Mexico Warns Against Cryptocurrency Use After Billionaire Pitch

Mexico’s central bank said financial institutions aren’t allowed to trade or offer services based on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, a day after billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego said his bank is on the way to accepting the virtual token.

Carrying out and offering operations with crypto assets without authorization would be seen as a violation of regulations and a company could be subject to sanctions, Banxico, as the central bank is known, said in a joint statement with Mexico’s Finance Ministry and the country’s banking regulator.

“Virtual assets do not constitute legal tender in Mexico nor are they currencies under the current legal framework,” the authorities wrote in the statement Monday.

The declaration comes on the heels of a tweet by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego -- the owner of Banco Azteca -- saying on Sunday his bank is working to accept Bitcoin. The bank was not directly referenced in the authorities’s statement.

Mexico’s release also reiterated warnings about the risks of using cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange, store of value, or as an investment, which has been the long-standing position of the country’s financial authorities. In order to maintain a healthy distance between virtual assets and the financial system, the authorities wrote, Mexican financial institutions are not allowed to offer operations in Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, and others.

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