Under the concept of "virtual currencies" (also known as "cryptocurrencies"), several categories are included, including:
From bitcoins (the most well-known and popular) and other alternative currencies outside of these (which are generically called "altcoins"), all of them under the common denominator of being created with a "cryptographic" base (system that protects information and communications through algorithms that make them secure and immutable) and to operate independently on their own DLT networks (distributed ledger technology or blockchain), which allows a public record of all transactions carried out with the corresponding virtual currency.
Even the most recent ones, such as:
- stablecoins or stable currencies that are virtual currencies designed to reduce the volatility that occurs in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, by being linked to the value of one or more legal currencies such as the dollar or the euro, to material assets such as gold or real estate, or to another cryptocurrency or be controlled by algorithms that allow a stable price to be maintained.
- and, in general, payment "tokens" that, unlike the previous ones (bitcoins or altcoins), do not have their own DLT or blockchain so they require another DLT platform (not their own) to function. Thus, for example, Ethereum is one of the platforms that allows people or entities to create their own virtual currencies to finance projects.
The financing of projects through platforms currently occurs mainly through the so-called "initial cryptocurrency offerings" or ICOs (Initial Coin Offering, an acronym that evokes the expression IPO or Initial Public Offering, used in relation to processes IPO).
However, the expression ICO can refer to both the actual issuance of cryptocurrencies and the issuance of rights of various kinds generally called "tokens".
The term token ("token" could be the translation into Spanish) is broader than that of cryptocurrency since it can be used not only as a means of payment but for other diverse uses by converting any right into a fungible and negotiable digital asset. A token can digitally represent values (such as a virtual currency), but also rights (a property, a share, a financial asset, etc.). Hence we currently talk about crypto assets.
The uses and characteristics of these "tokens" (tokens or cryptoassets) vary, with the most common classification of these "tokens" being the one that allows us to differentiate between three types or categories:
"Payment tokens", cryptocurrencies or virtual currencies, which are used as a means of payment and as a store of value and unit of measurement operating more similarly to legal tender money. They are traded and can be exchanged for traditional or virtual currencies on specialized currency platforms, after their issuance.
"Security tokens", designed as tradable assets that are held for investment purposes since they generally grant participation in the future income or increase in value of the issuing entity or a business and
"Utility tokens", currently translated into Spanish as "service tokens", which give the right to access a service or receive a product, without prejudice to which mention is usually made on the occasion of the offer to expectations of revaluation and liquidity or to the possibility of trading them in specific markets.
Regarding the definition in our legal system of "virtual currencies", article 3 of Royal Decree-Law 7/2021, of April 27, has transposed into our legislation the definition contained in the Directive ( EU )2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive ( EU ) 2015/849 on prevention of the use of the financial system for money laundering or the financing of terrorism. To this end, it adds, with effect from April 29, 2019, a new section 5 to article 1 of Law 10/2010, of April 28, on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The new section 5 of article 1 of Law 10/2010 defines "virtual currency" as "that digital representation of value not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or public authority, not necessarily associated with a legally established currency and which does not have the legal status of currency or money, but which is accepted as a medium of exchange and can be transferred, stored or negotiated electronically ."
Taking this definition into account, virtual currencies ("cryptocurrencies" or "payment tokens") are considered, for tax purposes, as intangible assets , computable by units or fractions of units, which are not are legal tender, which can be exchanged for other goods, including other virtual currencies, rights or services, if accepted by the person or entity that transfers the good or right or provides the service, and which can be acquired or transmitted generally to legal tender currency exchange.
Considering that each virtual currency has its origin in a specific computer protocol, different scope of acceptance, different liquidity, value and denomination, the different virtual currencies are different goods.