Austria may regulate cryptocurrencies

Austria May Regulate Cryptocurrencies Using Gold, Derivatives as Model

Austria is seemingly joining a growing list of countries that are planning to regulate cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). In Austria’s case, the rules that currently apply to the trading of gold and derivatives, may also apply to the crypto space as well.

This according to the country’s finance minister, Hartwig Loeger, who revealed Austria’s primary concern is curbing the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering – a crime also seen in the precious metals business.

As such, the country would extend regulations governing precious metals and derivatives trading, in an attempt to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used by criminals to launder money.

Hartwig Loeger was quoted as saying:

“Cryptocurrencies are significantly gaining importance in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. That’s an important aspect for the changes we support. We need more trust and more security.”

Outlining the measures Austria plans to implement, Loeger revealed that cryptocurrency market participants will have to identify all trading parties, and disclose any trades above €10,000 ($12,300) to the government financial intelligence unit.

Loeger noted that trading platforms should be supervised by the country’s Financial Market Authority (FMA). He added that ICOs should essentially be treated as securities. This means that operators would be required to register “digital prospectuses” with financial watchdogs, and seek regulators’ approval before distributing the tokens.

Given the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies, Loeger added that these measures shouldn’t just be applied in Austria, but also in the European Union. He revealed that he plans on discussing the issue with Portugal’s finance minister Mario Centeno later this week.

Move comes as Austria investigates bitcoin scam

Loeger’s statements come at a time in which the Austrian government looks for suspects of an alleged bitcoin scam. A company dubbed Optioment reportedly took roughly 12,000 BTC, worth over $120 million, from over 10,000 investors.

Companies potentially affected by Loeger’s move are Austria-based HydroMiner, which seeks to use the country’s hydropower facilities to mine cryptocurrencies, and a trading platform dubbed Bitpanda.

As covered by Core Media, regulators in France are also looking to regulate the cryptocurrency space. The country’s stock market regulator, AMF, revealed that platforms offering cryptocurrency derivatives can’t advertise online, and that these derivatives should be subject to the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID 2).