Ireland to enforce AML checks for digital currency firms from April

Ireland will impose anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) requirements for digital currency firms starting April 2021. With the new regulations, the Irish central bank will have more oversight over the industry.

Buyers and sellers of digital currencies will no longer be able to transact anonymously, local daily Irish Independent reports. Digital currency firms, also known as virtual asset service providers (VASPs), will now have to complete due diligence on their clients. This is after the European nation adopted the EU’s Fifth Anti Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD).

5AMLD is the EU’s latest legal framework for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. While it launched in 2018, the EU gave its members until January 2020 to implement it. Ireland was months late in adopting it, finally doing so in August last year. However, regulators had yet to enforce it for VASPs.

Starting in April, VASPs will have to register with the Central Bank of Ireland for AML and CFT checks and have to convince the regulator that these checks are satisfactory before they can be allowed to offer their services. The new law also gives the regulator more oversight over the industry. As the newspaper notes, the watchdog can now block or revoke senior appointments at VASPs. It can also decide on what enforcement measures to take if it determines that a VASP hasn’t fulfilled all its requirements.

Ireland is the latest European country to adopt 5AMLD, a regulatory framework that has proven controversial, especially for digital currency firms. It has forced some small firms to shut down, such as Dutch-based Bittr, a BTC trading platform. The operator, Ruben Waterman, revealed that he had been running the platform on his own. However, 5AMLD requires every VASP to have a dedicated compliance officer, forcing Waterman to shut down the service.

Most in the industry have expressed support for the framework nonetheless. Dr. Craig Wright is among them, with the nChain Chief Scientist stating that the framework will finally stamp out the Crypto Crime Cartel. Dr. Wright believes that once all EU members adopt 5AMLD, there will be nowhere to hide for corrupt and illegal outfits like Binance.

In Ireland, the adoption of the 5AMLD could also bring great benefits, a local fintech expert believes. Josh Hogan, the co-chair of the FinTech & Payments Association of Ireland claimed that this could rid the industry of criminals and allow it to thrive.

In a recent op-ed, he stated, “Ireland has the opportunity to take advantage of its well-earned reputation in both finance and technology to position itself as the leading jurisdiction in which to establish an EU-regulated crypto-services business. This will ultimately bring real commercial benefits in terms of jobs, business revenues and taxes.”

See also: CoinGeek Live panel, Digital Currency & Global Compliance: Tools & Tips for Exchanges, Wallets & Other Service Providers

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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