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Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It’s Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)

Portugal’s Tax Authority has clarified that both cryptocurrency trading and payments in crypto will not be taxed in the country, Cointelegraph en Español reported on Aug. 27. Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It’s Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)

According to a report published on Aug. 26 by Portuguese business newspaper Jornal de Negócios, the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority have confirmed that crypto transactions or payments are exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT).

The agency reportedly provided the clarification to a local crypto mining company, publishing an official ruling document. In the document, the authority states that the exchange of crypto for fiat money is free of VAT, adding that crypto users do not have to pay any income tax.

Portugal Cites A 2015 Ruling For Crypto Tax Exempt

In the official statement, the Portuguese tax authority cited a 2015 ruling by the European Court of Justice regarding the case involving major Swedish Bitcoin (BTC) portal and its moderator David Hedqvist.

As reported at the time, the court ordered that Bitcoin is a means of payment and that the exchange should therefore be exempted VAT obligations. However, the Swedish Tax Agency subsequently argued against the ruling, claiming that the court did not fully understand the matter.

Earlier Stance On Crypto

The confirmation follows a previous tax ruling by the Portuguese tax authority that cryptocurrencies are not taxed in the country. A document published by the agency in 2016 states that income from the sale of crypto in Portugal is not subject to income tax.

Earlier in 2013, the central bank of Portugal, the Banco de Portugal issued a statement citing a 2012 crypto-related paper by the European Central Bank.

The Portuguese bank raised concerns over the ECB’s Bitcoin recognition as a “phenomenon of innovation in virtual currency models,” claiming that Bitcoin cannot be considered a safe currency as it its issued by unregulated entities.

Updated: 8-8-2021

Xiaomi Denies Involvement In Shop Accepting Bitcoin In Portugal

A Portuguese shop selling products of Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi previously announced that it partnered with Utrust to unlock payments in five cryptocurrencies.

Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi has denied the company’s involvement in a move by a Portuguese Xiaomi shop to start accepting Bitcoin (BTC) payments.

Mi Store Portugal, a Xiaomi retailer in the country, announced Wednesday on Facebook that it now allows customers to purchase devices using five cryptocurrencies, including BTC, Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Dash (DASH) and the Utrust (UTK) token.

A spokesperson for ​​Xiaomi subsequently reacted to the news on Chinese social media platform Weibo, stressing that the Mi Store Portugal is not directly related to Xiaomi’s operations. “We are concerned about the information that Mi Store Portugal accepts digital currency payments on overseas social platforms,” the person said. The representative added that Mi Store Portugal is a “third-party authorized partner” and operates independently in Portugal.

Mi Store Portugal subsequently removed the announcement on Aug. 6, also having taken down the related information from its website, previously stating that its customers were able to select the crypto payment option at checkout.

The new payment option is enabled through a partnership with Utrust, a European blockchain technology payment platform. “Xiaomi is the second-largest phone manufacturer in the world, and now their local branch is accepting the Money of Tomorrow,” Utrust said in a now-deleted tweet published on Wednesday.

The firm did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment. Mi Store Portugal’s website still indicates Utrust as a payment partner alongside Visa and PayPal at the time of writing.

According to data from global industry analysis firm Counterpoint, Xiaomi surpassed global smartphone giant Apple as the second-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world in the second quarter of 2021. Mi Store Portugal is the only official retailer of Xiaomi’s certified products in Portugal, operating under the European legislation, the company’s website notes. The firm currently has six physical stores nationwide and is in the process of expansion.

Pedro Maia, marketing director of Mi Store Portugal, reportedly said that the company’s move to accept crypto payments aligns with Xiaomi’s striving for innovation. “We are a technological, innovative, and disruptive brand. That’s why we always want to be one step ahead. We want to give the possibility to all true technology fans to buy their favorite gadgets with what is currently the ‘most technological money.’”

