The Spanish Government releases new rulings identifying Bitcoin as an electronic payment system.
The governmental clarification came upon an inquiry from Spain-based Bitcoin startup Coinffeine. Back in April, Abanlex, the law firm representing Coinffeine, reached out to the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (El Ministerio de Hacienda y Administraciones Públicas) as well as Congress, to obtain a clear legal definition of Bitcoin.
Ministry of Finance's body the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego, or DGOJ), as well as the Spanish Congress, indicated in two separated responds to Abanlex that Bitcoin was considered as an electronic payment system, and noted that Spain-based Bitcoin gambling companies must apply for both a gambling license and a relevant individual license.
As Congress recognized Bitcoin as an electronic payment system, additional rules should apply to Bitcoin businesses, including the current law prohibiting cash payments to a business of more than €2,500, noted Abanlex, referring to the Article 7 of the Law 7/2012.
However, it is still unclear whether the treatment of Bitcoin as an electronic payment system for the gambling law is broadly applicable to other jurisdictions.
"The 'big-theme' news here is that Spain is starting to treat bitcoin more like a currency than as an asset, which is the inverse of what the US has done."
- Ximo Guanter
In May, Spain's tax authority the State Tax Administration Agency (Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria, or AEAT) made the first move towards Bitcoin regulation when stating it was "monitoring" digital currencies to ensure they weren't used for illicit purposes, reported the Spanish media outlet RTVE.es.
As reported by El Confidencial, the online gambling industry with bitcoins has become more and more popular, as the digital currency had been used to avoid Spain's Gambling Act. Therefore, the new ruling requesting Bitcoin gambling companies to comply with the gambling law should considerably impact the sector.
While Spain is progressively regulating the use of Bitcoin, the digital currency is making its way into the streets of Madrid with the #callebitcoin project (literally 'Bitcoin Street'), aiming to turn the shopping boulevard Serrano Street into the 'Spanish Bitcoin Boulevard.’
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