In recent years, there has been significant interest in Belarus. The much smaller neighbor of Russia has been experiencing an astonishing expansion in the field of FX/CFD, surpassing even its larger neighbor, Ukraine. However, the political unrest that has continued since last year’s presidential election has thrown a shadow on the local industry and its future. What has really happened to the forex business in Belarus and should anyone be worried? Finance Magnates takes a closer look at the subject.
Belarus shares a similar story to Ukraine. This country, which has been ruled by one man since 1994, has often been seen as a post-soviet relic where doing business is very difficult. At that time, the whole post-Soviet area in the East of Russia was the only place to do business with. However, the crackdown on the Russian retail FX industry, especially in 2018, created a large window of opportunity for Belarus. Suddenly, it became an attractive alternative for Russian FX brokers from where they could approach the whole Russian-speaking world.
The official election results held on 9th August 2020 revealed that Aleksander Lukashenko won his sixth term as President, raking in about 80 per cent of the vote. His first election was won in 1994, and he has been the longest-ruling president in Europe. As a result, a large majority of the Belarusian population participated in protests against the President’s administration, with accusations of widespread rigging of the polls.
Forex Business in Belarus?
A popular but misleading picture of Belarus in the West assumes that this is a very underdeveloped eastern European country where there is almost no private ownership and everything is dictated by the ruling President. While the state control indeed is large, the country itself enjoys the same changes and developments we see in western economies, just maybe on a smaller scale.
To get a better idea of how it looks from the inside, Finance Magnates asked for the opinion of the Libertex Group, which has an office in Belarus. Anton Cherkasov, Head of Global Sales at Libertex Group, told us: “We have been present in the Belarusian market for over ten years and have never had any problems with the state. Moreover, of all the CIS countries, Belarus is probably the leader in terms of a constructive and intelligent approach to the regulation of our sphere. In recent years, we have felt tremendous support from authorized government bodies in our business development. We have direct transparent communications with them and can note a zero level of corruption in our relationships.”
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Where Will Belarus Be in The Near Future?
The number of forex operators in Belarus is really impressive. The annual data related to the forex industry clearly shows its growth and suggests a lot of trust that existing companies have in this market. For this reason, Finance Magnates asked local FX brokers for their opinion on the future of the industry in Belarus.
Cherkasov shared the following observation with us, “Of course, from the perspective of clients’ potential for investment, it isn’t easy to compare Belarus with European countries. Even in the 3-5 year perspective, it is difficult to imagine a situation when the potential of the Belarusian market will exceed 1% of the European market.”
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Greetings President Muhammadu Buhari,
The hope of Nigeria lies within this generation. I am proudly a Nigerian descendant living in America and am a proponent of Bitcoin. I write to urge the Nigerian government to pursue economic independence and financial sovereignty by pursuing a national Bitcoin standard. Soon every nation will be faced with this decision, but those who seize the present moment proactively as we have just witnessed in El Salvador, will enjoy significant advantages globally for generations to come.
It is no secret that the current global economic environment is worrisome and unsustainable. Sadly, the fate of the Nigerian economy is in the hands of global central bankers who do not represent the best interests of the Nigerian people. Despite the challenges we face, the resilience of Nigerians continues to inspire. The Nigerian society enjoys more favorable conditions than many of its neighbors. However, even greater opportunity awaits with the adoption of national action in favor of a Bitcoin standard.
The tone of this letter is meant to convey urgency both in terms of the forthcoming economic despair and the limited window to act on this opportunity with fierce boldness and strong leadership. While the challenges of COVID-19 and increased global unrest continue to instill fear in the hearts and minds of citizens everywhere, Nigerians can claim international greatness by rising to the occasion that our unique times require.
Nations such as Iran, Russia, China and Kenya have been reportedly mining or otherwise utilizing bitcoin, often as a means to circumvent U.S. sanctions which prevent them from full participation in the global financial system. Other nations like Barbados, Singapore and Malta have moved to become “bitcoin friendly” in an effort to attract wealth and human capital through migration. And this week, El Salvador became the world’s first nation to require merchants to accept bitcoin as legal tender. I’m proposing an equally aggressive approach to national Bitcoin adoption which would significantly bolster every sector of the Nigerian economy and revitalize the spirit of every Nigerian domestically and abroad.
