Crypto-asset regulation in Latin America

There is a growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies. Currently, 3.9% of the world’s population uses them and this means that about 300 million people use them for digital exchange.

This boom has opened the debate on its regulation and in Latin America, different positions coexist that range from total acceptance to its rejection and prohibition.

The only country in the region that has fully adopted it is El Salvador. Since September 2021, Bitcoin is recognized as legal tender in the Central American country. In contrast, Bolivia decided to ban the use and trading of cryptocurrencies.
Intermediate positions we see in the other Latin American countries.

  • Argentina: There are several legislative initiatives for the regulation of cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, the tax authority has adopted measures such as taxing transactions with digital currencies with credit and debit tax.
    On the other hand, the high inflation rates and exchange controls have motivated some technology companies, protected by the fact that the legislation allows paying up to 20% of the salary in kind, to pay part of the remuneration in cryptocurrencies.
  • Brazil: There are four projects of law to address its regulation under the premise of complying with the Money Laundering Law and the Consumer Protection Code. There is currently a bill that seeks to merge the four projects into one. This initiative seeks to make operations transparent and avoid money laundering.
  • Chile: The project under discussion establishes that the Central Bank of Chile will be responsible for regulating digital currencies. The law seeks to protect owners and financial intermediaries as well as people who interact in this digital market.
  • Colombia: The Financial Superintendency of Colombia opted for a regulatory sandbox, to experiment with this new financial model that is not yet regulated. On the other hand, since December 2021, transactions greater than 150 dollars in digital currency must be notified.
  • Costa Rica: There is no regulation of crypto-assets for now, but there is concern about having regulations to prevent money laundering.
  • Mexico: Projects have been presented for their regulation, but they remain dormant in the Senate. No law regulates them directly, but through the 2018 Fintech Law, there is a margin for these operations.
  • Panama: There is a project of law that establishes that crypto assets would be an alternative method for business operations in Panama. Another project recommends regulating bitcoin, ether, tether, and different types of tokens. Currently, there are discussions to combine both projects.
  • Peru: The Framework Law for the Commercialization of Crypto-assets is discussed in Congress. It proposes a public registry and the obligation to report suspicious operations to the Financial Intelligence Unit.
  • Uruguay: The Central Bank of Uruguay has been studying the issue for some time. This year it is expected to submit to the Executive Branch a project that regulates at least a part of the cryptocurrency market, emphasizing the commercial activities generated around this market.
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