Belgium Central Bank Remains Positive About Bitcoin, Unofficially

Joon Ian Wong
Jan 8, 2014 at 16:30 UTC
Updated Jul 24, 2014 at 11:40 UTC

The National Bank of Belgium doesn’t have any plans to regulate bitcoin further, according to the Belgian Bitcoin Association.

Belgium’s central bank met with the Association to discuss the digital currency last Monday, describing the meeting as “informal”.

“There are currently no plans for new regulations in Belgium that would allow the [central bank] to take a more intervening [sic] stance – though future regulations to that effect cannot be excluded,” read a statement from the association.

Thomas Spaas, a board member who represented the Belgian Bitcoin Association at the meeting, said that although the meeting was informal and did not reflect the central bank’s official position, he expected Belgium to adopt a similar position to France, the Netherlands and Germany, where bitcoin is considered to be beyond the scope of current regulations.

Spaas also said that the central bank would likely issue a risk warning to investors similar to statements issued by other central banks in Europe. The association’s statement on the meeting said the central bank welcomed businesses and organisations dealing in bitcoin to contact them if they had any doubts about the current regulatory regime.

The Belgian Bitcoin Association put a positive spin on the meeting:

“All in all, the Belgian Bitcoin Association welcomes the current open and positive attitude of the Belgian National Bank. [The association] intends to have similar meetings with the other Belgian government agencies involved in any regulation of bitcoin in Belgium.”

Spaas said the meeting was attended by two central bank officials — a payment services expert and a representative from the legal department — and himself. He described the officials as “pretty well informed” about bitcoin.

Dutch exchange Bitplaats opened a Belgian portal two weeks ago to meet demand from Belgian users.

Belgium, a country with a population of 11 million and a per capita GDP larger than Germany, is still shaking off years of political and financial problems triggered by the global financial crisis of 2008. Its biggest banks are still paying back hundreds of millions of euros to the state for bailouts that were made during the crisis. Spaas said:

“I think the Belgian authorities are more preoccupied with issues other than bitcoin, which gives [the digital currency] some leeway. But if the contacts we’ve had with the National Bank of Belgium are anything to go by, it seems like bitcoin in Belgium will have a fair chance.”

Bruges Image via Shutterstock

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