which direction the country will follow. It may have to draw its inspiration from other crypto-progressive nations such as Japan or Singapore or follow restrictive nations that include China and India, among others.

India recently excluded cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, and exchange from a fintech regulatory sandbox that included blockchain technology.

Such an anti-cryptocurrency position might come back to bite the emerging nation which is aiming to raise more than $5 billion in foreign direct investments.

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