Uruguay fintechs to propose cryptocurrency rules

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Uruguay's fintech chamber is forming a special committee tasked with proposing cryptocurrency regulations.

The chamber is inviting companies, consultants, entrepreneurs and government officials, among others, to collaborate.

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Working with authorities in the area of laws and regulations is part of what the chamber does.

Uruguay does not have specific cryptocurrency rules in place.

In 2017 a central bank official said authorities would start regulating fintechs this year. Among those calling for rules were peer-to-peer lenders.

Uruguay fintech chamber founder and former chamber president Sebastián Olivera told BNamericas that the cryptocurrency proposals that are drawn up will pass through established institutional channels.

"We realize that no activity can be developed outside of the regulatory sphere, and that's particularly true when we're talking about the financial system. For that reason we're focusing on collaborating with the regulator and all other stakeholders involved," said Olivera, who also represents Uruguay in the international industry association FinTech IberoAmérica.

"Our focus is on leveraging innovation to help strengthen and develop - and increase transparency in - the financial system, contributing to the fight against the legitimization of assets derived from criminal activities, terrorism or drug-trafficking."

He said associated objectives of the policy push are to spur investment and innovation in the local industry and continue promoting Uruguay as a regional technology hub.

ALSO READ: Creeping crypto regulations in LatAM

At a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Chile last month, professors from US higher education institution MIT urged countries in the region to regulate so that incumbents and potential new players know the rules of the game.

Authorites in Chile are drafting fintech regulations that will encompass the cryptocurrency segment, partly in response to a legal feud between banks and several cryptocurrency traders. Regional trailblazer Mexico has already introduced fintech and cryptocurrency regulations.

Regulatory authorities in Uruguay, among them the central bank and the finance ministry, have always been willing to engage in dialogue, Olivera said.

The chamber, called the Cámara Uruguaya de FinTech, was founded in 2017 by sector incumbents and entrepreneurs.

"Within the fintech community we dream of Uruguay being the 'crypto-valley' of LatAm," Olivera said. "We know it's an ambitious target, but we have the talent, the drive, the technology, the capacity, the network of contacts, and the access to investors. Indeed, this motivates us to put ourselves at the service of the regulators, to build together the regulatory framework that will allow us to realize this vision."