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Spain Wants Blockchain Regulation but Political Unrest Could Turn Back Clock

The Spanish government’s 30 May draft legislation to implement blockchain within its borders may now have to allow for political change after PM Mariano Rajoy’s departure, writes Cointelegraph.

Before the ousting of Rajoy on 1 June, Spanish Congress rolled out its draft legislation for the regulation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the country, with a move directed at encouraging fintech start-ups in the country.

Rodrigo Garcia de la Cruz, president of the Spanish Fintech and Insurtech Association, credited the UK for the inspiration for the legislation after the successful launch of the fellow EU member’s own regulatory framework, writes the Econotimes. Garcia commented:

“It is an experience that is giving very positive results and that has led many countries to study its implementation. If we hurry up here in Spain, we could become a pole of attraction for financial innovation.”

Congress also see blockchain implementation creating a cost-efficient and decentralized means of payment and transaction, such as Barcelona’s planned specialized blockchain sector for that city.

Such progressive moves targeting the crypto space have now been overshadowed by the current political crisis in the country, after Rajoy’s replacement by Socialist chief Pedro Sanchez as a result of a no-confidence vote following corruption charges aimed at the ex PM’s center-right People’s Party.

Spanish news source La Vanguardia points out that the Sanchez-led no-confidence vote may delay the current pro-crypto legislation, which had been scheduled to go to a vote by 7 July after public consultation on 7 June. New elections could delay the project for more than six months, Vangardia suggests.

As CNBC notes, Rajoy’s departure and related events in Spain could extend beyond its borders and spark a political crisis in southern Europe, “further unnerving financial markets already wrongfooted by failed attempts to form a government in Italy three months after a national election”.

However, while collectively positive towards such blockchain legislation, the EU continues to be more guarded view towards cryptocurrencies. In May, it approved new anti-money laundering (AML) legislation, in part targeting anonymity in cryptocurrency market.


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Spanish Crypto Tax Probe Launched

Online Spanish news source El Confidencial has reported that 60 cryptocurrency companies have been contacted by the Spanish tax authorities and asked to surrender details regarding their clients.

Sixteen Spanish banks and around a dozen exchanges operating crypto ATMs have been contacted along with more than 40 businesses that accept online cryptocurrency payments, the source revealed. Identities of the companies’ clients have been asked for by the government agency, including further details such as bank and credit card details, and amounts along with exchange rates involved in transactions.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Maroy’s People’s Party has been preparing legislation, including possible tax breaks to attract companies using blockchain. Although it is in Spain’s interest to attract new companies to the new technology due to its importance and relevance in the financial ecosystem, concerns about ensuring user safety and fraud are never far away. Consequently, formal investigations and monitoring are to become significantly important in terms of driving the technology forward in a trustworthy business environment.

Spain’s government has tended to link the cryptocurrency industry to organized crime; one of the reasons for regulation, legislation, formal investigation and supervision. As cryptocurrencies have become more accepted in the country due to their growing popularity, distributed ledger technologies are increasingly being studied for potential use in industries, from banking to commodities. In the fintech area, blockchains increase the speed of transactions and enable instant cross-border settlement.

This recent action against 60 companies by the Spanish tax authority can be viewed as another move towards further protecting the industry against potential tax evasion and money laundering using cryptocurrency. The investigations are partly a follow up to recent moves by the country’s National Fraud Investigation Office to cut down on tax evasion of all kinds, particularly internet-based companies such as Airbnb Inc where clients can withhold income information.


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