This week, Costa Rican Congresswoman Johana Obando introduced a bill to allow bitcoin and other crypto-currencies to be used as a means of payment. The bill also proposes that traditional banking institutions can serve as crypto-currency exchanges, including custody and wallet services for their customers.
Costa Rica to regulate crypto-currencies
Costa Rica could be on its way to integrating bitcoin into its economy. This week, Congresswoman Johana Obando introduced a bill to approve bitcoin and crypto-currencies as a regulated method of payment in the country in an effort to modernize the economy.
The bill, number 23.415, also includes the definition of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies as virtual private currency and protects the rights of citizens to own such assets. One of the goals of this bill is to provide clarity and protection for people and companies investing in crypto assets and thereby attract more investment in this area.
Johana Obando clarified that the bill does not require anyone to accept bitcoins as payment for debts or products, it simply establishes the ability to do so if both parties in a transaction agree to use it. This is different from what countries like El Salvador have done, which have adopted bitcoin as a legal currency.
In an interview with local television, Obando said:
The market for crypto-currency assets is very new. This bill wants to propose Costa Rica as an investment center for people and companies related to crypto-currencies so that they see Costa Rica as a growth niche.
Crypto and banking
The proposed bill also aims to integrate the banking system with the crypto-currency economy. Johana Obando mentions that another of the goals of the bill is to “Ensure banking interoperability of crypto-currencies through public and private banks in the national territory“, alluding to the possible roles of banks as custody providers and wallet operators, as well as crypto-currency exchanges.
This could be aimed at increasing the level of financial inclusion in the country. Costa Rica has improved its financial inclusion figures over the past five years. almost 82% of citizens over 18 years old with access to a bank account. If the bill is approved and sanctioned, these levels could ostensibly increase.