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Regulation Coming: U.K. Ministry of Treasury Wants Bitcoin Use De-Anonymized

The Ministry of Treasury in the United Kingdom — Her Majesty’s Treasury (HRM) — has begun exploring ways to make the use of cryptocurrency exchanges in the nation just like the use of bank accounts: non-anonymous.

That’s according to new comments from Ministers in the Treasury Committee, who told Telegraph journalists Gordon Rayner and Robert Mendrick that crypto exchange users in the U.K. would soon be needing to “disclose their identities and report suspicious activity.”

The administrative goal for the Treasury, then, will be to ensure U.K. customers can’t easily turn to cryptocurrencies as a vehicle for money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist funding.

That’s per Stephen Barclay, the Treasury’s current Economic Secretary, in a recent write-up on explaining the rationale for this new albeit not surprising regulatory attitude:

“The UK government is currently negotiating amendments that will bring virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation, which will result in these firms’ activities being overseen by national competent authorities.”

The crux of the matter, then? These traditionally-minded politicians can’t get past the anarchic possibilities that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies open up.

Can BTC and other cryptos be used to launder money? They can. But so can dollars, euros, and pounds.

The Treasury’s regulatory near-sightedness is regrettable on this basis, as it hyper-focuses on possible criminal activities when the vast supermajority of U.K. crypto investors are precisely that — investors.

Labor Party Minister John Mann tempered the latest “crackdown” news with softer rhetoric, saying the Treasury needs to get on top of the situation before mass adoption can take place:

“It would be timely to have a proper look at what this means. It may be that we want to speed up our use of these kinds of things in this country, but that makes it all the more important that we don’t have a regulatory lag.”

TLDR: Her Majesty’s Treasury is looking at ways to de-anonymize Bitcoin use in the U.K. so that users can’t use crypto exchanges anonymously anymore. 

William M. Peaster is a cryptocurrency journalist and copy-editor based out of Pensacola, Florida. He’s an avid fan of Ethereum, ERC-20 tokens, and smart contracts in general.

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