Cryptocurrency Trading Is Strictly Prohibited In Saudi Arabia, Regulators Reaffirm Stance Against Virtual Currencies

  • Saudi Arabia's regulators have reaffirmed their stance against cryptocurrencies.
  • Crypto trading is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and claims by local websites about being "authorized" to provide crypto services are incorrect.
  • Saudi regulators have warned against the potential scams associated with virtual currencies.

Saudi Arabia’s regulatory authorities recently issued a warning stating that cryptocurrency trading is considered illegal in the country.

The Saudi Arabian Standing Committee, which monitors securities activities in the kingdom’s foreign exchange market, reaffirmed that the use of Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital currencies is strictly prohibited. Members of the regulatory committee include the nation’s Monetary Agency (SAMA), its Capital Market Authority, officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Trade and Investment, and the Ministry of Information.

“No Parties Licensed” To Offer Crypto Services

Notably, the official announcement against crypto trading has been issued after a number of local websites and social media accounts claimed to have been licensed or “authorized” to offer crypto-related services. The Saudi Arabian Standing Committee further clarified that “no parties or individuals are licensed for such practices.”

Moreover, Saudi regulators warned the country’s residents regarding the risks involved in the cryptocurrency market. Per the kingdom’s authorities, local investors should avoid dealing in digital currencies, not only because of their volatile nature, but also due to the large numbers of scams associated with them.

Additionally, Saudi regulators said that cryptocurrency transactions can be hard to trace, and crypto-related contracts offered to investors may not be legally enforceable “as they are out of government supervision.”

“Reducing Marketing For Investment” In Virtual Currencies

While Saudi authorities have been quite clear about their stance against cryptocurrencies, they have not stated what consequences there might be for individuals and organizations who may continue to trade or invest in cryptos.

However, the standing regulatory committee has been tasked with informing the Saudi government’s officials regarding any crypto-related activities in the country. It appears that the kingdom wants to “reduce marketing for investment and trading in Forex and virtual currencies”, according to its official announcement.

Earlier in February, Crypto Globe reported that Saudi regulators had been monitoring the cryptocurrency market. Mohammed ElKuwaiz, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority, had said that the nation’s government was “evaluating what [their] proper regulatory response should be.”

Although ElKuwaiz had also stated that Saudi regulators would “come up with something very soon”, it now seems that the country may not be as receptive to cryptos, presumably due to the increasing number of fraudulent activities associated with them.

In October, 2017, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a well-known business tycoon in the Middle East, had said that bitcoin will “implode.” He also noted that cryptocurrencies “don’t make sense [because they are] not regulated” by central banks.

Notably, the Saudi Prince even said that cryptos were “Enron in the making”, which was a giant American energy and commodities trading company that filed for bankruptcy in 2001, after it was charged with corruption and accounting fraud.


HTC Says Its Latest Cryptophone Puts 'A Metaphorical Swiss Bank in Your Pocket'

On Saturday (October 19), Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC launched the Exodus 1s, which it says is "the first ever mobile device with Bitcoin Full Node support."

A Brief History of HTC's Experience With Building Crypto-Friendly Phones

On 15 May 2018, at the Consensus 2018 blockchain summit in New York City, Phil Chen, the "Decentralized Chief Officer" (DCO) for HTC announced the firm's plan to create HTC Exodus, "the world's first native blockchain phone."

The first Exodus model to launch was the Exodus 1, which went on sale in Europe and the U.S. late last year. It initially cost 0.15 BTC (though later, it became possible to buy it for $699). HTC's reason for calling this a "blockchain phone" was that it came with a built-in hardware wallet and a pre-installed Decentralized Apps (DApps) browser that was integrated with this hardware.

HTC says that its wallet app, Zion Vault, "uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to protect your private keys and sensitive data," and that it supports storing, sending, and receiving organize over 100 types of cryptocurrencies."

The HTC Exodus 1 is a dual-sim Android-powered phone with the following specs:

  • 6.0” Quad HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 processor
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android Oreo (i.e. Android version 8.x)
  • 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM

What happened next is that HTC used its experience with the Exodus 1 and feedback from developers and the market to build a more budget-friendly device: the Exodus 1s. This is the device that HTC introduced yesterday at the two-day Lightning Conference in Berlin. In fact, HTC started selling some of the first production units at this event, and was even accepting payments via Bitcoin's Lightning Network. Other cryptocurrencies that HTC accepts as means of payment are Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB), and Bitcoin Cash.

The HTC Exodus 1s

So now know that HTC has two crypto-friendly phones, the Exodus 1 and the Exodus 1s. These days, HTC has a new term to describe its crypto-friendly Exodus phones; on the Exodus website, it says  "SMARTPHONE + HARDWARE WALLET = CRYPTOPHONE". This means that HTC is currently selling two cryptophones.

What is special about the HTC Exodus 1 is not just its lower price (EUR 210, which is approximately USD 235), but the fact that, according to HTC, it is the first mobile phone that supports running a Bitcoin full node (with the blockchain data to be stored on a 400GB microSD card that needs to be purchased separately).

HTC says that running a Bitcoin full node on your phone "not only grows the Bitcoin network, but also help secure it." HTC also believes that it is better not to "wait for others to verify your transactions", and that with this phone, you can "verify yourself, anytime, anywhere."

Here is Chen (HTC's DCO) explaining to Forbes the significance of running your Bitcoin full node:

It plays a really important role in the whole bitcoin ecosystem. It allows you to relay transactions, confirm transactions, validate transactions, and it’s basically one of the best ways for anybody to contribute to the whole security of the network.

According to Techcrunch, Chen believes that with the Exodus 1s, you can essentially have a "a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket":

We gave users the ability to own their own keys, and now we’ve gone one step further to allow users to run their own full Bitcoin node. We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.

Chen also told Forbes that HTC is considering adding support for other major blockchains:

We’ll certainly learn a lot of how people will interact with bitcoin, what they do with a full node, and we want to apply those learnings to future other public blockchains.

 These are the specs for the HTC Exodus 1s:

  • 5.7” HD+ 18:9 display
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 435 processor
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM

The HTC Exodus 1s will be initially available in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (but HTC plans to offer the phone at some future date in other countries).

In case you are wondering why HTC is so interested in crypto, this is what Chen told CNBC:

Initially considered a gimmick by some, crypto technology is the next frontier of smartphone innovation. For the smartphone category to grow again, we need more adoption of cryptophones.

HTC's CEO said in an interview with Techcrunch that although we don't yet have mainstream adoption of cryptophones, the Exodus 1s gives consumers "an inexpensive way to see what the technology provides today."


Featured Image Courtesy of HTC