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European Union Legislators Move to De-Anonymize Bitcoin Use in the Bloc

Is a cryptocurrency crackdown coming to the European Union (EU)? It’s beginning to feel that way as European Parliament (EP) legislators just updated the 2015 “Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive” to include provisions mandating stricter oversight of cryptocurrency use in the EU bloc.

To be clear, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency use in general isn’t being banned in the EU member states, but the new legislative updates are geared around de-anonymizing Bitcoin use in Europe.

That is because the modified Directive now mandates that cryptocurrency platforms and cryptocurrency wallet clients have to record, and reveal if necessary, users’ identities.

That fact alone will be enough to have European Bitcoiners antsy, in the very least. Libertarian investors certainly aren’t going to be happy.

Unfortunately, the whole episode isn’t necessarily surprising. Leaders who spearheaded the new language of the update cast the move as driven by concerns over terrorism and crime — tired and overstated critiques of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Per Věra Jourová, European Union Commissioner for Justice:

“Today’s agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing.”

Countries who mounted opposition to the new, stricter regulations included fintech-reliant hubs like:

  • Britain
  • Cyprus
  • Ireland
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta

And beyond de-anonymizing users, other updates to the 2015 Directive include:

  • new restrictions on using pre-paid debit cards to buy cryptocurrencies
  • new transparency criteria for organizations (funds, companies) buying crypto
  • new accessibility to exchange records for domestic investigators
  • new accessibility to information on the beneficiaries of crypto-based trusts

Altogether, then, European Union cryptocurrency users are going to be coming up against these new restrictions in the coming weeks. Will it be enough to seriously slow the FOMO (“fear on missing out”) frenzy that’s seemingly sweeping every continent right now?


TLDR: The European Parliament — the legislative body of the European Union — just updated a 2015 Directive that is going to de-anonymize Bitcoin use in the E.U. 


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

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