Macau's top financial regulator has barred banks and payments providers in the region from providing services to initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

In a statement, the Macau Monetary Authority (MMA) announced today that these companies cannot engage with bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies either "directly or indirectly." Macau, like Hong Kong, is an autonomous administrative region within China. 

The directive corresponds with recent moves by Chinese regulators to crack down on ICOs, declaring the funding model to constitute a form of illegal fundraising.

The announcement from the MMA states:

"Due to recent happenings of financing activities through issuance of tokens in the Mainland, financial institutions and non-bank payment institutions are prohibited explicitly by Mainland authorities from providing services for these tokens and virtual currencies. At the same time, this Authority also issued a notice on 20 September 2017 to remind all the banking and payment institutions in Macao not to participate in or provide, directly or indirectly, any financial services for the related activities."

The release further points to an earlier 2014 analysis by the agency, which stated that bitcoin is neither regulated nor a legal currency.

"Any trading of these commodities involves considerable risks, including but not limited to those relating to money laundering and terrorism financing, against which all participants should remain vigilant," the MMA wrote.

Macau via Shutterstock


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