The Netherlands wants to introduce a cryptocurrency licence monitored by the country’s central bank, according to a bulletin published in De Telegraaf.
The report does not give much detail – only that De Nederlandsche Bank would only award cryptocurrency licences to companies that identify their customers and report suspicious transactions. The report states that this is to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. The bill is currently in public consultation, meaning that people are invited to submit comment to the bank at this point.
Money laundering and terrorism financing are the key points of a new European Law – the fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The law is the first iteration to specifically mention cryptocurrency businesses. The sector is a weak point in terms of data gathering, which is a growing concern amongst many international bodies – the Financial Action Task Force, for example, recently criticised the UK for not monitoring it.
The law was passed in June 2018 and is to become national law for all EU members by 2020.
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Nederlandsche Bank has actually been interested in blockchain technology since at least 2016, when it announced the opening of its own development centre.
In January, the bank published its official opinion on cryptocurrency, which was that it was too small a field to endanger financial stability and that blockchain technology was not capable of handling the weight of a global financial network. It did reveal however that it had been working on blockchain projects. The bank was against enacting a national ban, saying that it would be difficult to enforce, but warned the Dutch to be careful where they put their money.
This was in a different time, of course – in November 2017, six people came to a Dutch court accused of laundering hundreds of thousands of dirty euros using Bitcoin.
More recently, The Block found that the Dutch city of Arnheim has the most Bitcoin-accepting businesses in the world in proportion to its population – 479 per million people. Second place was San Francisco with an incidence rate of 110 per 1,000,000.