Business

Ed Drake

Vancouver mulls ban on Bitcoin ATMs over money laundering fears

Vancouver was once held up by the cryptocurrency community as a pioneer of crypto ATMs. But it appears that the authorities have just as swiftly fallen out of love with the machines, amid reports an outright ban is under consideration.

The city is currently home to some 76 terminals, where anyone can buy Bitcoin Core (BTC) directly from a self-service ATM.

According to law enforcement in Vancouver, a ban would bring an end to a reported surge in criminal use of the machines, including implications in high-level money laundering throughout the city, The Star reported.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said a ban may be one of the only options left to bring this criminal wave to a halt. City officials will now conduct further research and consultation on proposals before moving closer towards a final decision.

Vancouver is the third most populated destination for crypto ATMs in Canada, with both Toronto and Montreal home to significantly more terminals. Should Vancouver move towards banning the terminals, it is likely other cities would follow, to stem the tide of criminal usage and crypto fraud.

The move is the latest crackdown from authorities in Vancouver over what they see as the scourge of crypto ATMs.

Proposals for a city bylaw were passed at a motion of the council recently which would demand verification of both sender and receiver details for every ATM transaction. Further proposals would require all ATMs to carry prominent warning labels, informing users about the most common Bitcoin scams and frauds.

It follows a report from local police back in February in which crypto ATMs were identified as “highly-effective” tools for money laundering, in the absence of any ID requirements from those sending and receiving funds through the machines.

The report also said the police expect a further 300% rise in instances of this type of criminality this year, on top of a 350% rise in 2018, with crypto fraud in particular an increasing challenge for law enforcement agencies.

As the first city to host a crypto ATM, Vancouver’s rejection is symbolic of the growing concerns around BTC-related crypto fraud.  

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