After more than a year of deliberation, the EU decided to outlaw anonymous cryptocurrency transactions on Friday, according to a report from Reuters.
Cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers will be required to identify users. The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs said that the ruling must be converted to enforceable law within EU member states within 18 months.
The discussion began in earnest in 2015 after 130 people were killed in a major terrorist attack in Paris. Concerns regarding the financing of terrorism became very immediate, and Bitcoin regulation was one of the primary subjects of discussion after the event. The currency came under suspicion because anonymous transactions were seen to have at least partly helped the coordination of the attacks escape the notice of security authorities.
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EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said: “Today’s agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing.”
Political violence aside, tax evasion, money-laundering and the drug trade are other activities which governments are generally keen to keep an eye on. In the UK, police are currently processing several dozen cases of drug dealers using cryptocurrency to store their proceeds, compared with “zero” such cases at the beginning of last year, according to the Serious and Organised Crime Command. UK Business Insider reported that London police claim that low-level criminals are increasingly using cryptocurrency ATMs in the city.
Interestingly, Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) recently said that the bank would not be able to control digital cryptocurrency, stating to the aforementioned committee that “it would actually not be in our powers to prohibit and regulate.”