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Malaysia's communications and finance ministers aren't on the same page about crypto – Protocol

It doesn’t seem like Malaysia’s communications and finance ministers talk much. Just a few days after the deputy minister of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry said crypto should be legal tender in the country, the deputy finance minister said it’s not going to happen.


“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are not suitable for use as a payment instrument due to various limitations,” Deputy Finance Minister I Mohd Shahar Abdullah said in parliament, citing volatility and crypto’s potential for cyber attacks. His boss, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, never liked the idea of crypto as legal tender either. “[It’s not a] good store of value and a medium of exchange,” he said earlier this month.

The Ministry of Finance crypto ice bath comes just days after Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the deputy minister of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry, told Malaysia’s parliament that crypto as legal tender would be good for the kids. “We hope the government can allow this,” he said on Monday. “We are trying to see how we can legalize this so that we can develop youth participation in crypto and assist them.”

None of this is to say the crypto for the kids (or adults, for that matter) dream is dead in Malaysia. The country is involved with Project Dunbar, which is testing the use of central bank digital currencies there and in a handful of other countries. “The growing technology and payment landscape have prompted the Bank Negara Malaysia to actively assess the potential of banks’ digital currency central or the central bank’s digital currency,” Mohd Shahar said.

Maybe Zahidi just wanted to put some public pressure on crypto plans, or maybe the Communications and Multimedia Ministry simply doesn’t, uh, communicate with the Ministry of Finance. The latter would be responsible for greenlighting and regulating any crypto plans in the first place, which Zahidi pointed out during his remarks earlier this week. It was unclear how Zahidi would even be involved in rolling out crypto plans, except for maybe, you know, talking to the public about it.

At least we know that Malaysia is not going to follow El Salvador in making crypto legal tender for the foreseeable future; instead, it appears to be following in the footsteps of other countries like Ukraine and the U.S. Given how El Salvador’s bitcoin experiment is turning out, not adopting crypto as legal tender for the youth may not be the worst choice.

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