The Albanian government is planning a regulatory framework for digital assets in an effort to become a hub for digital asset investment in the Western Balkan region, a report from the Tirana Times said on Oct. 22.
The announcement makes Albania the latest in a series of governments warming to cryptocurrencies and trying to draw investors in the field, including Malta, Singapore, Israel, and Gibraltar. Prime Minister Edi Rama stated in an interview with the Tirana Times:
“As part of our effort to open up new markets and create new opportunities for well-paid jobs and qualified people… we are exploring the possibility of setting up a regulatory framework on cryptocurrency which is a shocking novelty nowadays and where the opportunity to be innovative and set up a center of gravity for innovative financial markets is open for every country despite their level of development.”
Rama may have an uphill battle ahead of him. Though he believes that crypto can create new job opportunities and bring an influx of business to Albania, the country’s financial authorities have repeatedly cautioned investors against investing in the space. In a recent research paper, the Bank of Albania raised questions about the possibility of crypto and fiat currencies coexisting.
No financial institutions are currently licensed to issue cryptocurrencies in the country, according to the Albanian Financial Supervisory Authority. The head of the institution Ervin Koçi stated in an interview that while it can’t stop people from investing in crypto online through interests outside Albania, they should be vigilant:
“Of course there might be individuals or businesses in Albania investing online using the internet in companies which are issuing these initial coin offerings outside of Albania, but they should be aware that they carry all the risks and are responsible for their own choices when making such an investment.”
Nonetheless, Rama says his government has conducted a thorough study of the space and are drafting a rough regulatory framework, stating at a public event:
“For the moment, we are assessing and working on the drafting of a regulatory framework after having conducted a thorough analysis and study. If the results are satisfactory, then we will promote even outside Albania, the country’s willingness to become a hub for numerous potential investors that target getting involved in this revolution of global finances.”
Albania has already taken steps to tamp down fraud when dozens of unlicensed brokerages were found to be scamming investors out of their money via call center scams. The scammers were reportedly engaged in tax evasion and fraud, and exposing its victims to serious legal risk. The Albania government launched a probe into the centers after their exposure by an investigative media outlet.