As the SEC cracks down on companies offering unlicensed securities in the form of cryptocurrencies, confusion has surfaced around the legality of using digital currencies as a form of payment. In this post, we’ll explore countries where the use of cryptocurrencies for payments is legal or accepted, and why.
Whether you’re a business owner interested in accepting crypto payments or simply curious about the current state of crypto legislation globally, this post is a must-read.
Countries where crypto is legal tender
Bitcoin is the de-facto leading token in the world of crypto, be it in adoption or market capitalization. Hence, it comes as no surprise that some countries have in fact declared Bitcoin legal tender.
El Salvador has grabbed the world’s attention in 2021, as it became the first country to legalize Bitcoin as a form of tender. President Bukele proposed and passed the bill in the congress, making it mandatory for all businesses in the country to accept Bitcoin. The government has also launched an exclusive app named “Chivo Wallet”, allowing citizens to redeem an initial $30 subsidy in Bitcoin and offered large discounts on gasoline purchases paid with Bitcoin.
However, despite these efforts, the adoption rate has been mixed, as several surveys conducted in the country show varied results. The population’s propensity for cash seems challenging to overcome, posing a hurdle to widespread Bitcoin usage.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic became the second country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in 2022, with lawmakers voting unanimously to pass the bill to legalize the use of the cryptocurrency alongside their Fiat currency – CFA Franc. However, beyond the flashy headlines, adoption for bitcoin by the masses has been hamstrung by the lack of reliable internet and electricity amongst the populace.
Reasons for adoption
Cryptocurrencies hold immense potential to revolutionize the financial landscape of developing nations, such as El Salvador and Central African Republic. These countries often suffer from weak currencies, high inflation rates, and a significant unbanked population. By embracing digital-first payment platforms that utilize crypto as their base transaction layer, they can quickly overcome these challenges and modernize their financial systems.
However, the volatile nature of Bitcoin prices has raised concerns among observers. To ensure the stability of their citizens’ spending power, it might be worth exploring Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) or stablecoins linked to more stable global currencies like the USD or EURO.
Countries where crypto payments are prevalent
While some countries have taken the controversial step to embed bitcoin into their financial systems, some have adopted a more laissez-faire approach, allowing their citizens and economic forces to decide if crypto payments are worthy of adoption.
Argentina holds one of the highest adoption rates for cryptocurrency in the world. A walk down the boulevards of Buenos Aires will yield several retail stores adorning “pay with crypto” signs. In fact, the major of Buenos Aires even held a snazzy presentation on a 12-step development plan titled “Buenos Aires +” which envisions a future with significant crypto and blockchain adoption across the famous city. In Mendoza, citizens can even utilise stablecoins such as Tether to pay for tax!
Mexico, a highly populous country in Central America, has demonstrated an impressive adoption rate of cryptocurrencies. In fact, in May 2022, Tether, a renowned stablecoin company, added MXNT token to their impressive stablecoin collection, providing on-chain representation of the Mexican Peso.
The increasing popularity of crypto payments is largely attributed to the robust growth in remittance flows in Mexico. Faced with high remittance fees, Mexicans abroad have turned to the use of cryptocurrencies to skip high fees and long waiting time commonly associated with traditional financial firms.
Brazil has made considerable progress in adopting crypto. The Chamber of Deputies has passed a new regulatory framework that gives legal status to cryptocurrencies for use in payment for goods and services. Although not yet legal tender, this is a significant move towards promoting the widespread use of crypto in the country. Even Senator Iraja Abreu thinks that cryptocurrencies will soon be commonly used in places such as supermarkets, commerce, and car dealerships.
Countries generally seen as more pro-crypto
Hong Kong’s regulators are now perceived as “pro-crypto” due to their new fintech policy statements that align with their vision of developing Hong Kong into an “international virtual assets centre”. In a proactive move, regulators will provide a list of approved crypto tokens for retail trading and apply similar laws to crypto exchanges as those governing traditional financial institutions. With this proactive stance, it’s possible to envision crypto payments gaining momentum in Hong Kong.
Dubai is a favored destination for crypto companies looking to relocate from Singapore and the US, which have implemented increasingly stricter regulations. In Feb 2023, their regulatory authority issued a set of requirements for licensing of crypto companies that wishes to operate within Dubai. This ties in well with the Emirate’s ambition to be a top metaverse hub creating 40,000 virtual jobs in the process.
The Crypto Conundrum
As the world becomes increasingly digital, so do our methods of payment. The rise of crypto has been met with both excitement and skepticism, as countries grapple with the implications of this revolutionary technology. While some nations have wholeheartedly embraced crypto as a legitimate payment method, others remain wary and cautious.
As businesses and individuals alike embrace the potential of crypto, we can expect the global crypto landscape to continue to expand. More countries may soon join the ranks of those who have already adopted cryptocurrencies as a legal payment method.
As we look to the future, it’s clear that the world of crypto is rapidly changing. It’s an exciting time for those who are interested in this technology, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.