Last week, Pakistan’s Sindh High Court held a hearing on the legal status of digital currencies that might lead to an outright ban of cryptocurrency trading combined with penalties against crypto exchanges. Several days later, the Central Bank of Russia called for a ban on both crypto trading and mining operations. Both countries could join the growing ranks of nations that have moved to outlaw digital assets, which already include China, Turkey, Iran and several other jurisdictions.

According to a report by the Library of Congress, there are currently nine jurisdictions that have applied an absolute ban on crypto and 42 with an implicit ban. The authors of the report highlight a worrisome trend: The number of countries banning crypto has more than doubled since 2018. Here are the countries that banned certain cryptocurrency-related activities or announced their intention to do so in 2021 and early 2022.


The Central Bank of Bolivia issued its first crypto prohibition resolution in late 2020, but it was not until Jan. 13, 2022 that the ban was formally ratified. The language of the most recent ban specifically targets “private initiatives related to the use and commercialization of [...] cryptoassets.”

The regulator justified the move as investor protection considerations. It warned of “potential risks of generating economic losses to the [...] holders” and emphasized the need to protect Bolivians from fraud and scams.


Cryptocurrency transactions have been formally banned in China since 2019, but it was last year that the government took steps to clamp down on crypto activity in earnest. After several official warnings of the risks associated with crypto investment, China banned cryptocurrency mining and forbade the nation’s banks from facilitating any operations with digital assets. But the crucial statement came on Sept. 24 when a concert of the major state regulators vowed to jointly enforce a ban on all crypto transactions and mining.

Apart from the commonly cited notions of money laundering and investor protection, Chinese officials played the environmental card in their fight agains mining, which is a bold move for a country that contributes up to 26% of global carbon dioxide emissions, of which crypto mining represents a marginal share.


On Nov. 11, 2021, The National Ulema Council of Indonesia (MUI), the nation’s top Islamic scholarly body, proclaimed cryptocurrencies to be haram, or forbidden on religious grounds. MUI’s directions are not legally binding, and as such, it will not necessarily halt all cryptocurrency trading. However, it could deal a significant blow to the crypto scene of the nation with the largest number of Muslim citizens and affect future governmental policies.

MUI’s determination mirrors a common interpretation that has been shaping up across jurisdictions influenced by the Islamic legal tradition. It views crypto activity as wagering — a concept that arguably could be used to define almost any capitalist activity.

On Jan. 20, the religious anti-crypto push was furthered by another non-governmental Islamic organization in Indonesia, The Tarjih Council and the Central Executive Tajdid of Muhammadiyah. It confirmed the haram status of cryptocurrencies by issuing a fatwa (a ruling under Islamic law) that focuses on the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies and their lack of capacity to serve as a medium of exchange by Islamic legal standards.


On Sept. 9, 2021, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank of Nepal, issued a notice with the headline “Cryptocurrency transactions are illegal.” The regulator, referencing the national Foreign Exchange Act of 2019, declared cryptocurrency trading, mining and “encouraging the illegal activities” as punishable by law. NRB separately underlined that individual users are also to be held responsible for violations related to crypto trading.

A statement from Ramu Paudel, executive director of the Foreign Exchange Management Department of NRB, emphasized the threat of “swindling” to the general population.


A U-turn in Nigeria’s national policy on digital assets was cemented on Feb. 12, 2021, when the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission announced it was suspending all plans for crypto regulation, following a ban by the central bank introduced a week earlier. The nation’s central bank ordered commercial banks to shut down all crypto-related accounts and warned of penalties for noncompliance.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s explanation for such a crackdown includes a number of familiar concerns such as price volatility and the potential for money laundering and the financing of terrorism. At the same time, CBN governor Godwin Emefiele stated that the central bank was still interested in digital currencies and that the government was exploring various policy scenarios.