Macau plans to make digital currency a legal tender

Macau is considering introducing digital currency as a legal tender. The initiative is aimed at combating money laundering and tax evasion.


Macau has just taken a big step towards embracing a digital currency. On Friday, the Executive Council of Macau (ECM) published an announcement concluding the discussions on the draft bill titled "Legal regime for the creation and issuance of money."

Key proposals include granting digital currency the status of a legal tender on par with "the traditional forms of currency," i.e., banknotes and coins. Anyone refusing to accept a digital currency would be subject to a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 patacas (ca. $120–1,2000).

The document doesn't name any specific currency, but it refers to "the economic environment and the legal framework of Mainland China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," which might imply that it's CBDC that ECM has in mind rather than Bitcoin. In China, the digital yuan, a digital currency issued by the People's Bank of China, has been undergoing public testing since April 2021.

Formerly a Portuguese colony, now a city and a special administrative region of China, Macau is known as a top destination for gambling tourism. Its gambling industry is seven times larger than that of Las Vegas, and its yearly gambling revenues exceed $13 billion.

The introduction of a digital currency is most likely aimed as a means of curbing money laundering and tax evasion. Local authorities hinted at such plans last year, albeit without providing details.