The ministry of finance in Austria has said that it plans to regulate Bitcoin and other digital currencies as it did with gold and derivatives. The ministry also stated that it hopes the European Union does the same. This has come during a time when regulators across the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the decentralized nature and immutability of Blockchain transactions. This has seen many people prefer them because they say it makes them ideal tools for money laundering among others.
Hartwig Loeger who is the finance minister in Austria stated that he believes that the rules currently controlling precious metals and derivatives will be good in enabling the government in preventing cryptocurrencies from being used to launder illicit funds. According to Loeger:
‘Digital currencies are significantly becoming important in the fight against money laundering and also terrorism financing. That is an important thing for the changes we support. All we need is more trust and more security.”
The minister went on to state that ICOs should be treated as securities which would require the operators to register with financial supervisors and continue to seek regulatory approval before the process of accepting regulations start. Loeger also said that it would be good for EU to organize an international regulatory framework on digital currencies. The minister is also planning to discuss the matter with the finance minister of Portugal.
This attention from Austria’s regulators comes after reports emerged that Austrian based scheme called Optioment had fleece more than 10,000 investors more than 12,000 BTC which was worth more than $122 million at current rates.
Already many governments are taking action, and a good example is France whereby its financial regulators have put an online trading platform on notice that all cash settled digital currency derivatives must fall under the government oversight and should comply with the existing regulations.
More to that the UK parliament is also conducting an inquiry to understand both the benefits and risks of cryptocurrencies as well as the Blockchain technology.