Crypto exchanges could soon face potentially crippling international regulations that will significantly reduce customer anonymity.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), tasked with developing policies to combat money laundering, plans to provide guidelines on June 21st on how its member countries should regulate digital assets, a FATF spokesperson told Bloomberg.
The intergovernmental agency creates recommendations on how governments can fight money laundering and financial terrorism, and past guidelines have been adopted by more than 180 countries. Among the new recommendations, the FATF now reportedly wants to require crypto exchanges and asset managers to gather information on any customer initiating a transaction greater than $1,000.
Eric Turner, director of research at crypto insights firm Messari, says the guidelines’ teeth will be dependent on how member countries interpret and apply them, and represent “one of the biggest threats to crypto today.”
“Their recommendation could have a much larger impact than the SEC or any other regulator has had to date.”
The chief compliance and ethics officer at the Seattle-based crypto exchange Bittrex, John Roth, says the recommendations run counter to the principles of blockchain technology, and compliance will be expensive and extremely difficult to implement.
“It’s either going to require a complete and fundamental restructuring of blockchain technology, or it’s going to require a global parallel system to be sort of constructed among the 200 or so exchanges in the world. You can imagine difficulties in trying to build something like that.”
Jeff Horowitz, the chief compliance officer at San Francisco-based Coinbase, says the regulations could also send customers scurrying away from exchanges.
“I get why the FATF wants to do this. But applying bank regulations to this industry could drive more people to conduct person-to-person transactions, which would result in less transparency for law enforcement. The FATF really needs to consider the many unintended consequences of applying this specific rule to [Virtual-Asset Service Providers].”
The FATF conducts evaluations on how well the member countries implement its guidelines, and it can blacklist non-compliant jurisdictions. Blacklisting can seriously hamper a jurisdiction’s ability to participate fully in the international financial system.