In brief

  • Dutch government advisor called for a “total ban on production, trading and even possession of cryptocurrencies.”
  • But the Dutch finance minister disagrees.

The Dutch finance minister, Wopke Hoekstra, said on Friday that banning cryptocurrencies wouldn’t solve anything after a top Dutch economic advisor argued for total prohibition.

In an op-ed in Het Financieele Dagblad Friday, Pieter Hasekamp, director of the government-affiliated Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, called for a “total ban on production, trading and even possession of cryptocurrencies” in the Netherlands.

“Cryptocurrencies demonstrate all the hallmarks of ‘bad money’: unclear origin, uncertain valuation, shady trading practices,” he argued. Their anonymity makes them useful for criminals, he argued, and they’re no good as money, failing as units of account, means of payment and stores of value.

Minister Hoekstra understood the concerns of Hasekamp about cryptocurrencies. But a total ban, the kind that Hasekamp proposed, would be less preferable to regulatory supervision, he told the Dutch channel RTL, reported its sister newspaper on Friday.

"My observation now is that that is more effective than a total ban in the Netherlands,” he said.

Perhaps in anticipation, Hasekamp wrote in his op-ed that “cautious regulation can also backfire: it legitimizes crypto as a bona fide financial product. Recent developments show that it is time to act: the longer we wait, the greater the negative consequences of the eventual crash.”

Hasekamp has no decision-making power in Dutch politics. His bureau is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and its director is appointed by the minister, but its research is independent and its advice isn’t binding.

Patrick van der Meijde, chairman of the Dutch crypto lobbying firm, Association of Bitcoin Companies, told Dutch newspaper NOS on Friday, “Bitcoin is open source, it's software that people can run. It's not an office you can invade.”

But the government could technically clear out offices that host crypto exchanges.