Europe is not a region where cryptocurrency regulation appears to be a big issue. For now, the European Union, as well as the European Central Bank, have no real plans to change their hands-off approach when it comes to cryptocurrency. In Austria, however, it seems there is a growing demand for active cryptocurrency regulation.
The Austrian Finance Minister and Cryptocurrency
It has become apparent that the Austrian finance minister wants to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies moving forward. The big question when topics like these arise is how it will be achieved and whether or not it is even viable. The popularity of Bitcoin and altcoins should not be underestimated on a global scale. In fact, it seems this popularity is only increasing as time progresses.
To some financial industry players, the popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is perceived as a threat. This new form of money is attracting so much attention, it is only normal that government officials want to regulate this industry. Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Loger is one of those people who wish to introduce Bitcoin regulation sooner rather than later. He considers these currencies to be on the same level as gold and derivatives.
While this news does indicate there is no plan to ban cryptocurrencies in Austria, it’s not necessarily a positive development either. With warnings being sent out to the Austrian Central Bank, the National Bank, and the Financial Market Authority, it will be pretty interesting to see how all of these entities respond to this warning. Nothing new has been said other than that cryptocurrencies are a potential threat to consumers until proper regulation is put in place.
It is interesting to see Loger make a case that cryptocurrencies are a “valuable tool” in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. About a year ago, it seemed the entire financial sector was convinced Bitcoin and similar currencies would only facilitate these illegal activities. This mind shift among industry experts should not go unnoticed, as it shows that the true potential of Bitcoin is slowly coming to the surface.
Assuming Loger’s proposal is turned into law, classifying Bitcoin as gold and derivatives would certainly shake things up a bit. All cryptocurrency transactions worth EUR 10,000 or more would be subject to both AML and KYC procedures to ensure no illegal activity takes place. How this will be achieved remains to be determined. Exchanges and other service providers have already implemented such countermeasures, but doing so for individual on-chain transactions may be quite a challenge.
For the time being, it seems nothing will change in Austria anytime soon. The government is aware of cryptocurrency and that there is no actual regulation as of right now. Whether or not this means it will introduce such measures moving forward is difficult to predict. No real decisions are expected to be made prior to the summer, but things can change rather quickly when it comes to regulating this innovative form of money.