The European Commission is to extend anti-money laundering rules to the entire crypto sector as part of a wider overhaul of financial crime safeguards.
The package of legislative proposals includes the creation of a new EU authority to fight money laundering and a single EU rulebook to provide a consistent and harmonised framework for tackling financial crime across member states.
The measures recognise the emerging challenges linked to technological innovation, with the crypto sector a particular focus for rule-makers.
At present, only certain categories of crypto-asset service providers are included in the scope of EU AML/CFT rules. The proposed reform will extend these rules to the entire crypto sector, obliging all service providers to conduct due diligence on their customers.
The Commission says the 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.
In addition, the document states that anonymous crypto asset wallets will be prohibited - a notion that has since been widely debunked as unenforceable and misleading, as nearly every crypto wallet is anonymous by default. More likely, the Commission is referring to the provision of anonymous services from third party custodians or exchanges, rather than the provision of software for self-custody.
Back in the real world, limits on hard cash payments are also to be harmonised, with the Commission proposing an an EU-wide ceiling of €10,000.
In addition, existing national registers of bank accounts will be connected, providing faster access for FIUs to information on bank accounts and safe deposit boxes. The Commission will also provide law enforcement authorities with access to this system, speeding up financial investigations and the recovery of criminal assets in cross-border cases.