Bank of Finland says Bitcoin is not a currency, but a commodity

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 20, 2014 07:03 AM EST

Finland has decided that Bitcoin cannot be considered a currency or even an electronic form of payment, Bloomberg reported. Instead, the country's central bank has categorized the digital money as a commodity.

In a phone interview, Bank of Finland Head of Oversight Paeivi Heikkinen told Bloomberg, "Considering the definition of an official currency as set out in law, it's not that. It's also not a payment instrument, because the law stipulates that a payment instrument must have an issuer responsible for its operation. At this stage it's more comparable to a commodity."

The report said Finland is the most recent country trying to come to terms with the emergence of digital currencies that are not under the control of any government or central bank. Watchdogs are grappling to come up with frameworks that seek to give protection to consumers and businesses from possible losses as European regulators caution of the risks of using software as a substitute for real currency, the report said.

Meanwhile, the government of Norway has already decided that Bitcoin cannot be considered as a currency. Denmark's financial regulator has also said that it is trying to come up with recommendations that will guide lawmakers on how Bitcoin and its rival digital currencies should be treated, the report said.

Bloomberg reported that Bitcoin has gained mixed receptions around the world. In China, the central bank has barred banks from handling the virtual currency. Meanwhile, the US Internal Revenue Service has not given further guidance on the Bitcoin. The regulator only said that it has tracked digital currencies and transactions for the past seven years and that it is still working on the issue, the report said.

Although the Bank of Finland has said that Bitcoin is not legal tender, Finns will still be able to utilize the software for payments, the report said.

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