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Can I trade Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Pakistan?
Introduction to Bitcoin and crypto trading in Pakistan
Pakistan has largely left the rise of crypto adoption to its own devices with little or no regulation regarding the buying, selling, or trading of crypto. The boom in trading and mining cryptocurrency – at least up until the steep price drop late last year – was supplemented by a groundswell of social media searches and publicity. However, the world Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requires Pakistan to better regulate the crypto industry to curtail terrorist financing and money laundering. Source: https://aurora.dawn.com/news/1144526. The government’s response has been to set up a committee. That said, Pakistan’s crypto boom shows no signs of stopping. Online crypto exchanges, many based outside Pakistan, are operating busily and crypto-related apps like Binance and Binomo are increasingly popular. More regulation, clearer guidance, and an integrated policy around AML and fraud prevention will be the only way forward – or upwards in the case of its ranking position.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading in Pakistan
The crypto economy in Pakistan has little or no regulation but an enthusiastic population for trading, transferring, and mining cryptocurrency. The government has set up a committee to study cryptocurrency regulation, which includes observers and relevant bodies from the worlds of finance and security, committed to getting to grips with regulation.
Bitcoin trading and crypto law in Pakistan
While regulation is light and despite a largely unheeded ban on trading cryptocurrency by the State Bank of Pakistan, the crypto economy is booming in Pakistan. Trading has recently been more openly advocated by the authorities, with new regulatory moves being discussed and said to be imminent. Pakistan is served by many overseas exchanges and has a population with high volumes of trading and holding crypto: mostly by using offshore wallets such as Neteller, Skrill, and Payoneer. Further, operators facilitate the transfer of funds in offshore crypto exchanges in return for the payment made domestically. The mix of the population eager to join the crypto rush ranges from the men and women in the street to professional investors, resulting in an explosion of trading and mining activity. Generally, interest is high too, with online information gathering around trading, exchanges, and mining. Only recently have moves been made to better regulate and control this burgeoning interest, primarily to get to grips with the obvious threats of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Paying taxes on my crypto trading in Pakistan
The ban on crypto trading in Pakistan only served to make it more popular and drive much of the industry into the hands of less secure and unreliable exchanges and wallets. In a country where regulation was non-existent, the issue of tax on gains is a very grey area. For people who don’t have bank accounts, estimated to be around 2 million, cryptocurrency provides low-cost transacting. For the most part, efforts by the authorities have been centered on money laundering rather than taxation.
The unregulated and haphazard growth of the crypto economy in Pakistan offers no clear direction on the taxation of cryptocurrency gains. Many exchanges and wallets are offshore and unregulated. Watch this space.
Bitcoin mining in Pakistan
Thinking of mining crypto? It’s a highly technical and expensive activity at the best of times, involving powerful computers – and lots of energy – but it’s been taken up avidly by many Pakistanis who see a ‘rags to riches’ story for themselves. The provincial government in Pakistan has also been interested in the development of officially backed mining (using hydroelectric energy of which Pakistan has a surplus and would only be wasted anyway) as a means to generate funds and provide employment. Online mining courses and the sellers of mining technology proliferate, but paying tax on gains isn’t very clear at present.
Crypto is a big investment play among an increasing amount of the population. All leading investment banks are facilitating investments in crypto services to their clients and one of the largest fund managers has begun investing in it. That said, cryptocurrencies are still viewed as volatile and unpredictable for many organizations offering long-term financial planning so it is likely that any investment plan would carry higher fees due to the higher risks involved.
Pakistan’s financial outlook on Bitcoin and the crypto economy
Pakistan joins the long list of countries whose central bank has been investigating the possibilities and potential applications of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) within a regulatory framework. Institutions have traditionally held a conservative view of the crypto economy, especially in view of the unregulated growth of money laundering and electronic fraud. Despite concerns, the crypto economy continues to grow fuelled by positive public opinion and most overseas exchanges operate there with crypto apps that track and trade crypto gaining more downloads than most leading banks.
Pakistan and Defi: the latest developments
Blockchain is the technology that many governments are keen to promote, for fear of missing out on the advances being made. To this end, Pakistan is keen to review the new technology with a leading university, Lahore, being given a significant grant to study blockchain networks, Bitcoin apps, and smart contracts. In a country only just getting to grips with regulating cryptocurrency, and investigating a central bank digital currency, it is not surprising that any development of the possibilities of decentralized finance (Defi) is a long, long way off.
Crypto regulation in Pakistan
Having a ban on something is the surest way to make it successful – a bit like the prohibition in America – and so it is with crypto in Pakistan. The so-called ban on crypto trading, along with failing to regulate the cryptoeconomy has led to the growth of interest, but also the cases of fraud, and a corresponding lack of clarity over transparency and security. The Know Your Customer and Anti Money laundering requirements that many countries now employ have yet to come about in Pakistan. By setting up a regulatory framework, Pakistan could attract more reliable blockchain companies and exchanges. There may be some significant movement on regulation to ensure a stable and supportive regulatory framework, but it has not happened as yet.
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