Central Bank Issues Warning on Cryptocurrencies


21 February 2019, Apia Samoa. The Central Bank of Samoa (“Central Bank”) wishes to remind the public that any cryptocurrency promoters who wish to carry out promotion or presentations in Samoa must first seek the approval of the Central Bank.

This is in accordance with the recently passed amendments to the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2007.  Any promoter of virtual currency who contravenes this Act is subject to an imprisonment term or penalty fine, or both an imprisonment term and a fine.

The Central bank also wishes to remind the public that cryptocurrencies (i.e. virtual currencies or digital money such as bitcoin, Onecoin, ethereum, EOS, Lite Coin and others) are not currencies issued or regulated by the Central Bank.

They do not have any legal tender status to be accepted as a currency in Samoa. Investment in such digital currencies is considered very risky and speculative in nature.

People who invest in any of the cryptocurrencies do so at their own risk. There is no guarantee that cryptocurrencies will be accepted as a medium of exchange, or will hold their value. The Central Bank does not currently endorse unregulated cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Onecoin or any cryptocurrency that has been promoted in Samoa. Therefore, the Central bank does not encourage anyone to invest in any of them.

The Central Bank also wishes to inform that any person who wishes to promote Cryptocurrency or Digital currency is considered under the Money Laundering Prevention Amendment Act 2018 as a Financial Institution. This means it must have a valid business licence issued in Samoa and is required to follow the Central Bank’s reporting requirements for Financial Institutions.

The Central Bank has however acknowledged the potential use of blockchain and financial technology (FinTech), and is researching it as a platform for promoting financial inclusion in Samoa.