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Argentina President Milei Disappoints Some Bitcoiners as Crypto Registration Rule Begins

Tomas Cuesta

Argentina last week moved forward with implementing a Registry of Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP), drawing some outcry from those who hoped the nation might be heading in the direction of El Salvador's welcoming of Bitcoin.

The new law means platforms and individuals who purchase, sell, send or trade cryptocurrencies must adhere to a registration process. While the regulation appears to have been left over by the previous government, the fact that it's moved forward and has now become law under President Javier Milei is disappointing to those who imagined Latin America was going to get another bitcoin-friendly leader.

“Javier Milei makes his first major mistake,” tweeted Max Kieser, a longtime Bitcoin maxi and an advisor to El Salvador President Nayib Bukele. “He never took the time to understand #Bitcoin, now he’ll suffer the consequences.” El Salvador under Bukele in 2021 became the first nation on the globe to make bitcoin legal tender.

The new regulation looks to be having immediate effect, with users of payment app Strike reporting that the platform informed them that the Send Globally function between Argentina and the U.S. will no longer be supported. CoinDesk has reached out to Strike for comment.

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The libertarian Milei, who had previously lauded Bitcoin as a safe haven against central banking and inflation, came to power in December 2023 amid triple digit annual inflation. To this point, he's had some success trimming the size and scope of the government, with Argentina this year posting its first monthly budget surplus since 2011. The monthly inflation rate fell to 13.2% in February from 20.6% in January and 25.5% the month before that.

To be sure, not everyone views the new VASP law as negative. “If Argentina wants more access to foreign investment, this [the new regulation] is one of the things that needed to be implemented,” said an Argentina resident on X.