Morocco is seeing a huge surge in cryptocurrency use

In 2017, Morocco banned the use of cryptocurrencies. It didn’t work.

March 29, 2021

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In 2017, Morocco banned the use of cryptocurrencies.

News flash: it didn’t work.

New data from LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer crypto market, shows that trading in Morocco is up ~4x over the last 9 months.

What’s driving this?

For starters, only ~29% of adults in Morocco have a bank account.

One surprising reason for this is that many Moroccans don’t want their neighbors to know they have money.

In 2008, Morocco’s largest bank found that while people wanted savings accounts, they vehemently rejected the idea of mailed bank statements, fearing privacy issues.

While bitcoin transactions live on a public ledger that anyone can see, the blockchain offers complete anonymity.

How are Moroccans bypassing anti-crypto laws?

There are many ways for people to skirt these kinds of regulations:

  • Using peer-to-peer crypto marketplaces like LocalBitcoin, which allow users to buy BTC from other people online using cash.
  • Hopping the border (either physically or with a VPN) and buying in a country where it’s legal.
  • Some major crypto exchanges, like Binance, allow users to exchange Moroccan dirham to cryptocurrency, but not vice versa.

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