The wide commotion that has been unleashed in the international community with the Bitcoin Law of El Salvador has spread to Panama. That is what Janice Becerra and Rodrigo Icaza, both members of the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain (CCDB) of the Central American country say.
Such is the interest in regulating bitcoin (BTC) that in the Assembly of Panama there are already four proposed laws. Two of them were presented at the initiative of civil society, while the others were drafted by two deputies.
Becerra and Icaza spoke exclusively with CryptoNews and you can watch the video by clicking on the featured image or on the Youtube channel of CryptoNews
. At that time both highlighted the need for the country to regulate cryptocurrencies. In this regard, they highlighted the fact that the nation is trying to leave behind its reputation as a tax haven.
They believe that regulation is key for the industry to grow fully, “without hindrances that could constrain its sustainable development,” as Becerra pointed out.
She adds that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are part of the new technologies, because they are part of the “digital world that should not be resisted, but accepted and evolved with it.
The lawyer is the founder of the CCDB, a non-profit organization that for 7 years has been concerned with education, the organization of activities and programs that encourage the adoption of the blockchain ecosystem.
Her work, from the CCDB and also as an advisor to the senior office of the Government Innovation Authority of Panama, focuses on the educational aspect, because she considers that to be a primary task. “Only by knowing the technical aspects of what is going to be regulated will it be possible to provide a clear legal framework on the new trends,” she added.
What has happened with the Bitcoin Law in El Salvador is a good thing because it has awakened the interest of many people and is helping, at the government level, to accept that this technology is here to stay and therefore public policies must be established. So, in effect, I can say that in Panama there is indeed the interest of the State to implement these policies and in fact some technical coordination is being done with some international institutions to seek the feasibility of making a regulation adapted to our country.
Janice Becerra, member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain of Panama. For Janice Becerra education is vital to be able to regulate the bitcoin industry, without restricting its growth. Source: Instagram/ccdblock Capture.
Four bills to regulate bitcoin in Panama
The lawyer, along with communicator Rodrigo Icaza, offered details of the four proposed laws that are currently in the National Assembly of Panama awaiting the first day of the first session of the
e three mandatory discussions.
One of these proposals is the 047 which is the initiative of Joseph Isaza, representing civil society, which basically recognizes cryptocurrencies as legal tender. And mind you, it says ‘cryptocurrencies’ and not bitcoin, including Dogecoin and Ethereum.
Janice Becerra, member of Panama’s Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain.
Isaza’s proposal also proposes that the state promote alternatives so that people can make fiat exchanges when making or receiving payments. Similarly, that economic agents accept cryptocurrencies, in general, as a method of payment, Becerra said.
“Of course this involves many issues, because each cryptocurrency has a specific use and we cannot take them all as a viable means of payment,” the lawyer added.
In this regard Icaza added that part of the Panamanian community disapproves of initiative 047, especially because it mentions other cryptocurrencies, such as Dogecoin
. As it is known, the crypto-asset born from a meme, has not had a stable team for the development of its technology and is often used in highly speculative markets.
Part of the Panamanian population is inclined to only regulate bitcoin as legal tender, as happened in El Salvador. That’s why, when mentioning the cryptocurrency in the meme, the document was considered to be a joke.
Rodrigo Icaza, executive director of the Blockchain Digital Chamber of Commerce.
According to Icaza, the community subsequently reacted favorably to another proposal presented by the same Joseph Isaza, which only proposes to regulate Bitcoin mining
This proposed law to regulate bitcoin mining states that the state should encourage companies to come to Panama and establish themselves in the mining industry. The idea put forward is to create a new economic sector in the country and that is why tax incentives are contemplated to attract these foreign companies.
Rodrigo Icaza, member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain. Rodrigo Icaza believes that the public should raise their views regarding all the proposed laws that exist to regulate cryptocurrencies. Source: Instagram/rodrigoeicazag.
