Best Bitcoin Exchange for Europe
Bitcoin and Blockchain, that’s the future. Contract processing via Smart Contracts. Cashless payment contact. A market that is fast, efficient, forgery-proof and fraud-proof. All this is to be guaranteed by crypto currencies such as Bitcoin. Distributed Ledger technology is an innovation for the financial sector and other sectors, as recently recognised by the EU. However, virtual currencies do not just offer opportunities. They also imply the danger of tax avoidance, money laundering and terrorist financing. That is why the EU now wants to tighten up its regulations. The following article explains what this means for the future of crypto-currency companies and thus for innovation.
Measures against terrorist financing
The EU-wide regulation of virtual currencies is part of the EU action plan against terrorist financing. Anonymity and efficiency make Bitcoin companies attractive transshipment hubs for terrorist financing. The war against tax avoidance, money laundering and terrorist financing is a priority of the EU Commission. Against this background, plans were made to expand the anti-money laundering laws. Although it was said as recently as January 2015 that no stricter regulation of crypto currencies was planned because there were no indications of their use to finance terrorism, this position is now outdated.
That’s what they say:
“In order to prevent the misuse of virtual currencies for money laundering and terrorist financing, the Commission proposes that platforms for trading in virtual currencies, as well as providers of fiduciary accounts, be subject to the Anti-Money Laundering Directive. These entities must carefully control their customers when these exchange virtual currencies to end the anonymity associated with such platforms.”
Bitcoin companies to be subject to Fourth EU Directive
Bitcoin companies should therefore be subject to the fourth EU directive in plain text in future. The so-called EU directives are a kind of to-do list for the EU member states. The fourth directive prescribes the following:
- Cash payments are only possible up to 7.500 € (before it was twice as much).
- Tax avoidance is considered a suspicious case that must be reported.
- The list of obligated entities has been extended to include the gambling industry, now also the Bitcoin companies?
- Committed entities include financial services providers, lawyers, notaries, brokers and casinos.
The duties of the Entities include:
- Customer identification and verification
- Monitoring customers’ financial transactions
- Reporting to the authorities if terrorist financing or money laundering is suspected
ECB calls for further tightening of rules
If Bitcoin companies are subject to the Fourth EU Directive, this in fact means EU-wide regulation of crypto currencies. Providers should provide self-declaration forms. However, this step is not yet drastic enough for the European Central Bank. It took position to the demands of the European commission and requests the European Union to the tightening of the regulations. It is criticised that the EU proposal only refers to the conversion of the digital currency into real money. However, the Commission completely ignores the fact that it is now also possible to purchase goods and services directly using digital currencies. The ECB therefore warns in general against promoting them.
Bitcoin companies migrating?
What sounds like a sensible approach to the fight against terrorist financing may in reality mean the end of the Bitcoin industry in the EU. The term “fiduciary wallets” affects almost every company in this sector, as they manage accounts with virtual currencies on behalf of their clients. However, it is highly questionable to what extent customers are prepared to fully verify the use of online wallets or Altcoin exchanges. Waving this proposal through from Parliament and the Council of the European Union would lead to the strictest regulatory regime in the world.
Although many Bitcoin companies have already complied with the anti-money laundering rules before, platforms that do not take appropriate measures would no longer be allowed. As a result, these platforms are faced with two alternative scenarios: Close or leave the EU. Countries such as Switzerland, Panama and Canada would welcome them with open arms and control by the EU would no longer be possible. This might not lead to a solution to the problem, but rather to a relocation. The goals of more security for customers, more information for supervisors and more revenue for tax offices could ultimately be thwarted. Finally, compliance with the stricter rules would be less attractive for many companies.
What is Europe today?
The points presented so far help us to understand how “Europe” was seen in history and what its central elements are. But they cannot be criteria for determining today’s understanding. All these dimensions, including religious ones, have an important historical significance; they make us understand why we are in the constitution we are in today, but they are not normative. It is therefore necessary to consider what Europe can do today.
It is clear that this cannot be a geographical definition. The fact that the attempt to define the continent by its physical borders cannot work has already been shown by looking at history, where for a long time the Mediterranean was understood not as the southern border of the continent, but as the link between the coasts. But even in the north and west it is not much better: is Iceland a part of Europe? Greenland belongs geologically to North America, but politically to the continent through its connection with Denmark – but can the world’s largest island really be seen as part of Europe? The most difficult thing, however, is the demarcation of Europe from the East: none of Europe’s traditionally stated Eastern borders is convincing. The Bosporus divides Istanbul into two parts – but it is a city, not half a European city and half an Asian city. The Black Sea and the Caucasus cannot be defined geographically either, and the Urals, which is commonly referred to as the eastern border of Europe, has come to this function mainly because it stretches almost straight from north to south – but in fact it is not a mountain range separating the continents, but rather a low mountain range; outside its subpolar part there are only a few elevations above 1,500 metres above sea level.
There is therefore little point in trying to define Europe by means of geological conditions. But if one takes cultural space as a criterion, numerous other problems arise. In terms of civilization, Russia practically does not differ in its European part from its Asian regions. “Europe” therefore extends as far as the Sea of Japan. It is no coincidence that the idea of “Eurasia” has been so influential in Russian intellectual history. And can Israel not also be described as European? One would also have to ask the question in relation to Australia. So there is a European space (not understood in the concrete sense) that goes far beyond the continent and can be found in different regions of the world. Australia has not gone through the historical processes of the old continent, such as the formation of cities, the emergence of citizenship, the self-constitution of society, etc., but it is a society that is guided by European values, in which the European way is determined by the community, and which thus stands in the European tradition.
If we continue to think in this direction, we have an idea of Europe as a conglomerate of values, lifestyles and behaviour. A geographical classification is not necessary for this, nor is it a state. It is therefore conceivable that there might be areas, regions or simply places that belong to “Europe” because this conglomerate is realised in them. This could even be said for those forms of thinking that cannot be spatially limited. “Europe is not a place, but an idea,” is a famous phrase of the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. But then Europe can actually be everywhere. It is, as it were, an attitude that feeds itself historically on traditions that have arisen and/or grown in Europe and develops them creatively.
This is not changed by the fact that we very often understand Europe in the sense of the political unification project. It is often equated with the European Union, although no one should doubt that non-members such as Norway or Switzerland also belong to Europe. However, this understanding of Europe is pragmatic and therefore limited. It works (more or less well) as long as it is about shaping politics and making and enforcing concrete decisions. However, it cannot be the basis for an idea of how Europe should be shaped. Rather, it requires such an idea itself. It is a factual description, but not a project for the future. Such an idea must always be newly conceived and developed on the basis of the continent’s traditions.