Until the recent past, cryptocurrencies were depicted as rivals to the current financial system, which promises to increase financial inclusions, create a transparent economy, and more.
The primary purpose behind cryptocurrency is decentralisation. Meaning they are not controlled either by a central bank or the government.
Consequently, digital currencies gained massive popularity among economists, investors, banks, and of course, the government.
As a result, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are subjected to various controversies and discussions globally.
A couple of months back, Beijing banned banks and payment firms from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, wiping $400B off the market.
Last month, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange Binance in the UK. Notably, Binance has been scrutinised in several countries including, the US, Japan, Canada, and Germany as well.
As cryptocurrencies are spreading across the world, regulations are being put in place to protect crypto-investors and manage these currencies.
European Commission’s proposals
In the latest development, European Commission (EC) has outlined a bunch of proposals to regulate and tighten up the cryptocurrency transfers using Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Terrorism Financing (CTF) laws.
“The aim of this package is to improve the detection of suspicious transactions and activities, and to close loopholes used by criminals to launder illicit proceeds or finance terrorist activities through the financial system,” says the Commission in a statement.
To thwart money laundering and other financial crimes, cryptocurrency exchanges that transfer Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies must collect the details of both sender and recipients. The details include name, address, official personal document number, and more.
“Today’s amendments will ensure full traceability of crypto-asset transfers, such as bitcoin, and will allow for prevention and detection of their possible use for money laundering or terrorism financing,” says the Commission.
The EC’s latest law is similar to what is known as travel rules to make the crypto transaction traceable. The rule, which is recommended by the inter-governmental watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), applies already to wire transfer.
Mairead McGuinness, the EU Commissioner for Financial Services, tweets, “Cryptocurrency is one of the newest ways to launder money. Our rules will now apply to the whole of the crypto sector. We will ban anonymous crypto wallets and make sure that crypto-asset transfers are traceable.”
Much needed clarification
And here’s where the trouble started! This announcement sent cryptocurrencies tumbling. For example, Bitcoin went below the $30K mark, and other cryptocurrencies witnessed a free fall. However, the market recovered quickly.
According to David Z Morris from Coindesk, the EU had misrepresented the matter of the proposed regulation. He clarified saying, “Rather than a ban on crypto wallets, the EU rules would impose tighter but defensible rules on money service providers, such as exchanges or custody services.”
“In short, the ban would impact the crypto equivalent of Swiss bank accounts, not the use of crypto as cash. So if you’re willing and able to self-custody (which you should be doing anyway), you can still hold and spend crypto anonymously (unless you do commit a crime, then that anonymity probably won’t last long),” he says. It is worth noting that cryptocurrency wallets are anonymous by default.
The new rules is proposed as an amendment to the 2015 EU Regulation on transfers of funds (Regulation 2015/847). Notably, a vote on the proposals is expected later this year, after which it could become law.
“These proposals have been designed to find the right balance between addressing these threats and complying with international standards while not creating an excessive regulatory burden on the industry,” the European Commission says. “On the contrary, these proposals will help the EU crypto-asset industry develop, as it will benefit from an updated, harmonised legal framework across the EU.”