Another draft bill to regulate cryptocurrencies was presented, on August 17, by Congresswoman Cenobia Vargas before Panama’s Assembly. “The problem with this proposal is that it adapts bitcoin technology to the traditional financial system, but without adapting the traditional system to the technology,” commented I
For his part, Becerra adds that Vargas’ proposal focuses on taxes and, in that sense, proposes the issuance of a license to operators of cryptocurrency services, with a single rate of USD 10,000. The document also sets a 3% in amounts to be charged for each transfer from exchanges to wallets. Then these collected funds would be divided between the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI), the Ministry of Environment and the Social Security Fund.
In one of his articles, Vargas’ proposal proposes the establishment of a new commercial category that he calls “blockchain technology businesses”, without considering that the use cases of these networks are quite broad and not all of them involve cryptocurrencies.
The section that this proposal dedicates to mining aims to charge 15% if [farms’] profits are less than USD 50,000 and 25% for those with revenues over USD 50,000. So I see that in effect with this proposal you could use cryptocurrencies optionally to the dollar, but it also stresses the issue of taxes. I believe that this should not be the strategy to regulate cryptocurrencies in Panama.
Janice Becerra, member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain of Panama.
Recently, Congressman Gabriel Silva, introduced the fourth draft bill for the regulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in that country. As a first point, the document seeks legal certainty and security for cryptocurrencies in Panama.
From Silva’s perspective, by passing the law regulating cryptoassets, financial inclusion would be encouraged. “Panama has only 46.5% of its population with transactional bank accounts. This is below the regional average of 54.4% and well below the global average of 68%,” as reported by CriptoNoticias.
Regarding the various proposals to regulate cryptocurrencies that were presented to the Panamanian Assembly, Rodrigo Icaza thinks that, while the debates take place, members of the ecosystem should go to parliament to make their own proposals.
It seems to me that a consensus should emerge among the proposals that have been presented, that there should not be separate approaches, but that there should be a union among all of them. Therefore, I think the road to regulate cryptocurrencies in Panama is still quite long.
Rodrigo Icaza, member of the Digital and Blockchain Chamber of Panama.
Meanwhile, Becerra and Icaza assure that the CCDB will continue to play its role of keeping up to date on all these proposals before the Assembly, with the idea of informing the community about everything that is happening in regulatory matters.
In a way, we seek to be a mediator in order to make the necessary approximations. Above all, our recommendations are focused on understanding that public policies cannot be taken lightly and that feedback from the community itself, which is the one that knows the issue, should be considered.
Janice Becerra, member of the Chamber of Commerce Di
gital and Blockchain of Panama.
The CCDB will continue its task of informing the Panamanian population about new technologies. Source: Instagram/ccdblock.
Regulating Bitcoin beyond blacklists
In 2016, France blacklisted Panama as a tax haven following the Panama Papers
scandal. More recently, the country was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, while the European Union (EU) also classifies it as a tax haven.
But what could be the implications of bitcoin regulation in a territory classified, by international bodies, for tax fraud? In this regard, Janice Becerra points out several concerns, one of which is that local banking has lost its international correspondents. This has limited international transactions, which in turn hurts trade and therefore has negatively impacted the local financial system.
In addition, the inclusion of Panama in the blacklists, has influenced the establishment of very strict regulations for items that are not even financial. For example, lawyers are now like prosecutors, accountants or police and so on, because the regulation we have makes us responsible that our clients do not launder money.
Janice Becerra, member of the Panama Chamber of Digital Commerce and Blockchain.
Janice even laments that in Panama there is always a permanent presumption of guilt on everyone. To such an extent that Panamanians don’t have open doors when it comes to doing business, until they prove that you’re not covering up any crime or you’re into money laundering.
“That’s why I think that all this KYC (Know Your Customer) methods are bureaucratizing all services and ultimately reduces the competitiveness of countries,” says Becerra.
The lawyer adds that it is essential for Panama to get off the black lists that classify it as a tax haven. Even more so now when there is so much interest in the regulation of cryptocurrencies.
In that sense, she thinks that as long as there is no regulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which contemplates all the risks related to money laundering and terrorist financing, the possibility of never leaving or falling into blacklists will remain latent.