As previously reported, Portugal has been steadily growing as a cryptocurrency-friendly country in recent years, with the local government charging zero taxes from retail crypto trading. Earlier this year, a local energy trading firm started accepting Bitcoin as payment for electricity bills.

In contrast, China has emerged as one of the world’s biggest anti-crypto countries, renewing a nation-wide crackdown on both cryptocurrency mining and crypto trading earlier this year.

Updated: 8-20-2021

Portugal To Ease Restrictions On Size Of Groups At Restaurants

Portugal will ease limits on the size of groups that can be seated at restaurants as it takes the next step in a plan to gradually lift restrictions put in place to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurants will be able to host groups of as many as eight people indoors and 15 people in outdoor seating from Monday, Presidency Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said at a press conference in Lisbon on Friday. That’s up from existing limits allowing groups of as many as six people indoors and 10 people outdoors. The government is also lifting capacity restrictions on public transport.

Portugal accelerated its Covid-19 inoculation campaign amid a new surge of cases in June, and more than 70% of the population has now completed vaccination, according to the government.

Updated: 5-19-2022

Portugal No Longer Considered A Crypto-Friendly Destination

* The Move May Lead To An Overhaul Of Its Tax-Free Crypto Regime
* ‘The Timetable Will Be As Soon As Possible’: Finance Minister Fernando Medina

Portugal is embarking on a major change of course as it considers levying taxes on cryptocurrencies, signaling a policy shift for one of Europe’s most crypto-friendly destinations.

The country’s lack of legislation, combined with its affordable living costs and mild temperatures has attracted a growing number of digital nomads and cryptocurrency companies in recent years. At the moment, Portugal does not tax crypto gains, unless it stems from professional or business activities.

But this could soon change.

“The government’s intention is to legislate on this matter,” Finance Minister Fernando Medina told reporters in Lisbon on Thursday. “I don’t want to commit to a deadline. The timetable will be as soon as possible, when we have a consistent proposal and after a wide public debate.”

Medina, a former mayor of Lisbon, insisted that Portugal would still be a competitive destination once the new tax rules come into force.

“Portugal will adopt a regime that is effective, that is fair, and a regime that fits within the best practices from the point of view of what are the international experiences and also the competitive position of the country,” he said.

The presence of crypto enthusiasts is palpable in Lisbon, where networking opportunities range from the annual Web Summit, one of the world’s biggest technology conferences, to weekly informal gatherings at bars.

The number of foreign residents living in Portugal rose 40% over the past decade to 555,299 people in 2021, according to Portugal’s National Statistics Institute.

Some of these residents also benefit from a flat 20% tax on their income or a 10% tax on their pensions, according to the country’s so-called non-habitual resident program.

“While there is no official explanation, some banks just tell us they don’t want to work with crypto companies,” said Guimaraes. “It’s almost impossible to start a crypto business in Portugal right now.”

Portuguese state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos and Lisbon-based BiG are also among lenders in Portugal rejecting or closing down crypto exchange accounts, Jornal de Negocios reported earlier on Wednesday.

Updated: 8-3-2022

Portuguese Crypto Exchanges Dealt A Blow As Banks Close Accounts

* Moves Could Harm Portugal’s Burgeoning Crypto Ecosystem
* At Least Three Exchanges In Portugal Had Accounts Closed

Some of Portugal’s biggest banks are closing the accounts of digital-currency exchanges, a move that could deal a blow to one of Europe’s most crypto-friendly destinations.

Banco Comercial Portugues, Portugal’s biggest listed bank, and Banco Santander, shut down all of Lisbon-based CriptoLoja’s accounts last week, said Pedro Borges, the exchange’s co-founder and chief executive officer. The move took place after two smaller banks in Portugal also closed the company’s accounts. The lenders didn’t provide an official explanation, he said.

At least two other crypto exchanges in Portugal have also been hit by bank account closures this year. Crypto firm Mind the Coin has been unable to open an account for months after all of its accounts in Portugal were shuttered earlier this year, said Pedro Guimaraes, the company’s founder.

