Business Insider just reported that the Swedish authorities have accepted cryptocurrency for the first time as a method of payment to settle debt.
According to the report, an entity called the Swedish Enforcement Authority, which is essentially the Swedish version of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US, had been chasing up an individual for a debt owed to the government. The individual offered payment in bitcoin and the Swedish Enforcement Authority accepted.
We aren’t talking massive numbers – the debt amounted to 0.6 bitcoin, which is the equivalent of around 25,700 Swedish krona or $3176 as of time of writing – but it’s not the numbers that are important here.
What is important is that the Swedish authorities are recognizing bitcoin as a legitimate asset and, in turn, implying that it has a degree of inherent value – something that has been thrown back and forth in the debate as to whether bitcoin is a viable store of wealth over the last couple of years.
Of note, at the time that the transaction took place, the bitcoin involved was worth around $600 less than is currently the case, with bitcoin having soared past the $5000 mark over the last 24 hours.
The Swedish Enforcement Authority has been known to accept a wide variety of asset types as settlement of debt, as is the case with the IRS in the US. Houses, cars, anything that can be sold is an asset worth seizing and, just as all these assets are distributed post acquisition, the bitcoin involved in this transaction will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Johannes Paulson, the guy that’s in charge of operations development at the SEA, said this about the agency’s willingness to accept BTC:
“You find assets not only in the driveway or the living room, but also on the internet. We are used to dealing with the banking system. This is another sort of asset, and a particular way to ensure [the sort of access] we haven’t had before.”
What will be interesting now is to see how much the 0.6 BTC goes for at auction.
We will be watching, with the auction set to take place today.
Image courtesy of Håkan Dahlström via Flickr