Argentine Central Bank starts to ‘hunt’ those who have Bitcoin

The Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA), the largest financial authority that governs the country’s monetary policy, ordered Argentine commercial banks to account for customers that carry out transactions with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

According to local news, the action of the Central Bank intends to start applying greater controls and regulations in the cryptocurrency market.

In Argentina, as in most of the world, there is still no regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. Now, the Central Bank wants to identify the customers who own the digital assets.

BCRA has sent a circular to local banks so that they can send information associated with customers who carry out operations with cryptocurrencies.

Request for information sent by the Central Bank to institutions. (Photo: Franco Amati @franamati).

Request for information sent by the Central Bank to institutions. (Photo: Franco Amati @franamati).

More controls and surveillance

Although critics of the measure classify it as a surveillance and control scheme for those who have cryptocurrencies, it is part of the regulation approved in May last year, which establishes restrictions on the use of foreign capital.

BCRA-related sources indicated that the measure is part of a study carried out by the institution on the legal frameworks needed to regulate trade with cryptocurrencies:

“As part of the process, banks were consulted to find out the volume and depth of the use or purchase of cryptocurrencies. It is common practice to ask banks for information on various topics of interest before proceeding with the drafting of regulations ”.

Businessmen in the sector said the move was expected in the face of the boom that cryptocurrencies are experiencing in the country:

“The global phenomenon of cryptocurrencies, together with their potential benefits and risks for economic systems, is something that is being debated in all organizations and global forums. As the genesis of any financial regulator must be evidence-based decision-making, the study and correct monitoring of the cryptographic world becomes fundamental, as the BCRA would be doing. ”

For critics and industry analysts, the measure falls especially on brokers, since they are the ones who have bank accounts from where they receive and transfer Argentine pesos for the commercial operations carried out by users.

Another aspect that also stands out is the possibility of anticipating excessive regulation by the Central Bank.

Although it is expected that the entity will want to monitor aspects related to commercial activities with cryptocurrencies, it can be risky that this translates into a restrictive control over who participates in this market, damaging the local ecosystem and motivating participants to act in more clandestine ways.

Regulation

“Regulation is imminent”, predicts a businessman in the sector, warning that the bill on the subject may be debated in the coming weeks.

The text proposes National Securities Commission as a supervisory authority and obliges cryptocurrency companies to be part of the Financial Information Unit (FIU). That is, report the source of funds from operations and their platforms.

But it gives the Central Bank the power to make “Financial monitoring of the activity” and inspect “Information about transactions with cryptocurrencies”, in addition to preparing impact reports and disclosing details about the operations.

The great fear of the executives of the sector is that it “kills the industry”.

“State pressure will make operations on P2P platforms (person to person), without any intermediary company subject to regulations and taxes and outside the radar of banks and authorities, grow strongly in the country and end the companies”.

That is, the hunt for bitcoiners in Argentina apparently can harm the industry, but not Bitcoin itself, which can be traded on P2P platforms, where the Central Bank cannot demand reports or control.

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