Though the allegations of money laundering have been imposed regularly on Bitcoin, this is perhaps for the first time that the Switzerland’s financial market regulator, FINMA (the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) shown concern. The organization says the virtual currency Bitcoin needs to be treated as a serious medium for illicit activity like money laundering.
The FINMA believes that Bitcoin’s ability to be used anonymously and internationally increases the risk it could play a role in terrorist financing. Though the regulator has been cautious in its approach to Bitcoin, earlier it had granted first Bitcoin Trader license to SBEX. The decision was made earlier last year and the organization did not see any problems with that.
However, later on in June 2014, the Swiss regulator asked Swiss exchange Bitcoin Suisse to suspend operations of its network of automated teller machines pending enquiries about its operations. It had held a two-month consultation period that wrapped up last month and will incorporate that feedback into the revision of its Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance.
Bitcoin in Switzerland
Though FINMA is showing concern over the misuse of Bitcoin in money laundering and other contraband activities, the idea of the digital currency is still very much in existence in Switzerland. Bitcoin is still acceptable in the country that has an impressive 71 Bitcoin friendly merchants, with the largest concentration to be found not in the capital, but in Zurich.
One thing that goes well for Bitcoin in Switzerland is that the country is not a party of EU; thus, it does not need to bother about the guidelines and warnings issued by the central bank of EU. The country also saves itself from the wrangling between the various EU states of late. Also, the latitude offered by their neutrality has allowed them to come to a far more rapid conclusion than their neighbors.
For instance, Bitcoin, according to FINMA remains, despite ‘growing interest,’ ‘relatively insignificant and thus not worthy of specific legislation.’ Nonetheless, the latest statement that regulators must also see from the view point of misuse of Bitcoin in money laundering sends wrong signals among the stakeholders in the country.
However, this must not be construed as a warning for Bitcoin companies as the regulator is not going for clamp down. This sounds more as a regular warning for the people who are involved in Bitcoin transactions than anything else.
To contact the reporter of this story: Deepak Tiwari at firstname.lastname@example.org