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From tuk tuks to COVID tests, YouTuber tests Bitcoin use cases across multiple countries

A YouTuber started a journey in September to see whether he could survive solely on Bitcoin as a means of payment while traveling to 40 different countries.Speaking to Cointelegraph on Monday, YouTuber Paco De La India — or “Paco from India” — said though the spread of omicron had somewhat altered his original travel plans, he was still surprised at how many people had accepted Bitcoin (BTC) in countries where crypto was in a legally or regulatory grey area. Beginning his journey in the Indian city of Bengaluru, Paco sold his belongings in September 2021 and mostly relied on BTC donations to fund his trip — which, so far, has taken him across India, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, and Cambodia.The YouTuber, who said he preferred to use non-custodial wallets and Lightning for BTC transactions, originally planned to visit 40 countries for 10 days each, but COVID restrictions had somewhat altered his itinerary. Paco is working around mandatory quarantines, many countries’ requirements for tourists to stay within their borders for at least 14 days, and additional costs for polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests.Paco, speaking from Siem Reap, CambodiaAccording to Paco, two people conducting his COVID test in India for travel to the UAE accepted BTC in lieu of fiat rupees without hesitation. In addition, he was able to negotiate with test takers in Thailand for a PCR test to travel to Cambodia. The YouTuber attributed part of the reason behind the acceptance of crypto payments to officials more concerned with verifying vaccine certificates than COVID tests.“At the end of the day, it’s a piece of paper,” said Paco. “It’s just a piece of paper which is no way possible to verify. The only thing that they’re checking right now is the vaccine, because of the QR code.” Related: Cryptocurrency Adoption: How Can Crypto Change the Travel Industry?Though many countries have announced plans to verify the authenticity of COVID-19 test results using blockchain technology, there does not seem to be an international standard for immigration officials to recognize tests conducted in foreign nations. For example, travelers flying to the United States are required to complete a rapid COVID test within 24 hours of arrival, but not all health passport apps recommended by U.S. airlines can recognize QR codes provided by foreign testing centers.In addition to COVID tests, Paco said he had been able to survive on Bitcoin as a method of payment often by sheer chance, never forcing crypto on an unsuspecting party and surprised at how many random vendors were open to it. According to the YouTuber, he had been forced to avoid most public transportation in these four countries and use his debit card to fuel his bike, but was connecting with more people on the ground.[embedded content]“Thailand is super crypto-friendly,” said Paco. “Cambodia is another [super friendly] place. UAE, it looks like that but I feel it’s just between the richest people.” He added:“I have changed my approach a lot. I’ve gone more from talking to the old people who have already lived their life to finding young people who are really tech savvy […] They’re really curious about [Bitcoin]. It’s always: they want to make money. Everyone just looks at Bitcoin as making money.”

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Crypto makes history in 2021: Five instances of governments embracing digital assets

