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Belarus launches 'world’s first' online crypto exchange
Belarus has launched a trading platform, described as the world’s first regulated tokenised securities exchange, which allows traders to buy shares, precious metals, foreign exchange and other traditional assets with cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported Jan. 15.
The project is backed by two investment companies, VP Capital owned by Viktor Prokopenya and Larnabel Ventures headed by Said Gutseriev.
“This is the first platform in the world where cryptoinvestors will be able to diversify their investments into real assets,” Prokopenya told the news agency.
The Belarusian project allows traders to buy tokens using cryptocurrencies via website or app. The tokens track the value of assets in Belarus and abroad. Moreover, the government allowed transactions with tokens to be tax-free until 2023.
Since its launch, the platform has reportedly issued 150 different types of tokens, with each corresponding to a traditional financial instrument. The owners expect to eventually grow this number to 10,000.
The platform also offers the sale of shares in various major companies like Amazon, Apple, and Coca-Cola and commodities such as gold, silver and Brent Crude.
Within the first two hours from launch, it received 2,000 applications for registration.
According to Prokopenya, a trader must pass a verification procedure to guard against money laundering.
“The standards that have been developed in Belarus are correct, they correspond to accepted international practices,” Prokopenya added.
According to the platform's white paper, Belarus is the only country in the world to have developed its own specific and discrete legal framework from scratch for the regulation of cryptocurrencies, ICOs, smart contracts and assets, and specifically for tokenised securities.
The Belarusian government signed Decree No 8, On the Development of a Digital Economy, on 21 December 2017, granting the client – as a stakeholder in blockchain technology – greater protection in line with Belarus’s strict AML rules and requirements for companies offering token-to-token transactions and other crypto-related services.
The Belarusian decree strongly emphasises the protection of personal data, implementing structures that guarantee data protection to the same level as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. It also features comprehensive Know Your Client (KYC) regulations to ensure adherence to international standards around fraud prevention.
The platform is licensed, authorised and regulated by the High Technologies Park of Belarus, a national special economic zone dedicated to the IT industry.
According to Reuters, the Belarusian IT sector has grown by around 20 percent annually. IT exports grew 40 percent in the first nine months of 2018, having crossed $1 billion for the first time in 2017.
The tokenised securities trading platform will be supplemented by a free platform for trading and exchanging cryptocurrencies using fiat money, storing holdings in a secure place and making cross-crypto exchanges; as well as Moonfolio, a free all-in-one cryptocurrency portfolio tracking app which allows users to build a diversified cryptocurrency portfolio from scratch.
The platform's iOS and Android apps will be available for beta testing from February 2019.