Rival Luso Digital Assets also had some of its accounts shut down in Portugal this year, Chief Product Officer Ricardo Filipe said.

Cryptocurrency companies globally have long struggled to open and maintain bank accounts, with large lenders citing concerns about the sector’s anti-money laundering and know-your-customer standards.

Banco Comercial said in an emailed statement that its duty is to inform the competent authorities whenever it sees “suspicious transactions,” which may also determine the termination of banking relationships with certain entities.

A Banco Santander representative said the lender acts in “accordance with its perception of risk” and that any decision to maintain an account depends on “several factors.”

“We now have to rely on using accounts outside Portugal to run the exchange,” said Borges, whose company last year was the first to receive a license from the central bank to operate in Portugal. CriptoLoja always informed authorities of suspicious operations, he said.

“All the compliance and reporting procedures have been followed,” he said.

While it is unclear if any other crypto companies have had their accounts closed this year, the moves affect three out of the five virtual coin exchanges with a central bank license and could signal a toughening environment for Portugal’s digital-assets sector.

The southern European nation became a haven for crypto enthusiasts during the Covid-19 pandemic becasue of its zero-percent taxes on digital-currency gains, affordable living costs and mild temperatures all-year round.

“While there is no official explanation, some banks just tell us they don’t want to work with crypto companies,” said Guimaraes.

“It’s almost impossible to start a crypto business in Portugal right now.”

Portuguese state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos and Lisbon-based BiG are also among lenders in Portugal rejecting or closing down crypto exchange accounts, Jornal de Negocios reported earlier on Wednesday.

The Bank of Portugal has licensed all of the exchanges that have had their accounts closed, including Criptoloja, Mind The Coin and Luso Digital Assets.

Several large banks in Portugal have reportedly begun closing the accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges due to “risk management” concerns, suggesting a shift in Portugal’s pro-crypto position. The country’s central bank appears to have given the financial institutions the green light to take action.

Several of Portugal’s top banks recently closed the accounts of CriptoLoja, the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange to obtain a license to operate. According to a Bloomberg report, at least four domestic cryptocurrency exchanges have seen their accounts shut by BCP (Banco Comercial Portugues), Santander Bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BiG and Abanca.

All the exchanges are licensed by the Bank of Portugal, which regulates domestic cryptocurrency trading platforms. Three of the exchanges were identified as Criptoloja, Mind The Coin and Luso Digital Assets, with a third requesting that their name not be published by media platforms.

The head of the Bank of Portugal, Mário Centeno, was quoted as saying that banks had complete freedom to do anything they wanted, but he promised to keep a close eye on the situation.

The Bank of Portugal’s oversight of exchanges includes ensuring that platforms combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and work to prevent fraud.

BCP told Bloomberg that its primary duty was to inform competent authorities if it detects “suspicious transactions,” which may lead to the termination of banking relationships with certain companies.

Cointelegraph reached out to CryptoLoja, one of the affected crypto exchanges, for comment but did not receive a response as of press time. This article will be updated when a response is received.

The closure of these accounts is seen as a blow to Portugal’s crypto-friendly approach, as authorities had previously rejected two tax proposals that might have been applied to investors making money from cryptocurrencies.

However, the government and financial sector have recently shown an increased interest in regulating cryptocurrency in line with other European Union nations.

Crypto exchanges have had trouble obtaining banking services worldwide due to their perceived risk. As reported by Cointelegraph, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren is reportedly proposing a bill that would effectively ban bank-provided cryptocurrency services.

The Iberian nation has drawn Bitcoin entrepreneurs from around Europe, particularly Ukrainians fleeing the crisis in their home country.

Around 27,000 Ukrainians lived in the Iberian nation before the military conflict with Russia, but their number has risen to over 52,000, making them the second-largest foreign population after Brazilians.

