Panama unveils bill to make Bitcoin legal tender

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Angela Lang/CNET

In what could be the beginning of a global trend, Panama is exploring a fast follow of El Salvador’s official embrace of Bitcoin. The day after El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, Panamanian Congressman Gabriel Silva introduced a bill designed to provide “legal, regulatory, and fiscal certainty to the use, holding and issuance of digital value and crypto assets in the Republic of Panama.”

The bill, entitled “Crypto Law: Making Panama Compatible with the digital economy, blockchain, crypto assets, and the internet,” was announced on Twitter by Silva on Wednesday. In his tweet, Silva said that the bill had the potential to create jobs, attract investment and foster greater government transparency.

Cryptocurrency advocates like Silva view BitcoinEthereum and Dogecoin as the future of money for the globe. The underlying blockchain technology allows these currencies to work by creating a digital ledger that records transactions, instead of relying on a central bank to underwrite — and crypto fans would say, manipulate — the value of the currency. 

The new Panamanian bill aims to promote the use of cryptocurrency and other digital assets, similar to legislation in its fellow Central American country El Salvador. But it also outlines an expansion of government use of blockchain technology for purposes of identity and transparency. The World Economic Forum (and other institutions) have explored the potential for blockchain technology to mitigate corruption. But deploying the technology in this way — and at a national scale — would be an unprecedented move with a dizzying array of implications. 

El Salvador’s national Bitcoin rollout has been bumpy. Should Panama pass its Crypto Law, it may provide another fascinating test case for cryptocurrency adoption at a national level. Two nations working to adopt crypto does not necessarily make a trend — but it could mark the start of one.

Read moreHere’s how much electricity it takes to mine Bitcoin and why people are worried

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