Banks should avoid bitcoin and other virtual currencies for now, EU regulator warns

Gigaom

Europe’s top banking regulator has warned European lawmakers and the union’s national financial regulators that they should discourage banks and other payment institutions from dealing in bitcoin and other virtual currencies — for now at least.

Unlike in China, this is not an outright ban, but the opinion does carry a lot of weight. The European Banking Authority (EBA), which has already warned consumers that they have little protection if they dabble in virtual currencies (VCs), said on Friday that the use of such currencies carries many risks, and requires a swathe of new legislation if it is to be properly regulated. In the meantime, it said, regulated financial services should avoid crossing paths with the virtual currency world.

That’s not to say the EBA saw no upside to currencies like bitcoin; it noted the potential advantages of faster, cheaper transactions and greater financial inclusion. However, it said the…

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