The government has finished drafting a bill regulating Macao’s money issuance, which proposes that the city’s legal tender will also cover digital currency, in addition to the current and traditional forms of currency, namely banknotes and coins.
Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon said that under the bill, digital patacas will have the same status as banknotes and coins.
Cheong also said that the government’s future possible issuance of Macao’s own digital currency will be regulated by specific legislation.
Cheong pointed out that the current decree law regulating Macao’s money issuance, which was promulgated in 1995, has been in force for over 27 years. Cheong said that with the aim of improving Macao’s legal system on currency issuance in a way that would enable it to be on par with the respective legal systems in mainland China and Hong Kong and their economic environments, the Macao government had decided to draft new legislation on money issuance.
According to Cheong, the bill also proposes to formalise the issuance of commemorative banknotes, with the aim of “properly distinguishing between” banknotes intended to mark important events and banknotes issued for general circulation.
While the current decree law on money issuance lists commemorative coins and coins in general circulation, it does not stipulate the issuance of commemorative banknotes.
In addition, according to Cheong, the bill proposes to formalise the permission for the sale of commemorative banknotes and coins, as well as of general banknotes and coins in special packaging.
Moreover, Cheong said that with the continuous development of e-payment and changes in people’s consumption patterns here, the bill proposes to list certain special circumstances that will exempt businesses from their statutory obligation to accept cash.
According to Cheong, the bill also proposes to lower the official maximum number of coins that a business must accept in a transaction from the current 100 to 50.
The current decree law on money issuance stipulates that in any payment, businesses are not obliged to receive more than 100 coins, regardless of the face value of the coins concerned.
The bill, according to Cheong, also proposes to fine businesses who refuse to accept the legal tender, meaning patacas. The bill proposes that violators will be fined between MOP 1,000 and MOP 10,000.
While the current decree-law stipulates the statutory obligation for businesses to accept the legal tender, such violations do not carry a fine.
Lei Ho Ian, a member of the Administrative Committee of the Macao Monetary Authority (AMCM), said that the government has commenced a study on the feasibility of the issuance of digital currency in Macao, but for the time being it does not have a timetable as to when the digital pataca would be launched.
Lei said that while the development of a digital economy is the dominant trend which “certainly involves the use of intangible currency”, for the time being, it was still too early to say whether Macao would roll out digital currency.
Nevertheless, according to Lei, the local government has concluded that Macao would need a new legal system on money issuance that covers digital currency.
While the pataca is Macao’s only legal tender, the Hong Kong dollar has been the city’s customary tender for decades, The Macau Post Daily reported.