Assen Vassilev, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds and Minister of Finance, said the EU member nation is exploring options for rolling out a crypto payment mechanism.
According to a Friday Bloomberg report, Vassilev said the government was in discussion with the Bulgarian National Bank as well as industry players to explore crypto payments “in the short to medium term.” However, he added that Bulgaria was unlikely to become a major hub for crypto miners — many are reportedly considering leaving Kazakhstan amid political turmoil and disruptions to the Internet.
The Bulgarian government may still be one of the biggest HODLers in the world following the seizure of 213,519 Bitcoin (BTC) from an underground crime network before the 2017 bull run — valued at roughly $3.5 billion at the time, but more than $8.2 billion at the time of publication. It’s unclear if officials sold or auctioned the crypto at the time or continues to hold the digital assets.
As a member of the European Union, Bulgaria is one of only eight countries that hasn’t adopted the euro and wouldn’t necessarily benefit from the rollout of a digital euro among participating central banks. In June 2021, the government and Bulgarian National Bank officials said they intended to adopt the euro starting in 2024. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in March that the digital currency might not be introduced until 2025, if not later.
In 2021, a federal jury in the United States found the owner of Bulgaria-based crypto exchange RG Coins, Rossen Iossifov, guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering and money laundering. The Bulgarian national collaborated with others in a scheme that defrauded roughly 900 Americans of more than $7 million. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.