Panama passes a bill to permit the use of crypto for commerce and taxpaying

    01 May 2022

    Panama’s National Assembly passed a bill to regulate the use and commercialization of crypto assets in the country. The bill will also make it possible for people to pay their taxes in crypto. Now, it only needs to be signed by President Laurentino Cortizo to become law.

    The bill, which was approved in the assembly with 38 votes in favor, two abstentions, and no votes against, opens the door to private and public use of crypto assets and will make it possible for people to pay their taxes with cryptocurrencies.

    Gabriel Silva, an independent lawmaker and promoter of the bill, told Reuters that the legislation is broader in scope than measures passed by El Salvador last year, which made Bitcoin legal tender.

    “We’re seeing the emergence of many different types of crypto assets like works of art. That’s why we didn’t want to limit ourselves only to cryptocurrencies,” he added.

    The bill covers the trading and use of crypto assets, issuance of digital securities, new payment systems, and the tokenization of precious metals.

    Under the new legislation, Panamanians may use crypto assets as means of payment for any civil or commercial operation not prohibited by law in the country.

    Now, the bill passes to President Laurentino Cortizo to be signed.

    Belisario Castillo Saenz, CEO of tokenization firm Feänor Corp, said that crypto assets could help the unbanked Panamanians, given the high internet penetration in the country, while only 25% of people have bank accounts.

    Meantime, Jose Fabrega of CryptoSPA, a hub for crypto and blockchain services, suggested the bill could also make banks that have created barriers to using crypto more cooperative.

    However, some experts warned that the move could heighten the reputation of the Central American country, renowned as a hub of offshore financial services, as a place lacking financial transparency.

    Panama is on the EU’s list of tax havens, and Romain Dromard, CEO at financial investment advisory firm K&B Family Office, said the crypto bill would not help it appear more transparent.

    “Panama was already in a bad position and these payment methods skip the due diligence processes that international organizations are asking Panama to embrace,” he said.

    Also, this week, Central African Republic has adopted Bitcoin as an official currency, becoming the first country in Africa and only the second in the world to do so. President Touadera also said the African nation is moving forward with broad crypto adoption plans.

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