EU to step up checks on Bitcoin, prepaid cards to fight terrorism

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will propose by the end of June stricter rules on prepaid cards and virtual currencies in a bid to reduce anonymous payments and curb the financing of terrorism, documents released on Tuesday showed.

Responding to attacks in Paris last November by Islamic State militants, the Commission is also considering imposing controls on bank transfers within the EU that are currently not monitored through the controversial EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP).

“We must cut off terrorists’ access to funds and enable authorities to better track financial flows to prevent devastating attacks such as those in Paris,” EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement.

Brussels intends to curb terrorists’ use of all means of payments, including cash and banking transactions, but will initially focus its regulatory work on prepaid cards and virtual currencies, of which Bitcoin is by far the most used with more than 80 percent of the market capitalization.

“There seems to be a risk that virtual currencies may be used by terrorist organizations to conceal financial transactions, as these can be carried out more anonymously,” a Commission document said.

Prepaid cards raise the same sort of concerns as their users are not

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