Senator Warren proposes stricter crypto regulations

Crypto rules proposal aims to curb anonymity and illicit activities.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill in the US to tighten cryptocurrency regulations, designed to combat the potential use of crypto in money laundering and other illegal activities. The proposed Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act would extend existing anti-money laundering (AML) laws and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations to various entities in the digital asset space. 

Under the proposed bill, MSBs, crypto exchanges, wallet providers, miners, and validators must verify their clients’ identities and report suspicious transactions. This requirement reflects the current duties of traditional banks. 

Additionally, the legislation mandates identity verification for specific large peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions that take place through unregulated intermediaries or originate from unhosted wallets not associated with a regulated service.

Senator Warren highlighted the urgency of the bill by stating

“Rogue nations like Iran, Russia, and North Korea, which has emerged as one of the world’s most prolific crypto-criminals, stealing $1.7 billion in digital assets in 2022 alone, have turned to digital assets to evade sanctions and fund illegal weapons programs.”

Supporters of the bill argue that extending anti-money laundering standards to digital assets will create safeguards for states and users alike. However, some critics believe that regulating the traditionally decentralized crypto ecosystem could compromise the anonymity and privacy that are hallmarks of cryptocurrency.

The crypto community counters this view by claiming the transparency and traceability of crypto transactions on public blockchains could improve the detection of illicit funding compared to cash transactions.

While total funds laundered globally likely amount to trillions of dollars each year, fueling organized crime and terrorism, the proportion attributed to crypto is relatively tiny. According to the Chainalysis Crypto Crime Report 2023, it stands at approximately 0.24%, a fraction compared to cash.

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