The president of the European Central Bank has called for greater regulation of BTC, after linking its use to global criminality and money laundering, according to reports.
ECB chief Christine Lagarde said the digital currency was increasingly being used by criminals worldwide to cover their tracks online, and for laundering money beneath the detection of the authorities, Reuters reported.
Due to the largely anonymous nature of transactions, Lagarde said criminals were relying on BTC and patchy regulation to move illegitimate money without oversight or supervision.
As a result, she called for more urgency around global regulation of the sector and more of an effort to develop common standards, to prevent criminals from abusing digital currencies as a backdoor to money laundering and other nefarious activities.
Highlighting the “funny business” going on in BTC markets, Lagarde described cryptocurrency criminality as “totally reprehensible.”
“(BTC) is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity.”
While BTC remains largely unregulated across much of the world, global standards have been gradually emerging. The most notable example has been in anti-money laundering, with exchanges and other crypto services now adhering to standardized AML requirements.
The news coincides with a rally in BTC prices in recent months, spurred on by an increasing mainstream interest in BTC tokens. This has led to further calls for regulation worldwide, amid fears that more speculators could end up losing all of their money.
Combined with soaring rates of fraud and concerns over money laundering and other criminality running through BTC, Lagarde said the time for light touch regulation of the digital asset was over.
“There has to be regulation. This has to be applied and agreed upon…at a global level because if there is an escape that escape will be used.”