Uruguayan Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Allow Crypto to be Used for Payments

CORRECTION (Aug. 4, 2021, 21:45 UTC): An earlier version of this article said Sartori’s bill would treat crypto as legal tender. The lawmaker later said it would only allow businesses to accept crypto as payments.

A senator from Uruguay has introduced a bill to allow businesses to accept cryptocurrencies as payments and regulate their use within the South American country.

The bill, which was presented on Tuesday by Sen. Juan Sartori, seeks to provide “legal, financial and fiscal security in the business derived from the production and commercialization” of cryptocurrencies.

“Crypto assets will be recognized and accepted by law and applicable in any legal business. They will be considered a valid means of payment, in addition to those included in the financial inclusion law, as long as they comply with the rules set forth in the law and the regulations,” the bill said.

Sartori’s bill would establish that cryptocurrencies “are products of free sale by those entities and individuals who wish to commercialize them,” and states that any natural or legal person “may receive and/or send funds in legal tender from and to their own bank accounts or those of licensed companies.”

However, the bill stops short of actually treating cryptocurrencies as legal tender, he told CoinDesk.

If the bill becomes law, the government would issue a “first license” that would enable companies to trade crypto assets on exchanges. A second license would allow “storing, holding or safekeeping crypto assets,” while a third would be used to issue crypto assets or utility tokens with “financial characteristics.”

According to the bill, Uruguay’s executive branch would grant the licenses to entities that are in compliance with anti-money laundering secretariat (Senaclaft) and the Central Bank of Uruguay. For other transactions, the “use of all these instruments will be free and will not require prior consent, permits or licenses.”

Sartori’s bill also stipulates the regulation of crypto mining. Miners wouldn’t need a special license like a doctor, but would need permits from Uruguay’s Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining in order to operate.

The measure also includes the “promotion of technical training for electrical, civil and computer engineers in the generation of virtual assets.”

According to the bill, Senaclaft “will keep a registry of virtual asset service providers” and of those individuals or legal entities that wish to carry out activities of generation and commercialization of virtual assets.

Sartori belongs to the ruling National Party. He ran for the National Party’s nomination for president in 2019.

In the Senate, the National Party and its allies, which form a coalition named Coalición Multicolor, hold the majority, with 17 of the 30 seats.

To date only one country has adopted bitcoin as legal tender: El Salvador, which approved a bill earlier this year.