EU’s crypto activism gets mixed reviews at Paris Blockchain Week

Key Takeaways:

  • A Paris Blockchain Week Summit from 13-14 April 2022.
  • Various topics were raised including PoW mechanism, wallet tracing, travel rule, etc.

Following European Parliament decisions that some worried would result in regulatory overkill, a crypto-focused gathering was hosted in Paris. EU initiatives to reduce the energy footprint of proof-of-work technologies were thwarted. But a second, also controversial, anti-money laundering measure did pass.

Those attending the Paris Blockchain Week Summit on Wednesday discovered that the crypto sector is still reeling from a flurry of votes in the European Parliament that some feared would amount to regulatory overreach.

Recent EU initiatives to limit the energy footprint of proof-of-work technology, which some thought would imply a ban on bitcoin, were defeated in the European Parliament in March. However, a second, similarly contentious anti-money laundering bill was passed and may potentially become law if enough states sign-on.

Under a planned expansion of existing banking laws known as the trip rule, parties supporting crypto transactions would be forced to identify participants. Legislators want this to apply to even the smallest payments or unhosted wallets where the asset is maintained by a private individual rather than a regulated exchange.

“If the banking industry, which the crypto people think is actually dull and old, is surviving the travel rule… why would the very chic, cool crypto people not be able to do so?” she told CoinDesk immediately after the measure was voted through her committee on March 31. “They might be able to figure it out…. I guess I’m telling them to try.”

However, others in Paris argue that the existing norm, which requires institutions such as banks to disclose any suspicious-looking payments to authorities, doesn’t operate well even in the traditional financial sector – and is far worse suited to blockchain-style technology.

The move could lead to “bombarded” financial intelligence units with suspicious activity reports.

The EU’s approach also fails to recognize that transparent blockchains allow payments to be traced, according to Navazan, and may force exchanges to forgo transactions with unhosted wallets entirely. However, some have expressed alarm over far-reaching consequences.

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Baisakhi Mishra