As digital asset prices had been hitting new historical highs in 2021, many jurisdictions were increasingly adopting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto-based instruments.In addition to Bitcoin crossing $68,000 for the first time since inception, the year of 2021 will be remembered for Bitcoin’s historical adoption as legal tender in El Salvador. The world’s first-ever Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) was also inaugurated in 2021, alongside many other benign regulatory developments around the world.As we glance back at notable global regulatory moments in 2021, Cointelegraph has picked some of the most memorable instances of friendly crypto regulation.1. El Salvador: The first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tenderThe Republic of El Salvador, the smallest nation in Central America, officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender on Sept. 7, 2021, becoming the world’s first country to do so. Bitcoin was trading at around $47,000 on the day of Bitcoin’s official adoption in the country.El Salvador’s bold Bitcoin move took several months to materialize as president Nayib Bukele had first introduced the “Bitcoin Law,” laying the groundwork for BTC’s usage as an official payment method alongside the United States dollar in June 2021. The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly subsequently passed the law, which amassed a supermajority of 62 out of 84 votes.Known as the “Land of Volcanoes,” El Salvador also moved to deploy its volcanic activity to generate new Bitcoin. In September, president Bukele teased a Bitcoin mining plant powered by volcanic geothermal energy in El Salvador, marking a major case for cutting BTC’s carbon footprint. Soon after, Bukele upped the stakes even further when he announced plans to establish an entire Bitcoin city, funded by BTC bonds.While the crypto community celebrated El Salvador’s BTC drive, global financial authorities like the International Monetary Fund have expressed skepticism about the government’s move into crypto.Related: El Salvador buys 21 Bitcoin to celebrate Dec. 21, 2021Some people in El Salvador were also unhappy with the Bitcoin Law, with some protesting against Bitcoin adoption due to concerns over its unstable price. Some of the protests even resulted in destroyed Bitcoin ATMs.2. The United Arab Emirates: CZ’s new homeThe UAE emerged as one the most crypto-friendly countries in 2021 as authorities in its capital city of Dubai have been ramping up the efforts to enable the crypto industry’s development.In January, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) announced plans to establish a comprehensive crypto regulatory framework as part of its 2021 business plan. The DFSA subsequently issued several regulatory approvals, including one for a major Canadian investment product, The Bitcoin Fund, in October. DFSA has also been working on regulations for investment vehicles like security and derivative tokens.UAE regulators also came up with multiple arrangements to officially allow and support crypto trading in several free economic zones in Dubai. The nation has also been making strides in nonfungible tokens (NFT) adoption as its postal operator issued NFTs in November to commemorate the federation’s 50th National Day.In late 2021, the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority said it will become a comprehensive zone and regulator of cryptocurrencies, products, operators and exchanges.Related: Binance joins fresh crypto hub by Dubai World Trade CentreThe UAE is becoming an attractive destination for some of the world’s largest cryptocurrency companies and industry figures. In October, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao reportedly bought his first home in the “very pro-crypto” Dubai. The Chinese-Canadian business executive had previously claimed that he did not own any real estate as of April 2021. pic.twitter.com/QrgxaHKAp9— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) December 21, 20213. Canada: Crushing the global Bitcoin ETF raceCanada has earned a place on the list of 2021’s most crypto-friendly countries the moment its main securities regulator cleared the takeoff of the world’s first physically-settled Bitcoin ETF at the beginning of the year.Launched by Canadian investment firm Purpose Investments in mid-February, the Purpose Bitcoin ETF saw an explosive debut with $564 million in assets under management in just five days after starting trading.Canada continued leading the global Bitcoin ETF race as Fidelity Canada launched its Fidelity Advantage Bitcoin ETF and the eponymous mutual Bitcoin ETF fund in December. Canada’s Bitcoin ETFs aren’t just available for retail investors but also provide significant benefits for those who open government-registered investment accounts, such as the Tax-Free Savings Accounts.Related: Crypto poses no big risk to economy so far, Bank of Canada official saysOn top of crypto ETF dominance, Canada has been working to introduce more clarity to its crypto regulations in recent years, officially recognizing crypto firms as money service businesses in 2020. In late 2021, Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada issued registration for Binance’s local subsidiary, Binance Canada Capital Market. Canada is ranked the fourth largest country in terms of Bitcoin mining power, accounting for 9.6% of the total global hash rate, according to data from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.4. Singapore: Crypto is ‘investment in a prospective future,’ says regulatorSingapore continued to be one of the world’s biggest hubs for cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain enterprises in 2021 as the country’s regulators have done a great deal to nurture the industry.In November, Singapore welcomed two new institutional-grade Bitcoin funds launched by Fintonia Group, a company regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Previously, MAS officially allowed companies like the Australian crypto exchange Independent Reserve and DBS Bank’s brokerage arm, DBS Vickers, to provide digital payment token services in the country.DBS Bank, Singapore’s largest retail and commercial bank, is one of the largest local companies to make a foray into the crypto industry in the past year. The firm posted tenfold crypto volume growth in Q1 2021 after launching its crypto trading platform, DBS Digital Exchange, in late 2020.Related: Singapore to position itself as a global crypto center, says regulatorSome companies with close ties to the government of Singapore are reportedly big fans of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Robert Gutmann, CEO of New York Digital Investment Group, claimed in March that Singaporean government-backed holding company Temasek is a major Bitcoin investor.Singapore is also among the world’s top nations in terms of retail crypto adoption as 43% of Singaporeans own crypto, according to one survey.Despite local authorities welcoming the crypto industry development, a large number of crypto businesses have apparently failed to receive licenses to operate in Singapore in 2021.5. Gibraltar: New target for Huobi exchange after Chinese crackdownGibraltar, a British Overseas Territory and one of the smallest countries in the world, has been emerging as an attractive location for crypto in 2021.In November, Gibraltar welcomed Bullish, a new cryptocurrency exchange launched by the EOS.IO protocol developer, Block.one. The company’s local branch previously obtained a distributed ledger technology license from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC).In September, the GFSC also approved operations of Zubr Exchange Limited, a new local crypto exchange business launched by Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto giant FTX.The government of Gibraltar has been strengthening its ties with global blockchain and crypto industry players. In March, Gibraltar’s minister for digital and financial services, Albert Isola, became an ambassador for the Global Blockchain Business Council, a major industry association.Related: Gibraltar’s government plans to bridge the gap between public and private sectors with blockchainSome of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges entered Gibraltar in 2021 amid growing support from regulators.Following approval from the GFSC, crypto exchange Huobi has reportedly been moving its spot trading operations to its Gibraltar-based affiliate following China’s cryptocurrency crackdown. According to the firm, Chinese operations made up at least 30% of its total trading volumes and revenues before the ban.Crypto-friendly jurisdictions of 2021: Honorable mentionsEl Salvador, the UAE, Canada, Singapore and Gibraltar are, of course, not the only countries that served examples of benign crypto regulation in 2021.Among other increasingly crypto-friendly jurisdictions is Australia, which has been actively moving to adopt new crypto regulations and became a major location for crypto-related ETF listings this year.Liechtenstein, the world’s richest nation per capita, was the country with the most comprehensive cryptocurrency tax policy for the second year in a row in 2021, as per a PwC report. Australia and Malta ranked second, followed by Germany.

