EU to expand controls on virtual currencies to fight terrorism

In an effort to combat terrorism after the Paris attacks, the European Union (EU) will increase controls on virtual currencies, prepaid cards and money remittances.

EU justice and interior ministers came together Friday at a crisis meeting in Brussels to persuade the European Commission (EC) to "strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards," according to a draft conclusions of the meeting obtained by Reuters.

The EU ministers reportedly agreed to tighten checks for payment methods, such as Bitcoin, that could be used by extremists to make payments anonymously and also asked the EC to present proposals on how to establish these checks.

The ministers also expressed a commitment "to ensure a swift and effective freezing of terrorist assets throughout the Union," and are currently conducting risk assessments on payment methods that could potentially be used for money laundering and to finance extremists, according to the report.

The EC met on 17 November to assess the role that virtual currencies play in financing terrorism and stated "the use of virtual currencies will be subject to particular attention, as requested by the European Council of 26th January, 2015,” the Commission said in a release.

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