Botswana's Virtual Asset Bill Passes, Heads To President Masisi's Desk For Signature
Botswana lawmakers approved the “Virtual Asset Bill” today, February 2nd, in the country’s parliament. A welcomed move that could result in Botswana becoming one of the first countries in Africa to have laws regulating cryptocurrencies. In continuing efforts to tighten anti-money laundering measures, the bill will impose a comprehensive regulatory framework on cryptocurrency trading and other virtual assets.
By Andrew Senior
February 2nd, 2022
The bill will also regulate new and developing businesses operating within the crypto industry, or other similar fields, along with developing a regulatory body with specific powers to function within that space.
The Virtual Asset Bill was presented alongside several other bills including the Financial Intelligence Bill and its approval comes just over two months after Botswana’s central bank issued a warning to residents engaged in cryptocurrency trading that the country does not currently have a regulatory framework to govern such trading.
In the initial draft of the bill, Botswana authorities suggested that they are not only seeking to recognize crypto trade but plan to include “provisions for managing, mitigating and preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism” into the regulatory framework. The new bill also seeks to mitigate the financial risks associated with virtual assets, new emerging business practices, and emerging technologies.
The draft bill states:
“Part III further provides that the Regulatory Authority may grant a licence if the applicant demonstrates that it has the necessary infrastructure and resources to carry out the business activities of a virtual asset service provider or issuer of initial token offerings and that the applicant is a fit and proper person. The definition of “fit and proper” is provided for in clause 11 (2) consistently with the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Act.”
According to those that supported the bill from the start, if left unchecked the crypto industry would quickly make the local financial sector look like a new version of the “Wild West.” The new legislation will require anyone seeking to trade crypto to get a license from the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority.
The bill still needs to get its final approval by President Masisi and his administration before becoming law.
With its new regulatory intentions, Botswana is pulling a seat up to the table with a growing number of nations interesting in regulating cryptocurrencies. Earlier this week, the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, proposed that any income generated from cryptocurrency activity be taxed at a rate of 30%. Last month, the Russian central bank called upon a total ban on everything crypto, yet, shortly after, President Putin and Russia’s Finance Ministry commented that operations with digital assets could benefit the nation.
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