A recent study by analyst firm Coingecko found that cryptocurrencies are legal in 119 countries and four overseas territories.
Bitcoin is Legal in 60% of the World. A recent study by analyst firm Coingecko determined that Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies are legal in about 61% of countries around the globe, with significant progress in changing their legal status since 2021. According to the report published by the company, as of December 11, 2023, bitcoin is legal in 119 countries and four British overseas territories. The number represents an increase of more than 40% in two years, considering that by 2021, the number of countries where the digital currency was legal barely approached 80.
Growing Global Adoption Driving Legalization
These numbers mean that more than half of the countries in the world have legalized cryptocurrencies in the last two years. A fact that makes evident the positioning gained by Bitcoin at this time, with an essential role in the global economic and geopolitical game. Once the stage in which cryptocurrencies were seen as a marginal technology (between 2013 and 2018), the tendency for governments to follow up on this ecosystem has increased under the growing global adoption.
62 of the 119 countries where cryptocurrencies are legally accepted have developed specific regulations for the sector. “The figure has increased by 53.2% since 2018, when only 33 jurisdictions had laws on cryptocurrencies,” the report notes.
El Salvador stands out among the countries that give legal status to Bitcoin by being the only one in the world where BTC is the official currency. The European Union also stands out, with its 27 jurisdictions legalizing cryptoassets after the approval of the MiCA Law in April this year. Overall, 64.7% of the nations that have legalized cryptocurrencies are emerging and developing countries on the Asian and African continents, according to Coingecko.
Varying Regulatory Approaches
Several of these countries have applied existing regulatory frameworks in their legal systems to cryptocurrencies rather than establishing new regulations. An approach aimed primarily at regulating transactions through tax and anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) laws. The firm adds that 16% of countries legally accepting Bitcoin have imposed banking restrictions, limiting the ability of financial institutions to interact with users or exchanges. These include two Latin American countries (Ecuador and Argentina) and Canada in North America.
But bans have advanced even with the increase in the number of countries that have given legal recognition to Bitcoin. So far, there are 22 countries whose governments restrict the use of cryptocurrencies. China is among them, following the latest restrictions imposed in 2021. China is among the 13 jurisdictions that that same year decided to establish a total ban, adding to the nine that had already done so in previous years. They also mention Bolivia as the only country in the Americas where they prohibit cryptocurrency use.
At this point, the study highlights that, despite the restrictions, the use of Bitcoin is still present in these 22 countries. The situation is due to the disruptive and disruptive nature of a network such as Bitcoin, which can operate internationally without state control. Some estimations say that 4.08% of China’s total population (or 58 million people) own cryptocurrencies. With this, China has the second largest cryptocurrency ownership base worldwide, despite its total ban on cryptocurrency activities since 2017.
Coingecko Report’s Conclusion
The above makes it clear how, despite the limitations that governments try to impose, the decentralized nature of digital currency makes it impossible to prevent its use. Users can always use alternative technological tools on the Internet to continue trading cryptocurrencies.
Is Ethereum legal?
The legality of Ethereum, like other cryptocurrencies, varies from country to country. In many jurisdictions, the use of Ethereum is not illegal, but its status and usability as a means of payment or a commodity vary, with differing regulatory implications. In the European Union, there is no specific legislation relative to the status of Ethereum as a currency. However, VAT/GST does not apply to converting traditional (fiat) currency and Ethereum1. The European Central Bank classifies Ethereum as a convertible decentralized virtual currency. 111 states recognize Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies under the law and have a specific legal status. For instance, Canada and the US hold a crypto-friendly perspective towards crypto while also trying to enforce AML (anti-money laundering) procedures.
However, several countries have prohibited the trade or use of Ethereum due to its decentralized nature. They perceive crypto as a threat to current monetary systems, volatility, or alleged use to facilitate illegal activities. As of 2019, countries where Ethereum or its payments are banned alongside other cryptocurrencies include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, Bolivia, Bangladesh, the Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. It is important to note that despite the bans and restrictions, strict laws have not eradicated Ethereum, Ether, or other cryptocurrencies, their trades, or their usage because it is nearly impossible to ban them.