Well, we’re only a few days into the new year and governments and banks the world over have already begun firing salvos at the cryptocurrency community.
It’s not the most promising way to start 2018, insofar as regulatory hiccups in the months ahead could catalyze bearish trends in global cryptocurrency markets, even if acutely.
So what’s been happening? And why now?
It seems as if these traditional institutions have finally realized its flight or fight when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. And it seems as if many are now choosing the latter. We’ll bring you up to speed.
Shots heard ’round the space
Investment powerhouse Merrill Lynch didn’t waste any time moving against crypto in 2018, as the firm just banned its 17,000 financial advisers from purchasing “bitcoin-related investments” for their clients going forward.
An internal memo leaked from within Merril Lynch noted that the “decision to close … new purchases is driven by concerns pertaining to suitability and eligibility standards of this product.”
Ouch. Sounds a bit salty, no? But that’s been par for the course for the year so far, as stories have been arising out of Australia that Australian banks have started blocking off Bitcoiners.
To this end, one trader told ABC:
“I’ve been blacklisted from Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne, Bank SA, Bank of Queensland, Rams and BT Superfund. I can’t open or hold any accounts with those institutions because I deal with Bitcoin.”
Worst of all, though? VISA just locked down countless users’ pre-paid cryptocurrency cards in a dispute with a card issuer. Or so they say, at least.
Governments getting involved, too
State and federal governments are seemingly no longer content to sit back and watch the cryptocurrency space surge forward without their yays or nays.
For one, the Texas Securities Board just slapped BitConnect with an emergency cease and desist letter as far as the platform’s services applied to Texas citizens. Though this enforcement mechanism is limited in scope and arguably a good thing, seeing as how many view BitConnect as a ponzi scheme.
Other nations are making bold pivots in the other direction, with European nations like Belarus legalizing cryptocurrency use and making these digital assets tax free for five years. So, too, is Estonia moving a considerable amount of resources into the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Are conservative institutions starting to freak?
The status quo is attractive to many institutions who have a lot of money on the line. They’re surely taking the crypto space more seriously than ever before with how attention surged during the titanic bull runs in 2017.
The market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is on the verge of hitting $1 trillion USD. The powers-that-be have noticed, and they’re scrambling to respond.
But how can they truly respond to decentralized networks, except indirectly?
In the weeks and months ahead, more nations will move toward the liberalization model of Japan, while others move toward ever-stringent restrictions.
And powerhouse nations like Germany and the United States can tip the global debates either way, depending on how they themselves react to cryptocurrencies in the coming days.
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