Updated: 8-4-2022

Here’s Why Portuguese Banks Are Closing Crypto Exchange Accounts


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)


At least three exchanges have had their accounts shut despite obtaining regulatory approval to operate in the country. The reason? The banks’ fear of potential money laundering.

Portuguese commercial banks are shutting down the accounts of crypto exchanges because they want to avoid the potential for criminal activity through those exchanges.

And even though the exchanges are licensed to operate in Portugal, the banks can basically do what they want when it comes to shutting those accounts.

Last week, Portugal’s largest bank, Banco Comercial Português, and Banco Santander (SAN) closed Portuguese crypto exchange CriptoLoja’s accounts. The exchange is no longer allowed to hold any capital within those banks.

This exchange is not alone. Earlier this year, crypto exchanges Mind the Coin and Luso Digital Assets also had their accounts closed by Portuguese banks.

Portuguese banks have been closing crypto exchanges’ accounts over the past year, citing concerns about crypto exchanges facilitating money laundering and other criminal activities.

“From the corporate side it’s a nightmare. A simple payment is not as easy as if we had a bank account here in Portugal,” said Pedro Borges, the CEO of CriptoLoja. “This kind of nuisance, these kinds of measures that the banks are taking are not good for the country.”

Luso Chief Product Officer Ricardo Felipe told CoinDesk that last year national bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos gave him no reason why the exchange is no longer allowed to hold accounts with the bank.

Banco Comercial Português and Banco Santander said they closed accounts this year because of suspected fraudulent clients. Borges did not respond to questions about these specific allegations.

“We already knew that this was just a matter of time and we would need to pay attention and focus our efforts on our banking relationships,” said Felipe.

Felipe said the regulatory landscape in Portugal allows for banks to legally terminate accounts with cryptocurrency exchanges without any input from the regulator.

“Even though we do have an [anti-money laundering] regulation or license from them, it’s not something that establishes that kind of operation with the banks,” said Felipe.

Nuno Correia, chief strategy officer and founder of Portuguese cryptocurrency exchange Utrust, told CoinDesk the company hasn’t been impacted by banks closing its accounts. However, he sees the discrepancies between the regulators and the banking sector.

“The Central Bank of Portugal has a deep expertise, does deep due diligence in businesses and at the same time embraces innovation. [It is] not the same case for the banking sector itself,” Correia said.

Portuguese Regulatory Framework

Portuguese banks are regulated by Banco de Portugal, the nation’s central bank. According to local lawyer João G. Gil Figueira, the central bank grants licenses to various cryptocurrency companies operating in the country.

However, commercially independent banks are at their own discretion to allow these companies to hold accounts in their banks and can terminate them whenever they choose.

Figueira told CoinDesk that banks prefer to work with companies that may not raise concerns over money laundering or tax evasion, two crimes seen as commonly associated with digital asset lenders and brokers.

“It seems that banks do not trust their own regulator’s judgment on issuing such authorizations to operate. So it’s a mixture of banks being slow-moving, unprepared, afraid of money laundering, and preferring other low-hanging fruits in other sectors,” Figueira told CoinDesk.

Although Luso cannot hold an account with the Banco de Portugal, Felipe said he’s optimistic that European Union’s upcoming Markets in Crypto Assets bill that will go into effect in 2024 will provide regulatory clarity on the relationship between commercial banks and regulators.

The Markets in Crypto Assets law (MiCA) will provide a regulatory framework for digital asset regulation, from stablecoins to initial coin offerings, across the European Union. It will also create a common licensing regime, allowing companies to easily set up in each of the EU’s member nations.

“With MiCA, we will turn into financial institutions. We will have that safeguard of being given partner bank accounts in Portugal, even if the bank wants to conceal them,” said Felipe.

However, Figueira isn’t under the impression that MiCA will do anything to prevent banks from closing accounts in Portugal. Rather, it will work as a “passport” for crypto companies to operate between European nations.

