Vincent van Betteghem: ‘Belgium Can’t Legalize Bitcoin’

Asked about the possibility of legalizing the best cryptocurrencies as in El Salvador, Minister Vincent van Bettieghem (CD&V) said that such a scenario was “highly unlikely”.

Why is this important?

El Salvador became the first country in the world to own bitcoin on September 7 Certified as a method of paymentNext to the US dollar. This monetary technical gamble is a practical answer to the challenge: to reduce the Salvadoran economy’s dependence on the United States and its omnipresent dollars. The best way to cut ties with foreign currencies is, of course, to issue your own. This is the challenge in dollar-dependent countries whose recent history has often been marked by political and/or economic instability.

The adoption of the “Bitcoin Law” last June and its recent promulgation in El Salvador aroused the curiosity of many observers, including our politicians. Federal Member of Parliament Emmanuel Burton (MR) put a written parliamentary question to Minister van Bettieghem to see if such legislation is possible in Belgium.

“Belgium cannot legalize bitcoin,” the finance minister said. It confirms that the euro is the official currency of the entire eurozone. “So such a decision should be taken at the European level, but it is highly unlikely that it will happen.”

‘big financial losses’

Although there may be good reasons to legalize Bitcoin, the minister is convinced that introducing BTC into the Belgian economy would be disastrous.

“Introducing bitcoin as legal tender would pose significant risks to the country’s monetary policy and financial stability,” said van Bettieghem, supporting the analysis of central banks and international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. “Fluctuations in the bitcoin exchange rate can lead to significant financial losses for consumers and businesses who will be forced to accept payments in bitcoin.”

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The minister emphasized that if BTC is accepted as a legal payment, taxes can also be paid in digital currency.

El Salvador as an example in the textbook

Admittedly, the experience with El Salvador is a biblical example. But according to the finance minister, the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) does not want to follow in that country’s footsteps.

“The National Bank does not own bitcoins and has not conducted a feasibility study on it. I remember the FSMA and the Belgian National Bank continuing to warn about the risks associated with virtual money, stressing that virtual currencies are neither legal tender nor a form of digital money.

There is no financial control or supervision of virtual money in Belgium. This makes them risky products in the eyes of the authorities.

The federal government introduced a new framework to oversee the crypto sector in June. It is not an insignificant step because the number of applications with encryption is rapidly increasing. But it does raise questions about the methodology of Belgian policymakers.

“At the national level, this certainly requires legislative changes, but it is also important to train our regulators in the specifics of these players and cryptocurrencies, which can take some time,” explained the partner at the Brussels-based law firm Ethikos. .

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