The Central Bank of Italy has published three directives on virtual currency, as reported by Bitcoin Magazine.
The directives contain some key points indicating a relatively positive stance toward Bitcoin. Unlike in Russia where the use of virtual currencies has been (periodically) banned, Italy makes a point to state otherwise:
“In Italy the purchase, use and acceptance of virtual currency must be considered lawful activity: the parties are free to transact in amounts not expressed in legal tender.”
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In addition, financial institutions are allowed to deal in virtual currencies, just that they are advised to wait until formal regulations are announced. The best known counterexample is China, where a crackdown starting 14 months ago prohibited financial institutions and payment processors from such dealings, causing panic in bitcoin markets.
Furthermore, dealing in virtual currency does not require a business or exchange to employ AML/KYC procedures, which contrasts with FinCEN requirements in the US. In Italy, the standard AML/KYC procedures already in place for bank accounts would still have to be followed.
The Financial Intelligence Unit does warn that virtual currencies can be used for money laundering and terrorist financing, as already discussed by the European Central Bank (ECB).
Potential complications may arise if Italy’s stance becomes incongruous with that of the broader European Union (EU) or other member states. The EU has been deliberating on regulation for quite some time with little progress to date. The matter has taken lower priority and may be complicated by the differing interests of individual states.