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Taliban Targeting Afghan Crypto Users


Key Takeaways

  • The Afghan central bank declared crypto illegal last month.
  • The Taliban government is now enforcing the ban. 13 people have been arrested in Herat, and 20 businesses have been closed down.
  • Cryptocurrencies were a popular technology before the ban as they offer users the ability to store wealth or transfer it over great distances easily.

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Afghan police forces are targeting crypto dealers for trading what is now considered “fraudulent digital currencies” by the nation’s central bank.

“Fraudulent” Currencies

The Taliban is coming for crypto owners.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is arresting cryptocurrency dealers that are defying orders to stop trading digital assets. The crackdown comes a month after the nation’s central bank imposed a nationwide ban on crypto.

“The central bank gave us an order to stop all money changers, individuals, and businesspeople from trading fraudulent digital currencies like what is commonly referred to as Bitcoin,” stated Herat police head of criminal investigations Sayed Shah Saadaat. 

Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan; it reportedly hosts four of the six Afghan crypto exchanges. Saadaat claimed that 20 crypto businesses had been closed in the city and 13 people arrested.

Demand for cryptocurrencies, especially stablecoins, was high in Afghanistan before the central bank’s blanket ban on the technology. They offer users a secure way of storing wealth and a means to move money across (or out of) the country. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that aim to stay at parity with government-issued currencies such as the U.S. dollar or the euro.

Afghanistan has been the subject of severe economic sanctions since the 1990s. The Biden administration imposed a new round of sanctions shortly after the Taliban returned to power and took Kabul; it also seized more than $7 billion of Afghan treasury held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Afghanistan is not the only country taking a tough stance against crypto. In an effort to maintain the ruble’s stability, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed off on legislation rendering crypto payments illegal. China also famously banned cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin mining in the summer of 2021.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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