EU to tighten rules on cryptoasset transfers

Illustration of Ethereum
FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Ethereum is seen among representations of other cryptocurrencies in this picture illustration taken June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Illustration

July 20, 2021

By Huw Jones

(Reuters) – Companies that transfer bitcoin or other cryptoassets must collect details of senders and recipients to help authorities crack down on dirty money, EU policymakers proposed on Tuesday in the latest efforts to tighten regulation of the sector.

The law proposed by the European Commission, the EU executive, would apply what is known as the travel rule to crypto transactions to make them traceable.

The rule, which is one of the recommendations of the inter-governmental watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), already applies to wire transfers.

“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,” the Commission said in a statement.

A company handling cryptoassets for a customer must include the customer’s name, address, date of birth and account number, and the name of the person who will receive the cryptoassets.

The recipient’s service provider must also check if any of the required information is missing.

Providing anonymous crypto-asset wallets will also be prohibited, just as anonymous bank accounts are already banned under EU anti-money laundering rules.

“These proposals have been designed to find the right balance between addressing these threats and complying with international standards while not creating excessive regulatory burden on the industry,” the European Commission said.

“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.”

EU states and the European Parliament have the final say on the proposals, meaning it could take two years for them to become law.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Barbara Lewis)