Some rules are set to change in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: iStock
Some rules are set to change in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: iStock

Following in the footsteps of neighboring China, Japan and South Korea, Taiwan is planning to introduce a new regulatory framework for crypto-currency later this year.

Justice Minister Qiu Taisan has called for them to be in place by November, citing money laundering prevention as the reason.

The intention is to have the regulations in place before the Asia Pacific Group on anti-money laundering visits the country to evaluate the existing Anti Money Laundering (AML) rules. According to the Taiwan Central News Agency, the aim is for the country’s Central Bank, Ministry of Interior and its Bureau of Investigation to determine how to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The announcement was made at a financial industry money laundering conference held this week by the Taiwan Financial Services Coalition (FSC). Earlier this month governmental legal departments invited two crypto-currency exchanges to elaborate more about operations within the industry.

Gu Lixiong, Chairman of the Financial Supervision and Management Commission, stated that the control of Bitcoin and digital currencies would be primarily focused on the prevention of money laundering. As a part of Taiwan’s AML framework, banks have been asked to label Bitcoin accounts as “high-risk clients” by the FSC.

Financial institutions were also asked to warn customers about the risks of investing in crypto-currencies and last month the governor of Taiwan’s central bank, Yang Chin-long, expressed “uncertainty” over the function digital money plays as a payment instrument.

Many traders and companies have left China because of Beijing’s heavy-handed approach to virtual currencies and some of these would certainly have migrated to Taiwan. It is possible then that Taiwan could be awash with Chinese crypto funds, as investors seek ways to evade crackdowns on the mainland. The peer-to-peer trading, via online chat groups, is now also being quashed by the People’s Republic.

However, the crypto landscape in Asia is slowly settling. Nations are either embracing crypto-currencies or taking a hard line approach and trying to quash them. Taiwan is still relatively neutral whereas Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore remain hubs of blockchain and crypto investment. On the flip side of the digital coin, with trading, exchange and ICO crackdowns and heavy taxation, are China, India and Thailand.

Late last year Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission chairman, Wellington Koo, told parliament that the country would not be following in China’s footsteps with an outright ban on digital currencies and, according to Forbes, Taiwan has initially been edging towards a more liberal stance towards crypto-currencies.

How Taiwan’s new regulatory framework for cryptos will change this remains to be seen.

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