Image credits: Executium, Unsplash / Andrea Villar
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BANXICO Halts Ricardo Salinas' Initiative to Accept Bitcoin

By Andrea Villar | Mon, 06/28/2021 - 15:51

Ricardo Salinas, a vocal supporter of bitcoin since last year, said on Sunday that Banco Azteca is actively working to accept the cryptocurrency as payment. But a joint statement from Mexico’s main financial institution has put the viability and legality of this plan in question.

“I recommend the use of bitcoin. Me and my bank are working to be the first bank in Mexico to accept bitcoin,” Salinas wrote in a tweet on Sunday in response to Michael Saylor, CEO of BI and MicroStrategy. Saylor had shared a video where Salinas states that every investor should have a digital asset in their portfolio and called fiat money a fraud. “Bitcoin is a good way to diversify your investment portfolio and I think any investor should start studying cryptocurrencies and their future,” Salinas explained in another tweet. He added that Banco Azteca is working to be able to accept transactions with it to “continue promoting freedom.” 

However, Mexico's Central Bank (BANXICO), the Ministry of Finance and the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) published a joint statement on Monday stating that financial institutions are not authorized to enter or offer cryptocurrency transactions to the public, including deposits or any other form of custody, exchange or transmission. Those issuing or offering such financial instruments will be liable for any regulations they might infringe upon and will be subject to all applicable sanctions, they said.

In an interview with José Rodríguez, Business Developer LATAM at ChainBytes, broadcasted on June 20 on YouTube, Salinas said he considers bitcoin to be a financial asset, pointing out that he considered it irrelevant whether it is a currency or not and noted that precious metals are not currencies either. “You cannot go to a store with a gold coin and buy a computer. You have to exchange the gold for fiat money and then buy the computer.” Salinas also mentioned inflation in Mexico, citing the sharp devaluation of the Mexican peso against the dollar. “I started my career in 1981. Back then, the peso to dollar exchange rate was at 20:1. Today, we stand at 20,000:1.”

After his statement went viral on social media, bitcoin’s price rose to US$34,805.19 on Monday, 8 percent up from where it stood Friday, according to CoinDesk. Late last year, Salinas revealed on his Twitter account that he has 10 percent of his liquid portfolio invested in bitcoin. He added he first invested in bitcoins four years ago and keeps the balance of his liquid portfolio in precious metal miners. As of Monday, Ricardo Salinas’ net worth was US$15.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst