A number of cryptocurrency businesses are now based in the Belarus Hi-Tech Park after the government in Minsk legalized crypto-related activities for its residents. Registering an entity in the special economic zone was supposed to be a straightforward process, but clearer guidelines and detailed regulations are still needed to attract more investors.
Almost 400 HTP Residents
Less than eight months after President Lukashenko’s Decree №8 entered into force, the number of companies registered in the Belarus High Technologies Park (HTP) has increased to 388. Around half of them have become residents of the economic zone this year. The decree “On the Development of the Digital Economy” was signed by the Belarussian leader in December 2017. One of its main goals was to bring foreign high-tech businesses to the former Soviet republic.
Minsk also wanted to attract promising projects from the cryptocurrency space. The document legalized activities such as digital asset exchange, crowdfunding through initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency mining for entities that are registered in the HTP. Currently, most of the companies belong to traditional hi-tech sectors such as IT and software development. They work with customers in 67 other countries, often as outsourcing partners.
Crypto businesses form a small but diverse group. For example, Aetsoft is a blockchain development company which has provided services to ICOs and decentralized exchanges since 2014. It deals with clients in a number of markets, including the U.S., Germany and Denmark. Biggico is a joint startup established by Belarusian and Latvian entrepreneurs. Its international team has built an advertising platform for crypto projects.
Far East Technologies and Kbl Group are developing cryptocurrency mining facilities, and Pm Pool specializes in cloud-based mining services for customers in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic region. Smartpool is another company operating in the same field. Aiscom offers cryptocurrency payment solutions to exchanges, wallet providers and ICO projects. Omertex develops high-tech solutions for the fintech industry.
Still a Long Way to Go
Experts working in the sector note that there are currently no digital asset trading businesses among the residents of the Belarus High Technologies Park. A company founded by Belarusian immigrants in the U.S. recently launched what was advertised as “the first Belarusian cryptocurrency exchange.” The platform called Crexby is based in New York, not in Minsk.
There are several factors that explain the absence of such exchanges in Belarus. In an article recently published by Belmarket, Artem Handriko from the Revera law firm argued that the lack of legal practice in the field is one of them. In addition, the country’s central bank has demonstrated a lukewarm attitude towards cryptocurrencies and commercial banks are unwilling to engage in digital asset exchange transactions. More clarity regarding the applicable regulations is needed to increase the number of HTP residents.
Earlier this year, local media quoted financial experts and officials who expressed doubts that the country’s own crypto sector and ordinary Belarusians would be able to benefit from the presidential decree on the digital economy. They were concerned that its implementation, without the adoption of additional comprehensive regulations, would merely turn Belarus into a “crypto-offshore.”
What are your expectations about the future of the cryptocurrency industry in Belarus? Share your thoughts in the comments section.