EU’s Crypto Activism Gets Mixed Reception at Paris Blockchain Week

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The crypto sector is still reeling from a string of votes in the European Parliament that some warned could prove regulatory overkill, attendees at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit discovered Wednesday.

Recent EU plans to curb the energy footprint of proof-of-work technology – which some feared could amount to a bitcoin ban – failed to get through the European Parliament when voted on in March. But a second, also controversial, anti-money laundering measure did pass and could now become law if governments also sign up.

Under a planned expansion of existing banking measures known as the travel rule, parties facilitating crypto transactions would have to identify participants. 

EU lawmakers want that to apply even for the smallest payments or those made to unhosted wallets, where the asset is held by a private individual rather than a regulated exchange.

Proponents, including lead lawmaker Assita Kanko, have argued the travel rule will help cut crime, and have previously told CoinDesk it could be a spur for innovation in a sector that prides itself on creativity.

“If the banking sector, that the crypto people think is actually boring and old, is surviving the travel rule … why would the very chic, cool crypto people not be able to do so?” she told CoinDesk shortly after the measure was voted through her committee on March 31. “They could work it out…. I guess I'm telling them to try.”

But in Paris, some point out that the existing rule, which requires institutions like banks to report any dodgy-looking payments to the authorities, doesn’t work well even in the conventional financial sector – and is even worse suited to blockchain-style tech.

The rules would mean crypto exchange providers must “provide a full report to the authorities … when they see an unhosted wallet is involved, without even considering the threshold,” Hedi Navazan, head of compliance for Crystal Blockchain, told attendees Wednesday.

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