Moroccan authorities are exploring the possibility of establishing a legal framework to regulate the use of crypto-currencies.
Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui (Finance) reported this on Monday in the House of Representatives. The Ministry of Finance and Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM) are working with international partners.
The issue of the growing use of crypto-currencies in Morocco was raised in parliament on Monday. During the oral question session, the opposition USFP asked Fettah Alaoui about the current ban on the use of virtual currencies in Morocco.
The MP pointed out that crypto-currencies have become an undeniable reality in Morocco, and that several governments around the world, in Europe, Asia and America, have authorized digital coins. “Is it normal that Morocco remains on the sidelines of these technological innovations?” the opposition said.
According to Fettah Alaoui, his ministry and BAM are studying a legal framework, “based on experiences abroad,” without giving further details. However, the minister defended the caution of the Moroccan monetary authorities by pointing out the dangers surrounding the use of virtual currencies.
She recalled the press release issued in November 2017 by the Ministry of Finance, BAM and the Moroccan Capital Markets Authority (MCMA), warning the public about the risks associated with the use of crypto-currencies; lack of consumer protection, exchange rate volatility and the use of the currency for illegal or criminal purposes.
BAM announced in early 2021 that it would reconsider the ban and set up an exploratory committee to investigate a digital currency run by the central bank.
In the House, however, the minister specifically highlighted the risk of terrorist financing and money laundering. Both topics are currently at the top of the political agenda as the country has committed to complying with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
Morocco is currently on the watch list of the intergovernmental organization that sets standards for anti-money laundering legislation and will continue to be subject to increased scrutiny as a result.
The FATF gives countries a choice between legalizing or banning crypto-currencies as part of a method to limit money laundering and terrorist financing.
The use of digital coins has been banned in the North African country since November 2017. Despite the ban, more and more Moroccans are using virtual currencies, including Bitcoin.
According to LocalBitcoins, more than $900,000 worth of bitcoins were traded in Morocco in 2021. This puts the country in fourth place on the African continent, after Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. Morocco is in 24th place worldwide.