Regulators To Consider Bitcoin Stock Halt In Israel


We could soon see a bitcoin stock halt in Israel. Regulators there are considering a ban on trading in the stocks of companies based on cryptocurrencies in the country until legal regulation of transactions conducted in them is in place. The proposed trading halt would make Israel just the most recent in a growing list of countries that are cracking down on digital currencies such as bitcoin.

Regulators seek bitcoin stock halt in Israel

The Israel Securities Authority Chairman Shmuel Hauser told attendees at the Calcalist business conference that he plans to propose a bitcoin stock halt in Israel next week, reports CNBC. His proposal targets companies whose “main business is digital currencies.” If the ISA board approves the proposal, it would then be subject to a public hearing, and then an amendment to the bylaws of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange would be required.

If enacted, the bitcoin stock halt in Israel would resulted in a suspension of trading in the shares of cryptocurrency-focused firms that are already being traded on the stock exchange.  It would also bar such firms from listing their shares on the exchange. Hauser told CNBC that the ISA must determine the appropriate regulation for these firms.

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This isn’t the first indication that regulators in Israel would target cryptocurrencies. Earlier this month, Hauser announced that indexes would not include any companies whose business is bitcoin indexes.

Which companies would be affected by the bitcoin stock halt in Israel?

The ISA chairman didn’t specifically say which companies would be affected by the bitcoin stock halt in Israel. However, CNBC did identify two firms currently listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange which list cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology as being a crucial part of their business, which are Fantasy Network and Blockchain Mining.

In recent months, Blockchain Mining announced that it was shifting its focus from gold and iron mining to cryptocurrency mining, and as a result, its stock has skyrocketed by more than 5,000%. On Sunday, the firm changed its name, as it was previously named Natural Resources. In trading on Monday afternoon, Blockchain Mining stock was down by about 4%.

Fantasy Network announced earlier this month that it was considering a shift in focus to cryptocurrencies. It was previously in the gaming industry, and its stock quadrupled after the cryptocurrency announcement. However, Fantasy Network shares plummeted by 50% over the last two weeks after the company acknowledged the ISA’s exclusion of bitcoin companies from stock market indexes, saying that the restriction might have a negative impact on its shares.

Israel said to be considering national cryptocurrency

One of the concerns Hauser expressed to CNBC is that bitcoin prices “behave like bubbles,” so they don’t want “investors to be subject to that kind of volatility and uncertainty.” Bitcoin prices have skyrocketed in recent months, which has caused many companies in multiple countries to suddenly change their focus to cryptocurrencies. U.S. regulators have begun cracking down on some cryptocurrency-focused firms.

However, what makes the proposed bitcoin stock halt in Israel even more interesting is the report from The Jerusalem Post which states that Israel is considering developing its own national cryptocurrency. Citing a source close to the nation’s Finance Ministry, the news outlet states that Israeli regulators are considering a “digital shekel” to be registered with the government. Such a national cryptocurrency would reportedly make transactions in the black market more difficult.