Last updated on March 17th, 2015 at 05:31 pm
Croatia might be very distant from China in two different ways: it’s not only a matter of miles, but also a matter of opinion when it comes to Bitcoin. After discovering that two places in the country already accepted cryptocurrency, the Croatian National Bank (CNB) debated Bitcoin for the first time and concluded that the use and trading of this digital coin in Croatia is legal.
After the announcement, the world’s most famous virtual coin got massive media coverage in the country. However, although Croatia’s decision is positive, it still doesn’t add much to the liberal stand proclaimed by the document on virtual currency that was published by the European Central Bank over a year ago.
According to the CNB, quoted by the Poslovni Dnevnik, Bitcoin is not illegal in Croatia and it’s not to be considered electronic money, although it shares some similarities with it. Of course, cryptocurrency can’t be considered legal tender in Croatia – that spot is reserved to the Croatian kunas (HRK) -, but can be legally used in the country.
Like the European Central Bank, the Croatian bank also states that the use of Bitcoin doesn’t violate any provision of the European Union.
So far, there are no concrete guidelines regarding Bitcoin, so the virtual coin will be defined as a “virtual currency scheme”, such as Linden dollars or World of Warcraft gold. However, the CNB noted that regulation will probably fall under the jurisdiction of central banks in a near future.
Switzerland wants to change the game
In the meantime, maybe inspired by their European “neighbours”, 45 members of the Swiss parliament signed a postulate asking for Bitcoin to be legally treated as a foreign currency, like the Euro or the Dollar. The information was revealed by Luzius Meisser, the president of the Bitcoin Association Switzerland, the local chapter of the Bitcoin Foundation, on the BitcoinTalk.org forum.
The postulate demands to evaluate the opportunities of Bitcoin for the Swiss finance sector. It also states that Bitcoins raises a number legal questions and that the simplest way to answer them would be to clarify that Bitcoins should be treated like other foreign currencies.
The goal is to clarify in a simple and straightforward way how various laws such as the GWG (money laundering act), the MWSt (VAT act) or the KAG (securities act) are to be applied to Bitcoin. This not only paves the way for Bitcoin businesses and financial services in Switzerland, it is also a great precedent for other countries that look into how Bitcoin should be handled from a regulatory perspective.
The action was headed by the green-liberal Thomas Weibel, with the help of other 44 co-sponsors, and submitted at the end of last week. The association’s representative claims that the next formal step is for the Swiss parliament to have a vote on the postulate, which can take several weeks.
“If it passes – which is very likely as about 25 percent of the parliament already co-signed it -, the Federal Council will answer the questions, which again can take many months”, Meisser added. Later on, if the Federal Council agrees, “it would again take a while to adjust the relevant regulations”.
So, regardless the Swiss Parliament’s opinion on this matter, it will still take several months until a new classification of Bitcoin becomes effective. Nevertheless, this action “sends a nice signal of how regulatory bodies should treat Bitcoin when the law is unspecific”.