The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) has confirmed a ban on cryptocurrency trading within the region. 

The news, which was confirmed in a tweet by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), emphasised that virtual asset services were prohibited from the QFC, and underlined that any violations would carry penalties. 

Following the decision, the governor of the Qatari central bank Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani was quoted in the local news outlet Al-Watan.

He said: “The State of Qatar affirms that fighting money laundering and terrorist financing requires a strict and effective regulatory and legislative framework, whereby the powers and responsibilities of both government agencies and relevant ministries are defined in relation to combating money laundering and terrorist financing.”

The report also highlights that the ban comes as the region embarks on the implementation of its new Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing norms. 

The QFC is regarded as one of the world’s leading and fastest growing onshore business and financial centres, formed with the overall incentive to promote Qatar as an attractive business destination, from which firms can branch out into untapped markets in the MENASA region.

The decision marks continued turbulence in the way that cryptocurrency trading is regulated on a global level. Whilst the stringent stance of Qatar is virtually replicated by China and India, other countries like Japan are offering a more liberal approach to digital currency. 

Nonetheless, Qatar’s latest measures may be perceived as somewhat surprising to many global onlookers as the country had taken steps to embracing a digital financial infrastructure, most recently with HSBC Bank Qatar uniting with SWIFT’s global payments innovation service to enable greater digital tracking, speed and certainty of cross-border payments to and from the region.