EU warned against ‘restrictive’ crypto red tape before bloc readied for clampdown

Bitcoin fraud: Victim discusses ‘warning bells’

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The European Parliament will vote today on how the bloc should regulate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Reports in recent days have suggested the bloc is preparing to clamp down on crypto amid concerns about its unregulated and volatile markets. Under a proposal first put forward last year by the European Commission, crypto firms such as exchanges would have to obtain, hold, and submit information on those involved in transfers. This would make it easier to report suspicious transactions, freeze digital assets, and discourage high-risk transactions, according to Ernest Urtasun of the Spanish Green Party.

Cryptocurrencies do have some support however, including from Conservative MP Matt Hancock.

He told that he would “consider” investing personally in Bitcoin, and accused the EU of being too restrictive when it came to the technology.

Asked if cryptocurrencies could play a role in a post-Brexit economy, he said: “Yes. We now don’t have to just take the EU’s restrictive regulatory regime and instead can design our own that is more dynamic.”

Mr Hancock, a former Government minister, also explained why he thinks the technology can “revolutionise” the way the British economy operates.

He said: “Crypto assets are already disrupting investment vehicles, but the opportunities are much greater, for example to use crypto currencies as a means of payment, so for the first time in history payments can be made directly from one person to another through neither a bank nor physical cash.

“The underlying technology of the blockchain on which crypto is built has a wide range of uses, in terms of secure contracts and greater transparency.

“For example, some UK Aid money is paid using these contracts so you can track where the money goes.”

Mr Hancock did admit to having concerns about crypto, meaning the technology does need to be regulated to a certain degree.

He continued: “There does need to be a regulatory approach, for example to ensure adverts are not misleading, and to ensure the exchanges are sound and don’t rip people off.

“A regulatory regime should be liberal, so that people can freely buy and sell crypto assets, but provide that underlying assurance that the markets are fair.”

The UK Government appears to be embracing the idea of crypto, as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak asks the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token, or NFT.

NFTs usually take the form of digital images, and are bought and sold for large sums of money in a similar fashion to how art is traded.

When an NFT is bought, the buyer owns the link to the image as proof of ownership.

The Treasury said on Twitter this week: “This decision shows the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK.”

Mr Sunak has said it is his ambition to make the UK a global hub for cryptoasset technology through close oversight of the emerging sector.

He said: “We want to see the businesses of tomorrow – and the jobs they create – here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term.”


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Finance expert at the University of Sussex, Carol Alexander, believes NFTs “will be everywhere” in the future.

She told in January: “The public attention went on to NFTS. They are going to be everywhere. Once the public realised this, they became very interested in the technology.

“In the future, everything that requires proof of ownership is going to be an NFT.

“I think it’s that realisation that made the market get excited about that technology.”

The world of NFTs isn’t without its detractors though.

One reason for scepticism is similar to the suspicions surrounding Bitcoin – that NFTs are speculative assets with an unregulated market.

Like crypto, there are also environmental concerns due to the energy used for transactions.

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