In a decision that could have a huge impact on the bitcoin economy in Spain transactions using bitcoin will now be treated the same as other forms of electronic payments following a ruling by the agency that controls taxation and finance within the Spanish government.
A number of issues had been raised recently by an open-source bitcoin exchange in Spain called Coinffeine and this new ruling has come from El ministerio de hacienda y Administraciones Públicas to address these issues. The law firm working on behalf of the company, Abanlex requested the confirmation of two problems which it had spoken to Congress in the country and to El ministerio de hacienda about in the past.
Following its findings El ministerio de hacienda has ruled that an application for licenses are required from any companies that provide online gambling with bitcoins. A suggestion that laws already in place capping transactions that are €2,500 or higher should also be used for businesses involved in transactions using bitcoin was also mentioned in the ruling which had been backed up by a number of Congressional statements.
The one area that Congress had been asked to clarify by Coinfeinne was whether the bitcoin cryptocurrency was subject to particular financial laws. It also wanted El ministerio de hacienda to confirm whether, from a legal point of view, it was consider to be legally binding to use bitcoins for online betting.
The global regulation of the bitcoin could be altered in a major way following this recent ruling, moving the cryptocurrency away from just being an asset as it appears to be heading in the US and more towards being a real currency, according the Ximo Guanter, the co-founder and CTO of Coinffeine.
Back in May the Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria (AEAT) announced that digital currencies would be monitored to ensure they were not being used for illicit purposes and this new ruling is the latest update in the regulation of the bitcoin by the Spanish government.
There is currently no certainty as to whether this ruling will be applied more broadly in the future although for now the bitcoin will be treated like any other form of electronic payment when used for gambling.
It is also possible that current laws relating to anti-money laundering(AML) and the limiting of cash payments over €2,500 could also be upheld legally in court following statements made by Congress that companies making transactions using bitcoin may have to abide by further laws and restrictions if it is deemed that the bitcoin is indeed an electronic payment system.
Further clarification on how the bitcoin was viewed under Spanish law came from El ministerio de hacienda which advised that as the bitcoin only worked through exchanges and could only be converted into other virtual currency or other forms of legal tender it was considered to be neither electronic money nor legal tender.
With an increasing number of online gambling sites turning to the bitcoin to avoid the restrictions put in place by the US government on gambling online whilst other companies that are uncertain of the future of bitcoin have avoided it, this latest ruling by the Spanish government could be another turning point for the way that cryptocurrency like the bitcoin is viewed by the global market.