Malaysia should adopt crypto as legal tender, ministry says

Malaysia should adopt crypto as legal tender, ministry says

FILE PHOTO: A representation of cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this illustration taken Aug 6, 2021. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: A representation of cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this illustration taken Aug 6, 2021. (Reuters)

Malaysia should adopt Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legal tender, the deputy minister of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry said.

“We hope the government can allow this,” Zahidi Zainul Abidin said in Parliament on Monday, responding to a question from an opposition member of the legislature. 

So far, El Salvador is the only country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender -- and with mixed success. A survey of companies by its Chamber of Commerce published this month found that just 14% had transacted in Bitcoin since September, when El Salvador recognized it as legal tender. 

Malaysia’s Communications nd Multimedia Ministry oversees the digital and broadcasting sectors, with tasks ranging from the rollout of 5G mobile networks to attracting investments into the technology industry. Zahidi didn’t specify what involvement the ministry has in digital assets.   

While financial regulation falls under the Finance Ministry and entities under it such as the central bank and the securities regulator, The Ministry of Housing and Local Government also has jurisdiction over “digital financial activities,” Zahidi said. 

The central bank hasn’t announced any formal position on adopting Bitcoin as legal tender. It told Bloomberg News in January that it’s assessing whether to introduce a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. Bank Negara Malaysia didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Zahidi’s remarks. 

In September, the country joined forces with the Bank for International Settlements, Australia, Singapore and South Africa to test the use of CBDCs for international settlements via a shared platform in a project dubbed Project Dunbar. 

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