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Parliamentary questions
9 August 2018
E-003290/2018
Answer given by Vice-President Dombrovskis on behalf of the European Commission

Crypto-assets and their underlying blockchain technology can be useful for financial markets but they also present clear risks.

Potential money laundering and terrorist financing threats have been addressed by extending the scope of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive to virtual currency exchanges and wallet providers.(1)

At the request of the Commission, the European Supervisory Authorities have issued warnings about the speculative market environment and other risks associated with crypto-assets(2), pointing to the fact that crypto-asset investment is high risk and that investors may incur substantial losses due to the volatility of these assets, but also due to the lack of market transparency and integrity as well as through operational weaknesses of crypto-asset service providers and trading venues.

Crypto-assets show dramatic price swings and more than 1 600 different crypto-assets are currently recorded on popular services that track them. The Commission notes assessment by the Financial Stability Board, according to which, due to their relative small market-size and isolation from the established financial system, crypto-assets do not, for the time being, present a financial stability risk. Depending on their growth and the development of more transmission channels into the regular financial system, this may change in the future. The Commission is following developments in this important area.

(1)Directive (EU) 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, and amending Directives 2009/138/EC and 2013/36/EU. — OJ L 156, 19.6.2018, p 43-74 — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2018.156.01.0043.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2018:156:TOC
(2)Warning to consumers on Virtual Currencies. European Banking Authority, document reference EBA/WRG/2013/01 — https://eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/598344/EBA+Warning+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf; European Banking Authority Opinion on Virtual Currencies — document refererence EBA/Op/2014/08 — https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf; the European Securities and Markets Authority alerts investors to the high risks of Initial Coin Offerings — document reference ESMA50-157-829 — https://www.esma.europa.eu/sites/default/files/library/esma50-157-829_ico_statement_investors.pdf; the European Securities and Markets Authority alerts firms involved in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to the need to meet relevant regulatory requirements — ESMA50-157-828 — https://www.esma.europa.eu/sites/default/files/library/esma50-157-828_ico_statement_firms.pdf; the European Securities and Markets Authority, the European Banking Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority warn consumers on the risks of Virtual Currencies — 12 February 2018 — https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/2120596/Joint+ESAs+Warning+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf

Last updated: 9 August 2018Legal notice