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Binance joins fresh crypto hub by Dubai World Trade Centre

The world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, Binance, is among the first crypto exchanges to join a new crypto hub established by the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA).Binance officially announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the DWTCA the next day after the latter had officially announced the launch of a comprehensive zone for crypto in Dubai on Monday.As part of its membership in the DWTCA’s initiative, Binance will help the authority outline the vision of “accelerating the set-up of a new industry hub for global virtual assets,” the company said in the announcement.Binance will also help advance Dubai’s commitment to establishing a new international digital asset ecosystem to enable long-term economic growth with digital innovation, the firm said, adding:“Binance believes that Dubai’s new agenda will contribute to the growth of the global economy. The goal is to assist crypto exchanges, businesses that offer blockchain and distributed ledger technology services, and a wide range of digital currencies and assets to become licensed in Dubai.”Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has recently grown interested in regulatory developments around crypto in Dubai. He was among the first people in the crypto community to report on DWTCA’s new crypto initiative on Monday. Zhao also reportedly bought his first home in Dubai in October.Dubai https://t.co/yzTbV76geb— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) December 21, 2021Binance’s cooperation with the DWTCA could be meaningful for the crypto exchange, as the company has been struggling to establish relationships with several global financial regulators that have scrutinized the exchange earlier this year.Related: Binance plans to become registered UK firm despite regulatory setbacksAs previously reported, Binance had to suspend some of its services amid dozens of global financial regulators issuing warnings against the crypto exchange. Some of the countries that flagged Binance’s operations include Germany, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Poland and others.

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Dubai World Trade Centre to create new crypto hub and become regulator

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to emerge as one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency-friendly jurisdictions as the government of Dubai has a new initiative to support local crypto development and regulation.The Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), a government-owned event and exhibition venue in Dubai, will become a comprehensive zone and regulator of cryptocurrencies, products, operators and exchanges, DWTC officially announced Dec. 20. As part of the initiative, the DWTC will design a comprehensive ecosystem for this progressive sector within Dubai and collaborate with the private sector to set up an “attractive environment for the sector.” The project also aims to enforce rigorous standards for investor protection, Anti-Money Laundering measures and combating the financing of terrorism, the DWTC stated.“The World Trade Center will deliver and oversee a new world-class regulatory framework of Virtual Asset legislative and enforcement policies,” the statement reads.Cointelegraph reached out to the DWTC and will update the story pending new information.Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao was among the first people in the crypto community to celebrate the new announcement from the DWTC. Zhao has apparently been growing interested in the crypto ecosystem in the UAE as he reportedly bought his first home in Dubai in October.» Dubai World Trade Centre to become comprehensive zone and regulator for virtual assets and Crypto https://t.co/Ndr6GDcJ4u— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) December 20, 2021Related: UAE regulators approve crypto trading in Dubai free zoneThe initiative comes in line with Dubai’s growing efforts to support the crypto development as both Dubai and the UAE have been actively working for the local economy to benefit from blockchain technology as well as nonfungible tokens and cryptocurrencies.In January, The Dubai Financial Services Authority was planning to set up a crypto regulatory framework as part of its 2021 business plan. The authority has issued a series of regulatory approvals for the crypto industry so far, while Dubai became a spot for several free economic zones for crypto.

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