Dutch investigating ban on some cryptocurrency exchanges

Bitcoin cryptocurrency and euros
Bitcoin and Ethereum "tokens" on a stack of euros. November 29, 2017.photo: outsiderzoneDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Financie is looking into whether banning certain cryptocurrency exchanges is desirable and possible. He hopes to give the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, information about this in the next few weeks, AD reports.

According to Hoekstra, the government would like to ban bitcoin derived products such as binary options - where people basically gamble on whether an asset like Bitcoin will rise to a specific price, or fall below a certain amount. But he added that this must first be properly investigated. 

It is unclear if a ban would affect regulated practices, like Bitcoin Futures traded on some traditional stock exchanges. The NYSE, which shares the same parent company as the AEX in Amsterdam, has asked U.S. regulators for permission to offer such a future like their competitors in Chicago.

The Dutch Minister has been warning against investing in cryptocurrency for some time, under the motto "look before you leap", The Dutch regulator for financial markets AFM and Dutch central bank DNB also warn that investing in cryptocurrencies is very risky. But despite these warnings, the number of Dutch doing so shows no significant decline, Hoekstra said. 

Last month the AFM also called for a ban on cryptocurrency derivatives. Banning cryptocurrencies themselves is difficult because they are not investment products and therefore do not fall under the AFM's mandate. "But there are also products for sale with which you can speculate on price rises and falls of crypto coins. Those derivatives can be banned", CEO Merel van Vroonhoven in de Volkskrant. 

According to the regulator, at least 135 thousand Dutch are investing in cryptocurrency without seriously considering the risks. According to a recent study by Maurice de Hond, that figure is actually much higher - some 400 thousand Dutch have a total of around 3 billion euros invested in cryptocurrency, that study found.