Cryptocurrencies win support from China and Russia

Published:  15 Mar at 6 PM
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Expats pinning their financial hopes on digital currencies can take some encouragement from China and Russia’s begrudging acceptance of the online money.

Expatriates eager to invest in cryptocurrencies in spite of their unregulated volatility may have been offered some slight reassurance by Russia and China’s take on the wildly fluctuating crypto-coins. China, the planet’s second largest economy, was the first to comment via its central bank, saying an eventual move to a true digital economy is inevitable although policy makers aren’t rushing to regulate its use. Russia, the 12th largest world economy, is now examining the possible regulation of the currencies and initial coin offerings.

Both announcements followed the White House’s acknowledgement that digital currencies are now a rising economic trend, adding America will need to recognise and regulate their use sooner rather than later. China is taking the cautious approach, saying it’s likely that cryptocurrencies will eventually replace conventional currencies, with regulation dependent on tech innovations and trials. The country’s central bank also recommends government caution as regards the influence of investor sentiment and financial systems on the currencies.

Russia is ahead of China in that a federal law governing the use of digital currencies is already being debated in parliament, with lawmakers attempting to minimise tax implications for investors. Concern is being expressed as to the risks of cryptocurrency trading by inexperienced investors and the resultant loss of funds. In fact, the Russian central bank isn’t in favour of legalising the type of cryptocurrency already available in the market, with legislation already in place in Japan,

Belarus, Armenia and Switzerland. Britain and several EU member states are examining the drafting of regulations, and cash-strapped Venezuela has introduced the ‘petro’, aimed at restoring its devastated economy and already responsible for a capital inflow of some £750 million. One cause for concern is that inexperienced expat investors living or working overseas might see cryptocurrency as a way to supplement income or pensions without the risk of falling foul of fraudulent IFAs lurking in local expat communities.

In a sense, they might be right, as it’s possible to buy an infinite fraction of a single bitcoin – known as a ‘satoshi’, thus limiting their losses should they have misread the market. The downside is the currency’s unpredictable volatility, demonstrated by last December’s dramatic increase in the value of one bitcoin and its equally dramatic fall over the next several days.
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