Actually, one would have expected something different from Honduras as the home of the crypto-friendly Prospera free trade zone. However, the financial regulator is now making it clear that it does not want to tolerate a crypto economy.

Honduras’ financial regulator CNBS (The National Banking and Insurance Commission) prohibits financial institutions from using cryptocurrencies and other assets. You are not allowed to hold them, not invest in them, not refer them to your customers and not trade with them. Assets whose returns are based on virtual currencies or crypto assets are also taboo.

The reason for the restrictive measure, explains the CNBS, is to avoid risks for savers. In addition, the regulator warns that virtual currencies represent assets that are not backed by the Central Bank of Honduras or other authorities.

Since cryptocurrencies are not legal tender, people using them “would have to take into account that their acceptance could be stopped at any time, as people are not legally obliged to recognize them as a means of payment.”

One of the biggest risks lies in money laundering. The CNBS relies on a recommendation from the Latin American Financial Action Group (GAFILAT) to take the associated risks into account. Banks and individuals who operate with cryptocurrencies risk becoming involved in money laundering.

Only regulated financial institutions are affected by the decree. Citizens and other companies are still free to invest in cryptocurrencies or use them as a means of payment. In a sense, Honduras is giving up any opportunity to control and profit from cryptocurrency trading without protecting its citizens from perceived risks.

What this means for the Prospera free trade zone is still unclear. Prospera only recently allowed taxes to be calculated and paid in cryptocurrencies. The special economic zone on an island off Honduras is extremely crypto-friendly and is probably trying to attract libertarian and wealthy investors, founders and residents.

It is currently unknown whether the strict decision by the country’s financial regulator will also apply to Prospera and what will follow from it.


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