“MiCA will not have an impact in the [anti-money laundering/know your customer rules] regard, as much as it will have an impact on consumer protection, so more so on the creation, issuance and investment in such assets.

It will not so much have a direct impact on the banking aspects and issues that we are discussing,” said Figueira.

Updated: 6-8-2023

Americans Are Leaving Portugal As Golden Visa Honeymoon Ends


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)

Some expats are departing the country as rising home prices and bureaucratic hurdles make life difficult.

For many Americans, a love affair with Portugal blossomed over the last three years: The Iberian nation offered cheap real estate, miles of beautiful coastline and a reprieve from divisive US politics at a time when remote work was flourishing. Now, reality has settled in — and the honeymoon is over.

From language barriers and bureaucratic challenges to housing costs that have been driven higher by foreign investment, some expats say that life in Portugal hasn’t met their expectations.

The country is losing its appeal for potential newcomers, too, after pulling its golden visa program in February. Several expat services, consultants and bloggers say there’s been a decrease in the number of foreigners looking to relocate to Portugal.

Get Golden Visa, an international residency program, recorded a 37% drop in the number of inquiries from Americans for its Portugal programs in the first quarter, and a 18% drop for all expats, compared with the same period last year.

“People who enquired last winter about moving to Portugal have for the most part not followed through,” said David McNeill, founder of consulting company Expat Empire.


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)


It’s a significant about-face from recent years. As the work-from-anywhere revolution took hold during the pandemic, Portugal lured foreigners with its residency-by-investment program, digital nomad visas and tax savings — a flat 20% income tax for certain professionals for 10 years of residence and no tax on foreign income for non-residents.

The number of foreign residents surged in recent years to an all-time high of nearly 700,000, and the number of Americans more than tripled to 9,794 between 2018 and 2022, according to official statistics.

The influx of new residents has strained Portugal’s housing supply.  Home prices jumped 19% in 2022, the largest annual gain since 1991. And rent has surged too, ballooning 43% year-over-year in Lisbon to 1,693 euros, according to real estate site Idealista.

The increased cost of living is part of what’s deterring foreigners, many of whom are unable to afford real estate in their home countries and are looking for cheaper options as they head into retirement or rely on low-wage jobs.

The lack of affordable housing has also drawn the ire of some Portuguese citizens, and the government responded in February by pulling the golden visa program to slow the influx of foreign money.


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)


The program had brought in 7 billion euros since it was launched in 2012. Americans were granted 216 golden visas last year alone, surpassing the Chinese as the top recipients of golden visas in Portugal in 2022, according to immigration statistics.


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)


To be sure, Portugal’s digital nomad visa continues to be popular. The program, introduced last October, allows non-EU remote workers earning at least 2,800 euros a month to live in the country for up to five years.

In six months, 930 such visas were granted, according to Portugal’s immigration department, with Americans receiving the most. And the US dollar remains strong, allowing Americans to purchase property in Europe and enjoy a different lifestyle.

Many hurdles new residents complain about are ordinary, administrative tasks that most expats face when moving to a new country. Still, expats are increasingly considering other options.

Spain and France are receiving the highest volume of inquiries these days, said US cross-border tax expert Derren Hayden Joseph, as wealthy Americans look to move to more developed and better-connected countries in southern Europe.

“It comes down to the quality of life,” said Joseph. “People want good access to amenities and easy-to-figure out tax and visa systems.”

Jannik Hansen, a 33-year-old Danish blogger who first moved to Lisbon in November 2020, has experienced bureaucratic headaches. He and his partner moved outside the city — in turn, away from public transit — to save on rent, but he hasn’t been able to receive his Portuguese driver’s license despite applying two years ago. Now, they want to leave the country.


Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)

“The country was never set up to welcome this many expats at once,” he said. “A lot of people come for a year and leave after six months.”

Ultimate Resource On Portugal And It's Treatment Of Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin)

In some cases, the turnaround is even quicker.



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