Wednesday 21 February 2018

EU to curb anonymous payments in bid to fight terror

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Julia Fioretti and Ines Kagubare

The European Commission yesterday proposed stricter rules on the use of virtual currencies and prepaid cards in a bid to reduce anonymous payments and curb the financing of terrorism.

Virtual currency exchange platforms will have to increase checks on the identities of people exchanging virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, for real currencies and report suspicious transactions.

Under the Commission's proposals the threshold for making anonymous payments with pre-paid cards was lowered to €150 from €250. "Member states will be able to get and share vital information about who really owns companies or trusts, who is dealing in online currencies, and who is using pre-paid cards," EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.

Following attacks in Paris last November by Islamic State militants the EU executive said it would step up measures to cut off terrorists' access to funds.

French authorities have proved that pre-paid cards were used by the Paris attackers.

Prepaid cards are issued by a wide range of operators including banks using major networks, such as Visa and MasterCard. They are different from debit and credit cards because they need to be loaded before payments can be made, but can carry substantial amounts of money.

MasterCard said it supported the Commission's objective of strengthening the security of prepaid cards while ensuring that people less well-off could still use them.

The proposed controls "are important in tackling black market and terrorist financing", said Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, which represents the accountancy sector. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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