12 Marzo 2018

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

On 12 February 2018, Mario Draghi (President of the European Central Bank) expressed the view that Bitcoin cannot represent a valid alternative to legal tenders. Mr. Draghi pointed out that Bitcoin would be better defined as a “speculative asset, which allows people to gamble for a gain, but with the risk of losing their entire investment”. In parallel, on the same day the main European financial regulators warned consumers that virtual currencies are not regulated by EU law. As a result, consumers buying virtual currencies will not benefit from any of the consumer protections applicable to regulated financial services. It is worth noting that the Italian National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange (“Consob”) has consistently considered investments in cryptocurrency as investments in a financial product and subject to the provisions of the Italian Consolidated Financial Act (see Consob Resolution no. 20207 of 6 December 2017). Specifically, Consob has considered certain investments in cryptocurrency as financial products, based on their specific features such as investment of capital, an expectation of a return on that investment and the assumption of risk.

Releated Post

Virtual currency and anti-money laundering

On 2 February 2018, the Italian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance published a preliminary draft of a decree (the “Draft Decree”) to implement specific provisions of Legislative Decree no. 231 of 21 November 2017 (as recently amended by Legislative Decree no. 90 of 25 May 2017) on anti-money laundering duties. The aim of the Draft Decree is to gather information on the scale of activity in the Italian market of services related to the use of virtual currencies, with a view to setting up a specific section of the trade register for virtual currency service providers to be maintained by the Italian ‘Agents and Credit Brokers Body’ (Organismo degli Agenti e dei Mediatori Creditizi). The Draft Decree provides for certain specific duties for virtual currency service providers, defined as “natural and legal persons providing to third parties, on a professional basis, services connected to the use, exchange and storage of virtual currencies, as well the conversion of those virtual currencies into or from currencies having the status of legal tender”. The relevant duties would include registration in the specific trade register section referred to above and reporting of activity to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance