Despite the amount of traction it’s received in recent months, the legal status of Bitcoin has been murky at best.
Most governments are unsure how to approach the digital currency, and most have ruled out using it in the near future.
Wanting to see how different countries approached Bitcoin from a legal standpoint, the US Law Library of Congress put together a report looking at 40 countries (and the EU) where Bitcoin has been used and their stance towards it. The countries include:
Alderney, Argentina, Australia Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The main finding was Bitcoin has a long way to go before it’s recognised legally by most countries. Only a few countries such as China and Brazil have specific regulations that can be applied to it – the Chinese government declared it illegal while Brazil passed a law which paves the way for its future use.
The rest of the countries listed are choosing to monitor the currency for now since it’s still unregulated.
The report noted that the biggest concern among governments is the kind of impact Bitcoin will have on national currencies, the implications of its use for taxation, and its potential for criminal use.
With regards to Ireland, it noted the government saying the threat to the Exchequer was “likely to be small.” It also said the Revenue Commissioners are monitoring Bitcoin’s development and considering its implications for possible taxation.
The report concluded that its findings “reveal that the debate over how to deal with this new virtual currency is still in its infancy.”