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El Salvador bill would enable broad crypto adoption, Bitcoin City, and volcano bonds

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(Kitco News) - A new digital securities bill aims to open up El Salvador to all cryptocurrencies and could also make bitcoin volcano bonds a reality in the new year.

The Digital Assets Issuance bill, introduced by Minister of the Economy Maria Luisa Hayem Brevé to the country’s Congress on Tuesday, spells out the proposed legal framework for the legalization of all cryptocurrencies in El Salvador. It separates crypto from other financial assets and establishes a distinct set of regulations to govern them.

The bill is also intended to reassure potential bond buyers that their investments would be secure.

President Nayib Bukele first proposed the idea of BTC-backed ‘volcano’ bonds, named for the Conchagua volcano, in November of 2021.

Bukele’s plan is to raise $1 billion for the project, with half the money being invested directly in BTC. The other half would be used to build a large-scale bitcoin mining operation drawing on the Conchagua volcano for its power, and also to construct ‘Bitcoin City’, a commercial hub that would attract foreign investment to the country’s crypto and financial sectors.

Businesses operating in Bitcoin City would pay a 10% value-added tax, and no other taxes would be applied to their activities. The government hopes that these financial incentives – combined with cheap and reliable geothermal energy from the volcano – will enable them to become the ‘Singapore of the West.’

Under Bukele’s initiative, buyers of the volcano bonds would receive a 6.5 percent return after five years to go along with a fast-track towards Salvadoran citizenship. The latter could be very attractive to crypto community members by the time the bonds mature.

The remaining profits would be split 50/50 between investors and the government as a ‘bitcoin dividend.’

Bukele’s plan calls for the bonds to be issued on Blockstream’s Liquid Network. iFinex, the parent company of both Bitfinex and Tether, would handle the transactions, with Bitfinex expected to obtain a license in the country to do the issuance. Dividends would be distributed through Blockstream’s asset management platform.

President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party holds a substantial majority in Salvador’s Congress, and the law is expected to pass before Christmas. Once the bill becomes law, the volcano bonds could be issued as early as February or March 2023.

El Salvador was the first country in the world to make Bitcoin legal tender when they announced the adoption of the cryptocurrency in June 2021. While many in the country view the decision as a failure, President Bukele has continued to push forward with crypto, recently announcing daily bitcoin purchases by his government despite the turmoil in crypto markets.

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