EDCAB addresses European Parliament hearing on virtual currencies

The European Parliament's influential Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) held a public hearing on virtual currencies on 25 January 2016. EDCAB's founder, Siân Jones, was one of three stakeholder experts invited to address Members of the European Parliament (MEP). Other experts invited included representatives of the European Commission, OECD and academia.

The hearing enabled MEPs to canvas views and ask questions as they prepare their own initiative report on virtual currencies. ECON is scheduled to vote on the report - which is likely to include proposals for a resolution to be put to Parliament - in April 2016. 

MEPs raised questions concerning a range of topics relating to virtual currencies and distributed ledger technology including systemic risks, taxation, consumer protection, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Citing reliably-sourced data on money laundering from several multi-national and Member State sources, Ms Jones reported that "virtual currencies account for something considerably less than 1/100,000th of 1% of global money laundering".  She drew on information from EU institutions to compare the supply of high-denomination Euro banknotes with virtual currencies, and concluded that "the Euro is at least 92 times more likely to be used in money laundering than virtual currencies."

The European Parliament is one of three institutions exercising legislative functions of the European Union. The other two are actively working on regulating virtual currency exchanges and wallet providers with the European Commission currently preparing legislative amendments to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive and the 2nd Payment Services Directive, and the Council of the EU calling for rapid implementation of the new measures.

Brussels-based EDCAB is in dialogue with MEPs, all branches of the Commission, and the relevant agencies and supporting institutions in order to help shape a sound regulatory & policy agenda for virtual currencies and distributed ledger technology. Among several events EDCAB is organising, it is staging a expo inside the parliament building, directed at all 751 MEPs, around the time legislators are due to vote on virtual currencies. 

EDCAB members will be able to watch the entire public hearing, including MEP's questions and the responses. 

Copies of Ms Jones' statement to ECON are available on request.

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