Cambodia and Cryptocurrency

Cambodia Cryptocurrency
Digital Currencies Laws: Cryptocurrency, Bitcoins, Blockchain Technology

Cambodia has announced that it will release a government-backed digital currency.  Named “Project Bakong,” projects has been described as developing a “blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform.”  The project is designed to explore the use of an alternative technology platform to further enhance the payment system in Cambodia and promote use of the Cambodian Riel (“KHR”).

Nonetheless, virtual currencies are not currently defined or regulated under Cambodian law.  Cambodia generally regulates electronic money pursuant to Prakas No. B14-107-161 on the Management of Payment Service Provider.  However, its provisions are not specifically targeted to cryptocurrencies.

Previously, the National Bank of Cambodia, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia and the General-Commissariat of National Police in Cambodia released a joint statement providing that “the propagation, circulation, buying, selling, trading and settlement of Crypto Currencies without obtaining license from competent authorities are illegal activities.”  The joint statement further warned that:

The propagation, circulation, buying, selling, trading and settlement of Crypto Currencies such as KH Coin, Suncoin, K coin, One-coin, Forex coin and other similar Crypto Currencies which are not regulated by competent authorities will cause potential risks to the publics and society as a whole as the following:

–  The issuance of Cryptocurrencies is not backed by collateral

–  Investment in Crypto Currencies may incur losses due to volatility of its face value.

–  Facing cybercrime and losses of funds due to the system being hacked

–  There is no customer protection mechanism and the user of Crypto Currencies is an anonymous person who has no identity or historical records, which may cause risks of money laundering and financing of terrorism.

In this stage, the competent authorities appeal that the publics be cautious of the propagation to mobilize funds and the operations of buying, selling, trading and settlement of CryptoCurrencies without obtaining a license from competent authorities.

Any person or legal entity that propagates to mobilize funds, buys, sells, trades or settles Crypto Currencies without obtaining license from competent authorities shall be penalized in accordance with applicable laws.

Cambodia Virtual Currency Laws And Agreements

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) “signed an agreement with a Japanese firm . . . to develop a blockchain-based project for its own internal use, which would track interbank lending and transactions” in April 2017.  However, it only addresses interbank transactions.

As early as 2016, the National Bank of Cambodia established a working group to explore the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (“DLT”) in payment systems. By early 2017, the group had developed use-cases under the auspices of Project Bakong. The project’s name, Bakong, derives from a prominent Khmer temple from 9th century whose architecture was replicated to build Cambodian Independent Monument in 1958.

Nonetheless, currently, the legal status of virtual currencies in Cambodia remains ambiguous.

P.S. Insights on Cryptocurrency Legal Issues

Most jurisdictions and authorities have yet to enact laws governing cryptocurrencies, meaning that, for most countries, the legality of crypto mining remains unclear.

Under the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), crypto miners are considered money transmitters, so they may be subject to the laws that govern that activity. In Israel, for instance, crypto mining is treated as a business and is subject to corporate income tax. In India and elsewhere, regulatory uncertainty persists, although Canada and the United States are relatively friendly to crypto mining.

However, apart from jurisdictions that have specifically banned cryptocurrency-related activities, very few countries prohibit crypto mining.

Our Freeman Law Cryptocurrency Law Resource page provides a summary of the legal status of cryptocurrency for each country across the globe with statutory or regulatory provisions governing cryptocurrency.  The globe below provides links to country-by-country summaries:

The Freeman Law Project – Cryptocurrency Regulation and Taxation: A Brief Primer

Is cryptocurrency legal in Cambodia?
Do you have questions about cryptocurrency, digital currency, or blockchain technology?
Freeman Law can help with digital currencies, tax planning, and tax compliance. Contact us now to schedule a consultation or call (214) 984-3410 to discuss your cryptocurrency and blockchain technology concerns.

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