Bitcoin is not controlled, managed or operated by any single entity. It is an innovation that will surpass the automobile or the internet in terms of its impact on humanity. Nigeria does not need to ask for permission from any other nation nor acquire a license nor secure a trade agreement from any corporation to reshape its economy with Bitcoin. All that is required is a vision for a new future and an allocation of its own national resources to pursue a Bitcoin standard.
The primary reason for urgently pursuing and executing a national plan for adoption is the finite supply of bitcoin. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in circulation. This hard cap on the supply makes bitcoin even more verifiably finite than gold. As this simple yet unique property of scarcity becomes more widely understood, the economic laws of supply and demand will create a global frenzy to acquire as much bitcoin as possible, before it’s too late. This momentum for acquiring bitcoin is already underway throughout the world and it is rapidly accelerating. In recent months, continued economic turmoil and uncertainty has created increased curiosity in
bitcoin. Multiple institutional investors have announced sizable bitcoin allocations in their portfolios, some citing it as a hedge against a weakening U.S. dollar.
The Nigerian government, along with every other government in the world, has a once in a generation opportunity to claim global prominence by rising to the occasion. Many other politicians in Latin America have signalled their intention to pursue similar moves as El Salvador. In leading the next global financial shift, Nigeria can create prosperity for its citizens in a manner that requires no bloodshed, no election and no resistance. Such a proposition may seem too good to be true, and these ambitions certainly require thorough investigation, scrutiny and debate. Conversely, a delay in pursuing a national plan for bitcoin adoption will risk a scenario where Nigeria is left behind and its citizens excluded from the possibility of significant wealth creation and preservation. As world leaders become more aware of the chance to make history, pursuit of bitcoin will be widespread. We offer our full support, a willingness to voluntarily consult and commitment to activate every resource available to us in order to see Nigeria pursue a Bitcoin standard.
Nigeria must never carry last,
The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Office of Customer Education and Outreach (OCEO) issued a warning on Thursday targeting investors who are looking for funds with exposure to Bitcoin futures. According to the investor bulletin, people should exercise caution and be careful about the investment’s potential risks and benefits.
“Among other things, investors should understand that Bitcoin, including gaining exposure through the Bitcoin futures market, is a highly speculative investment,” the regulatory bureaus commented. Furthermore, they raised concerns once again on the volatility that Bitcoin brings to the crypto sphere and that it’s being witnessed on the Bitcoin futures markets.
In fact, they cited the lack of regulation and “potential for fraud or manipulation” of the market. The bulletin provides guidance on which elements the investors should pay attention to, such as the risk tolerance, the fund’s disclosure of its risks, potential loss of the investment, and the difference in investment outcome.
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“A rise in Bitcoin prices may not result in a similar increase in the value of a fund holding positions in Bitcoin futures contracts. This is in part because funds that trade commodity futures contracts may not have direct exposure to the contracts’ underlying assets. Futures contract prices can vary by delivery months and differ from the underlying commodity’s spot price,” the regulators said.
Investment Company Act of 1940
Also, in the bulletin, the bureaus who signed the warning highlighted that funds regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940 are required to provide critical investor protections, such as: “funds must comply with legal requirements related to valuation and custody of fund assets, and mutual funds and ETFs must comply with liquidity requirements.”
Recently, the US SEC opened the doors to establishing cooperation with the lawmakers from Congress and other regulatory bodies to work on ways to protect crypto investors.
A proposed law in Russia seeks to allow citizens to inherit Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to include them in divorce settlements and wills. According to RBC, Russian lawmakers want such a legal framework to allow creditors to access virtual currencies in case of successful bankruptcy claims, despite crypto’s legal status still being unclear in the country.
Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of the State Duma’s Committee on State Construction and Legislation, stated that there is a growing mood to change the current inheritance law before the end of the current parliamentary session. If they don’t manage to pursue such a proposal in this period, Krasheninnikov hinted at the possibility of moving it until the next one in September.
“We will remove this paradox when there is a cryptocurrency and is not regulated by anything. Will we have time to do it before the end of the spring session or not? I would really like to have time,” the head of the State Duma’s Committee on State Construction and Legislation commented on the matter.
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Treating Bitcoin as Property
In fact, the lawmakers seek to grant cryptocurrencies in Russia the status of “property,” whose amendments should be done on the Civil Code. “It will not be necessary to deduce the legal regime of cryptocurrency every time from the general principles of civil law,” Efim Kazantsev, Moscow Digital School’s expert, said, who also added that such treatment of property had been given already by Russian courts.
That said, further amendments should point towards clarifying any doubts about the legal status of cryptocurrencies, the expert stated. If the proposed law is bumped until September’s session and gets the green light for approval, the ruling will be promulgated starting January 1, 2022.
Regarding crypto-related regulatory affairs in Russia, the Russian parliament initially passed a new bill that will start taxing profits from cryptocurrencies. However, it is unclear if the taxation will apply to mining operations and income from crypto-based fundraising campaigns.
China has gone a notch higher in its battle against crypto. A few weeks after cracking down on bitcoin mining and bitcoin transactions, the country has now taken down crypto-related accounts on the Weibo platform. The shutdown happened over the weekend, leading to an immediate price drop on Saturday.
Weibo is a social media platform that is similar to Twitter. During the weekend, users could not access crypto-related accounts with large followings. Each blocked account had a message stating that it “violates laws and rules.”
The move is seen as a way for the Chinese government to protect the Chinese crypto market from manipulation by crypto enthusiasts and influencers with large followings. The authorities are possibly seeking to forestall the rise of an Elon Musk-like figure in the space that could add to volatility and worries about price manipulation.
China crackdown negative for crypto… and so are weekends
Before the weekend started, bitcoin had received some great news, such as the President of El Salvador stating that he would introduce a bill to make bitcoin the legal tender in the country. However, the uptrend was disrupted after China suspended the Weibo accounts.
Soon after the news, bitcoin retreated to $35,000 after trying to push to around $40k. Over the weekend, a more than 5% decline in crypto prices was reported, with many crypto enthusiasts now believing that weekends have become a ‘dark period’ for crypto. Bitcoin is having a hard time reaching $40,000, and with the increasing regulatory risk, the coin is expected to fall back to around $30,000.
The news did not just affect bitcoin. Looking at data from CoinMarketCap over the weekend, most of the cryptocurrencies were no longer in the ‘green zone’ except for USDC. However, the market seems to be stabilizing. Many still believe that the crypto space has been volatile, and the current price fluctuation is not something to cause worry.
However, the Weibo news is not the only thing that affected the crypto price over the weekend. Elon Musk, who is now being seen as a crypto critic, published a cryptic tweet of bitcoin with a broken heart. The tweet caused another stir in the market and negatively affected crypto prices.
China crypto crackdown steps up a gear
China’s crackdown on the crypto market started back in 2017 but has picked up pace of late. Last month the country banned financial companies from engaging in transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The announcement widened a previous ban that China had imposed on crypto exchanges. In May, China’s state council also cracked down on bitcoin mining activities, which led to several mining firms’ closure because of heightened regulatory risks.
The Chinese media has also stepped up in warning viewers against crypto trading. In recent weeks, the official Xinhua news agency has increased publications related to crypto-related scams and how people can avoid them. Another news agency also published a report stating that cryptocurrencies are highly unregulated. It also mentioned that they are mostly used in criminal activities such as arms trading, money laundering, and drug dealing.
It is not the end of crypto regulations in China, and more rules are expected to be published in the coming weeks. The tightening up on crypto is thought to be heavily influenced by the great strides China is making as it readies to launch the digital yuan, an official digital currency regulated by the central bank.
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