Cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity in the Baltic states where no comprehensive regulations have been introduced yet. Businesses from multiple sectors, including real estate, online trade, the hospitality industry, and even healthcare, are taking advantage of crypto payments. Some companies from the region are already offering their services globally.
Also read: Blind Denial of Cryptocurrencies Leads Nowhere, Bank of Lithuania Says
Apartments Sold for Bitcoin
Cryptocurrencies are becoming more widely accepted in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, where buying a cup of coffee with bitcoin is nothing special these days. Cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, and even an orthopedic clinic, are now accepting cryptos, according to local media. It seems that the Baltic Tigers of the EU are becoming the “Bitcoin Tigers” of Europe.
Crypto payments have been introduced in the real estate business by several companies selling land plots and housing units in the Baltics, Novaya Gazeta reports. Potential buyers will soon be able to purchase land and homes in the Auriai cottage settlement, which is currently under construction not far from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
Crypto-priced real estate is also sold in neighboring Latvia and Estonia. The Latvian branch of Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty is offering penthouse apartments in Jūrmala for bitcoin. Recently, the Estonian realtor LAAM Kinnisvara announced it is accepting cryptocurrency for apartments in the town of Maardu, 15 minutes car drive from Tallinn. A third of the 44 units built by the company there have been sold already. The next bitcoin deal is scheduled to take place next week.
Cryptos Accepted For Clothes
More than 30 locations in Vilnius accept crypto payments, in Tallinn they are 26, and in Riga – 21, according to Coinmap. Bitcoin ATMs can be found in the capitals of Estonia and Lithuania, according to Coinatmradar. Most of the businesses accepting cryptos are from the hospitality industry – cafes, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, several hotels. Other sectors, however, are quickly catching up.
About a month ago, the United Colors of Benetton franchisee in Lithuania announced it would accept cryptocurrencies. The stores of the fashion brand in Vilnius now take bitcoin, etherium, dash, NEM, and steem through a partnership with Coppay. The Belarus-based payments provider offers instant conversion to fiat at an exchange rate based on data from multiple markets. “Our employees like it because it’s simple and easy. No additional training was needed”, said Arturas Zuokas, co-owner of the company and former mayor of Vilnius.
By the way, Lithuania already has a platform similar to the one maintained by Coppay. The local company Coingate recently signed an agreement with a French developer of online payment solutions. Through this partnership with Prestashop, the Lithuanians plan to provide services to 80,000 merchants around the world.
Bitcoin Still Unregulated
No comprehensive regulations have been adopted yet in neither of the Baltic states. Latvia has recently attempted to partially recognize cryptocurrencies for taxation purposes. Authorities in Riga said that bitcoin could “function as a means of exchange”. As a result, 20% tax will be imposed on capital gains from deals with cryptocurrency.
Estonia, arguably the most digitally developed Baltic country, has been mulling over issuing its own cryptocurrency. Tallinn is not giving up on the idea, despite the negative stance of the European Central Bank. Officials behind the project are still pushing for issuing “estcoin”, not as a crypto, but as a token. In any case, Estonia is resolved to proceed with its plans for a national coin.
The central bank of Lithuania, which was opposing cryptocurrencies for some time, has just started consultations with representatives of the crypto sector on a possible regulatory framework. “The blind denial, the reluctance to understand and work with the cryptocurrency world, leads us nowhere”, a high ranking official of Lietuvos Bankas said last week.
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