February 2018 – The Qatar Central Bank issued a circular with the subject heading of ‘Trading in Bitcoin‘ to all banks operating in Qatar. However, there was no mention of Bitcoin or any other crypto in the circular itself, instead, it only contained the misspelt word ‘bitcion’. The assumption that Bitcoin was not allowed in Qatar was widely publicized along with information that penalties would be levied if the circular was violated by the banks.
The central bank explained that to ensure the safety of the financial and banking system, all banks operating in the country are not allowed to trade ‘bitcion’, open accounts to trade with ‘bitcion’, or send and receive any money transfers to buy or sell ‘bitcion’. The last part of the statement would specifically target the bank’s customers who would theoretically be restricted from transferring fiat to and from crypto exchanges, although the ban wasn’t actively enforced up until the end of 2019.
February 2018 – The Qatar Central Bank passed legislation that explicitly prohibited the use of crypto by adopting new regulations that focused on combating money laundering and financing terrorism. Under Sharia law, speculative assets are not allowed and the Qatar Central Bank governor explained that crypto was included in the legislation. This legislation not only affected financial institutions but also their customers as the law was strictly enforced which prevented individuals from using their bank accounts to transact with crypto exchanges.
February 2018 – Shortly thereafter the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority announced in a statement that no virtual asset service may be conducted in or from the Qatar Finance Center (QFC). The QFC is an onshore business and financial center located in Doha, Qatar that provides legal and regulatory services for over 500 local and international firms with over $20 billion in assets.
None of the above actions specifically target individual crypto users and no individuals have been prosecuted for using crypto in Qatar.
As expected the restrictions have little to no bearing on tourists who already own crypto. It would still be wise to keep your crypto activities on the down low; complete any transactions you have planned before you leave and use a crypto-accepting VPN while you are there.
Qatari residents face the impact of the Qatar Central Bank’s legislation which prohibits all banks from processing any crypto-related transactions. These restrictions include individual account holders depositing or withdrawing fiat from crypto exchanges or service providers. Despite this issue, there have been numerous cases where residents have successfully traded crypto using:
- eToro – the exchange that trades crypto, forex and stocks.
- Binance P2P – funded by either a Qatar Islamic Bank or a Qatar Islamic Bank credit card.
Liquidating crypto and then cashing out is facilitated by a Paypal account linked to a Qatar National Bank account.
By the way, if you were planning on betting with crypto or fiat gambling is banned in Qatar as well! However, as most punters intend to watch the event outside of the host nation, this isn’t something that is likely to have a huge impact on bettors. Just because gambling is banned in Qatar, doesn’t mean that it’s banned for events that take place within the country.
As such, anyone who wants to place a bet on anything related to the World Cup will be able to do so as long as they are in a country with legal gambling.