El Salvador's Finance Minister says Bitcoin use would be 'completely optional'

El Salvador's finance minister, Alejandro Zelaya, said Tuesday that using bitcoin and a digital wallet will be "completely voluntary," and that companies who refuse to accept the cryptocurrency would not be sanctioned.

In a televised interview with journalist Moisés Urbina on the show Frente a Frente, Zelaya said that the dollar would remain the country's primary currency of reference, and that companies, the government, and everyone else will use it for accounting.

Article 7 of the bitcoin legislation, which was enacted in June, said that bitcoin must be accepted as a method of payment by "any economic actor." Zelaya's remarks contradicted this.

When questioned whether it was essential to remove that item, Zelaya inquired why and did not elaborate.

In a consultation document containing technical requirements to assist the implementation of the bitcoin legislation, El Salvador's Central Bank did not clarify things on Tuesday. Banks, cooperative banks, and savings and credit societies "interested" in offering the service of convertibility of dollars and bitcoin and vice versa will be required to comply with these requirements, according to the draft.

The Central Bank of El Salvador specifies that wallets must apply know-your-customer rules in another document titled Guidelines for the Authorization of the Operation of the Digital Wallet Platform for Bitcoin and Dollars.

“Clients of the digital wallet may be individuals and legal entities resident or not in the country that comply with the requirements and standards of know your customer and prevention of money and asset laundering, financing of terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” according to the document.

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