Cryptocurrencies, along with digital tokens and crypto-related assets, will be given an entirely different classification, according to a January 14 article in the online Malaysian newspaper The Star.
Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that Order 2019 would go into effect on Tuesday, January 15, and effectively classify cryptocurrency and assets connected to digital currency as securities. The framework for the new law will be developed by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
The framework will finalize "the relevant regulatory requirements for the issuance of ICOs and the trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in Malaysia," according to a January 14 article in Reuters. Once made law, the Securities Commission Malaysia will be responsible for the regulation of cryptocurrency and related assets.
Per The Star, anyone caught offering an unauthorized initial coin offering or operating an unlicensed crypto-exchange will face 10 years in jail and a 10 million ringgit fine.
Lim iterated Malaysia's stance on virtual currency:
"The Ministry of Finance (MOF) views digital assets, as well as its underlying blockchain technologies, as having the potential to bring about innovation in both old and new industries. In particular, we believe digital assets have a role to play as an alternative fundraising avenue for entrepreneurs and new businesses, and an alternate asset class for investors."
The road to crypto-regulation in Malaysia has been a long one. In September of 2017, ETHNews reported that the governor of Malaysia's central bank claimed he would issue guidance on the use and regulation of cryptocurrency in the country by the end of 2017. In November of that year, officials from the central bank of Malaysia claimed the country was in the middle of developing a framework to regulate virtual currency. However, just last week, the government of Malaysia was reportedly undecided about whether to legalize cryptocurrency use in the country.