Panama’s Digital Assets Bill on Hold as President Has Reservations

Lawmakers in Panama and the broader digital currency ecosystem have been awaiting the signing into law of the digital assets bill as passed by the legislature in April this year. The delay, however, is from the President, Laurentino Cortizo who said he will not be giving his assent based on the clause in the bill as it currently stands.

“If I’m going to answer you right now, at this moment, the information that I have — which is not enough — I will not sign that law at this moment,” Cortizo said on stage at the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Latin America conference on May 18. 

Signing the bill into law is going to serve as a milestone for the country, regarded in part as a financial haven for many startups. While the crypto ecosystem in Panama is fast developing as it is in several countries, President Laurentino said caution has to be exercised so as to remove any money laundering clause that may be favored by the bill as it is.

“I have to be very careful if the law has clauses related to money-laundering activities, or anti-money laundering activities,” he told the audience. “That’s very important for us.”

For President Laurentino, there is a very salient need to pass a unifying regulation as it concerns digital currencies on a global stage.

“It is an innovative law from what I have heard — it’s a good law,” he said. “However, we do have here in Panama a solid financial system, and one of the things that I’m waiting [for] is when you have a global regulation of crypto asset[s], and it is important that we need a global regulation of crypto asset[s].”

Latin America Warming up to Crypto

The consideration of comprehensive and functional digital currency regulation is a new trend sweeping across the length and breadth of Central and South America. 

El Salvador has made Bitcoin a legal tender and has chosen to grant citizenship status to BTC investors looking to do business in the country. 

Crypto exchanges have also identified the Latin American world as a massive growth offshoot and are floating products that will advance their reach in the region. Platforms like Coinbase are looking at making targeted acquisitions featuring 2TM Group, the parent company of Mercado Bitcoin exchange.