On October 26, the Commerce and Economic Affairs Committee created a subcommittee to unify bill 696, presented by Cenobia Vargas (PRD – officialism), and bill 697, presented by Gabriel Silva (independent), which seek to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment and make Panama compatible with the digital economy and the blockchain. According to the legislative body, the subcommittee would have 10 working days, with an extension of another 10, from the date of its meeting, to present a preliminary report to the rest of the legislators.
The sub-committee that will analyze and unify the bills will be composed of Alejandro Castillero (PRD – ruling party), who will chair it, Raúl Pineda (PRD – ruling party) and Francisco Alemán (Molirena – allied to the ruling party). The President of the Committee, Roberto Ábrego (PRD – ruling party), after notifying the creation of this instance indicated that the regulation of cryptocurrencies is “a new and necessary issue and that Panama cannot be on the margin of this reality. The important thing is to have consensus with the contribution of the social economic sectors that may participate”.
The deputies proposing the bills also participated in the committee. Cenobia Vargas, proponent of bill 696, expressed the need to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies in Panama so that the population has the option of using them as payment methods, and to be at the forefront in Latin America, following the example of the Bitcoin Law in El Salvador. In that sense, she stated that the Banking Association, which positioned itself against the initiative, should not feel threatened by an eventual replacement or incompatibility in the means of payment. At the same time, she indicated that in Panama there are monopolies and that it is necessary to guarantee the right to choose how to make payments. Thus, she said that “we should not be subject to Visa cards, but we can use different currencies to make payments”.
Regarding banks, the deputy also said that banks can connect with cryptocurrencies, for example through traceability in payments. Also, she stated that using a digital wallet is a security mechanism to guarantee the commercial flow through that technology.
On the other hand, Walkiria Chandler (independent), alternate deputy for the proponent of bill 697, Gabriel Silva (independent), said that the approval of this bill would represent a democratization of the financial tool, and that it does not affect banks as it does not compete with them. Likewise, he expressed that the regulation of cryptocurrencies would improve Panama’s international image in terms of money laundering and currency flight, especially to avoid being included in the lists of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to overcome the qualification of tax haven.