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Panamanian MP: Our Draft Crypto Law Is Different from El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read


The MP architect of a draft Panamanian private member’s bill that proposes allowing the use of crypto as a form of payment has claimed that there are key differences between his proposed law and the Bitcoin Law adopted in El Salvador last year.

The Salvadoran law gave bitcoin (BTC) legal tender status alongside the fiat USD, but stipulates that merchants may not reject a BTC payment if a customer requests to pay in the cryptoasset. It also promoted the use of its own state-run BTC wallet and app.

Per Radio Panama, Gabriel Silva, the 32-year-old independent Panamanian congressman who created the bill, the above would not apply if his bill became law, and the door would be open for other tokens, not only BTC.

The bill, named “Crypto Law: Making Panama compatible with the digital economy, blockchain, cryptoassets, and the internet,” will be debated again in parliament in the coming weeks following a successful first reading, and Silva has stated that the bill, if adopted, would bring to Panama “legal, regulatory, and fiscal certainty to the use, holding and issuance of digital value and cryptoassets.”

As reported, private-sector and banking industry support has been on the rise for the measure this year.

Silva added that crypto usage would “be optional” under the terms of his bill, with merchants free to reject payments in crypto.

He was quoted as stating:

“Here in Panama, we are making this optional. That means that if I have cryptocurrency in Panama and I want to pay with it and [a vendor] does not want to accept it, the [vendor] is not obliged to accept it. In addition, the El Salvador law speaks only of bitcoin. However, the plan approved in the first debate establishes the possibility of using any cryptocurrency. We cannot and do not want to close the door to the use of more than one [type of ] cryptocurrency.”

Silva added that this was harmonious with the spirit of Panamanian constitutional law.

“The constitution prohibits the compulsory use of only one currency. In Panama, you can use different currencies. Establishing rules that restricted citizens to a single currency would be unconstitutional. We were not only talking about bitcoin, we were talking about a number of cryptocurrencies,” he said.

Silva has previously claimed that his bill will spark job creation, attract investors, and promote governmental transparency, with business leaders who support the measure stating that Panama now “lags behind” other countries “in terms of the implementation of cryptocurrencies, in their use and in the economy.”
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