New Details on Bank Al Maghrib’s Draft Crypto Assets Regulation

We know a little more about the crypto asset regulation project Morocco is working on. A draft regulation defining: a policy framework for cryptocurrency exchanges.

This was explained by Adil Zbir, the head of monitoring financial market infrastructures and payment systems at Bank Al-Maghrib.

During the plenary session on “payment systems integration: a growth accelerator”, one of the topics discussed in the context of the US-Africa Business Summit, which was held in Marrakech from 19 to 22 July, the official of the central bank sheds some light on Bank Al Maghrib’s view on cryptocurrencies and its approach to regulating their use.

“The bill being prepared aims to regulate cryptocurrency trading platforms. Like France, to take this example, there must be a licensing and approval system precisely to enable these platforms to offer their services to Moroccan consumers,” he says.

Exactly, on the week of July 15, Changpeng Zhao, the founder of one of the major cryptocurrency exchange platforms binance, met the Central Bank teams for a short chat with the wali, Abdellatif Jouahri.

“We are working on a regulation (regulatory project, editor’s note) that will allow these platforms to exist,” he continues. “The aim is to reflect on the issue of regulation that will lead to a bill that I believe will be the most balanced”.

Bank Al Maghrib vigilant

Adil Zbir prefers to talk about crypto assets over cryptocurrencies, “because their role of payment is a secondary one compared to what is actually done,” explains Adil Zbir that “the reflection at the start was to put a commission on who is thinking about digital currencies”.

“In all seriousness, as cryptocurrencies started to take over the world, we were quite suspicious. We are not in the ban, but we are vigilant,” he says.

“So we established a Central Bank Digital Currencies Committee (MDBC) which had a working group on cryptocurrencies that brings all regulators together,” suggests Adil Zbir.

The presence of other financial sector regulators is explained by their concern, especially the market authorities, because “most operations are conducted as financial investments. The transactions done at the global level are more financial instruments in which we invest, we save obviously with a certain speculation and volatility,” he specifies.

The strong presence of volatility is one of the reasons why Bank Al Maghrib does not consider cryptocurrencies as currencies in their primary role.

Regulations, yes, “but in all safety”insists the head of financial market infrastructure and payment systems monitoring at Bank Al-Maghrib.

“Especially because there are two issues that concern us and us, money laundering and terrorist financing,” he says.

Safety first

One of the main issues to be addressed is that of cybersecurity. It’s crucial. When you’re in the payments business, cybersecurity becomes a Big problem.

“As a regulator, we always struggle to ensure the balance between safety and innovation. If you have a population of fintechs that are the most flexible and innovative, they want us to leave as soon as possible,” said the Central Bank representative.

At the national level, he explains that Bank Al Maghrib tried to have the most agile strategy when it launched its digital strategy in 2019. “We focus the strategy on two important pillars: the Digital Lab internally to receive all fintechs who want to digitize the fundamental missions of the Central Bank, especially in the field of supervision and regulation”.

“And for the outside we have setting up the “one stop shop Fintechs” which aims to welcome Fintechs who want to operate in Morocco. It was installed at the level of the entity responsible for payments because there is one of the most telling metrics: 40% of Fintechs are engaged in payment activities.”

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