Kazakhstan Central Bank Could Ban Bitcoin to Protect Bankers

5 February 2014

Kazakhstan’s Central Bank Governor, Kairat Kelimbetov, has indicated in public comments that the National Bank of Kazakhstan could move to classify bitcoin as a ponzi scheme this year.

The remarks were issued on 4th February at a press conference, according to Tengrinews.kz, an English-language news site based in Kazakhstan.

There, Kelimbetov suggested that the Finance Ministry of Kazakhstan is studying bitcoin, but has yet to determine a formal stance on the virtual currency.

“The issue is rather complicated. Some claim the currency is a good tool of money laundering and an absolute evil. That’s why some monetary authorities, like those in China, have banned bitcoin,” Kelimbetov said.

Kelimbetov cautioned that a decision on the legal status of bitcoin has not yet been made, but that one was likely to be issued this year.

Protecting the country’s banking system

Perhaps more interesting are previous comments made by Kazakhstan’s vice minister of finance Ruslan Dalenov this December, who noted that any actions against bitcoin could be a move to protect domestic banks. Dalenov has revealed in previous statements that money laundering is not a concern with bitcoin.

“There is a cheaper and clearer means – cash. This is where we should start our fight,” Dalenov said.

Dalenov has also stated that should bitcoin adoption increase, there would not be any work for bankers, suggesting that the move has more to do with job protection in the country than bitcoin’s violation of any existing laws.

A regional consensus grows

The announcement notably comes on the heels of similar comments made by the Estonian Central Bank on 31 January, which issued a warning to its citizens that bitcoin may be a ponzi scheme that could put citizens and their wealth at risk.

Like Estonia, Kazakhstan shares a border with Russia. As a result, it may not be surprising that both comments came just days after Russia suggested that its bitcoin users could be breaking the law.

However, as highlighted by yesterday’s statements from Kazakhstan, the region is still working out the issues. Some high-level bankers in Russia, for instance, have issued pleas to allow bitcoin innovation to continue.

For more information on the legal status of bitcoin activities in Kazkhstan, click here.

Image credit: Alexandr Vlassyuk / Shutterstock.com