Israel Regulator Threatens to Ban Bitcoin Firms from Stock Exchange

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The chairman of Israel’s capital markets authority will propose a regulation to ban companies based on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin from trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Speaking at a business conference today, Israel Securities Authority (ISA) chairman Shmuel Hauser said he will bring to the authority’s board a regulatory proposal to enforce a sweeping ban on digital currency firms from trading on Israel’s only public exchange. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), incidentally, is under the ISA’s direct supervision.

In public statements reported by Reuters, Hauser said today:

If we have a company that their main business is digital currencies, we would not allow it. If already listed, its trading will be suspended.

Earlier this month, Hauser likened retail investors’ interest in bitcoin to the 19th century gold rush. “Bitcoin looks like a bubble, smells like a bubble, behaves like a bubble and feels like a bubble…” Hauser said at the time. The regulator also called for a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies despite ruling out the inclusion of bitcoin firms from TASE indexes.

Hauser doubled down on his stance with today’s remarks, claiming that the prohibitory stance against bitcoin companies was to effectively discourage retail investors from adopting the decentralized cryptocurrency.

He stated:

We feel that the prices of bitcoin behave like bubbles and we don’t want investors to be subject to that volatility and uncertainty. There is an importance to signal to the market where things are…Investors should know where we stand.

After 6 years as ISA’s chief, the push to ban bitcoin companies from the country’s stock exchange is likely to be Hauser’s last regulatory proposal to the board. “But once it’s on its way, it will continue to be pursued,” insisted Hauser, who steps down next month.

The ISA chief is expected to put forth the proposal to the ISA board next week. If it is approved, the proposal will be subject to a public hearing before TASE laws are amended to legislate the ban on bitcoin companies.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange image from Shutterstock.

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