Cryptocurrency Regulation in Ecuador Prior to 2024

The Emergence of Cryptocurrencies

Despite the ban on cryptocurrencies in 2014, Ecuador witnessed continued interest and traction in the cryptocurrency sector. The government’s prohibition, citing the instability of cryptocurrencies and their potential for illicit activities, did not deter the growing attention toward these digital assets. The ban, however, did not make the use of cryptocurrencies explicitly illegal. The government’s stance was clear in not recognizing cryptocurrencies as a legal method of payment, and those using them for transactions faced undefined penalties. To monitor and control cryptocurrency activities, the government established a specialized unit, indicating a cautious yet acknowledging approach toward this emerging financial sector​​​​.

Regulatory Landscape

As of 2023, Ecuador lacked a specific regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. The government expressed intentions to develop one, suggesting a future shift towards regulation. Until then, cryptocurrencies were not recognized as legal tender, and their use was discouraged. This included popular cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Tether, Cardano, USDT, XRP, and Monero. The absence of specific laws resulted in a gray area for cryptocurrency trading in Ecuador. While trading was not explicitly illegal, it was not recognized or regulated by the government, leading to risks for those engaging in such activities. Some Ecuadorians embraced cryptocurrency trading as a means to circumvent economic instability and capital controls, reflecting the growing popularity of these digital assets despite the lack of regulatory clarity​​​​.

Gambling and Financial Code

Online gambling, including cryptocurrency gambling, was also not regulated in Ecuador. Similar to cryptocurrency trading, this meant that it was not expressly illegal but also not protected or regulated by the government. Participants in cryptocurrency gambling engaged at their own risk, underscoring the broader unregulated status of cryptocurrencies in the country. The primary law governing financial transactions in Ecuador, the Monetary and Financial Code, did not explicitly address cryptocurrencies. Instead, the law focused on the national electronic money system, a government-controlled digital currency system, indicating a preference for state-controlled digital financial solutions​​​​.


In conclusion, prior to 2024, Ecuador’s legislative landscape for cryptocurrencies was marked by a lack of specific regulation, an initial outright ban, and a growing underground interest in digital currencies. The government’s cautious stance, coupled with the absence of a definitive legal framework, created an ambiguous environment for cryptocurrency usage and trading. This situation reflected the complexities and challenges faced by many countries worldwide in adapting to and regulating the rapidly evolving domain of digital currencies. As the global cryptocurrency sector continued to expand and mature, the potential for regulatory developments in Ecuador remained a subject of interest and speculation.

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