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Can Torrevieja become Europe’s first crypto-friendly city?

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Torrevieja, a tourist hub in the Alicante province of Spain with a population of 82,000, intends to become “the first crypto-friendly city in Europe” by letting its stores accept cryptocurrencies. 

On Feb. 6, the official website of the Torrevieja administration announced the city’s “ambitious digital transformation project,” a collaboration between the Department of Commerce of Torrevieja City Council and the Association of Small and Medium Merchants of Torrevieja.

To transform Torrevieja into a crypto-friendly city in Europe, the local government and businesses will digitize local commerce using blockchain technology.

The first phase will “focus on promoting commerce” through the use of cryptocurrencies in transactions, allowing customers to pay for products and services with cryptocurrencies and “other crypto assets.”

In two other phases, the city will try to recover “natural spaces” and promote the creation of new jobs and financing for companies in the technology sector.

Related: Spanish Treasury to seize crypto to pay tax debts

Local Councilor for Commerce Rosario Martínez Chazarra expressed her hope that the measures will incentivize crypto owners. She also indicated that the University of Alicante will launch special digital payment courses for local businesses.

The president of the Association of Small and Medium Merchants, Jorge Almarcha, highlighted that “in Spain, since 2015, it has been legal to pay with cryptocurrencies,” but no attempts have been made to democratize digital payments.

Neither Bitcoin (BTC) nor any other cryptocurrency holds legal tender status in Spain. However, the country remains relatively open to the crypto industry. The number of crypto companies officially registered to operate in Spain grew by roughly 56% in 2023. The country occupies fourth place globally after the United States, Canada and Australia for its number of Bitcoin ATMs, with 309 machines.

The Spanish government has also been preoccupied with collecting taxes from its crypto holders. Even residents holding any crypto assets on non-Spanish platforms will have to declare them by March 31 under new laws governing the taxation of digital assets.

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