On Friday, the European Banking Authority (EBA) issued a statement warning consumers of certain dangers in using Bitcoin and similar cryptographic payment systems (so-called Crypto Coins or even Currencies). Apparently prompted by recent significant price increases of predominantly Bitcoin but also Litecoin, Feathercoin and other such crypto coins, the sudden increase in virtual currency trading, and the fact that virtual currencies are constantly in the mainstream media headlines, the regulators are quoted as saying:
“Consumers should be aware that exchange platforms tend to be unregulated and are not banks that hold their virtual currency as a deposit. Currently, no specific regulatory protections exist in the EU that would protect consumers from financial losses if a platform that exchanges or holds virtual currencies fails or goes out of business,” the EBA bureaucrats said in a statement.
Obviously meant to primarily be a “warning against” using Bitcoin, this statement is, upon closer scrutiny, a great pre-Christmas gift in disguise for the steadily growing worldwide Crypto Coin community. The statement reveals the official view of European officials to, quite surprisingly, give a nod of approval to Crypto payment systems like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Feathercoin and all the other similar payment systems.
The EBA statement has a similar effect as some — initially wrongly reported — statement by China that banned Chinese commercial banks from using Bitcoin but, at the same time, defined use for private individual as perfectly legal in the country and stating an official hands-off approach to Bitcoin by the Chinese government.
In admitting that all crypto coin-related businesses and services like exchanges or merchant service providers and similar are “unregulated”, that they are “not banks”, and that “no specific regulatory protections” existed for them in EU countries, the EBA gave de-facto blessing to that unregulated status quo. This gives all sorts of Bitcoin businesses worldwide a strong incentive to move their operations to Bitcoin-friendly countries within Europe, some of which — like Sweden, Germany, Austria, the U. K. and, to a lesser extent, even expensive Norway — are particularly suitable due to their individual regulatory situations, property prices, and/or overall features of their local legal systems, business culture and similar aspects.
On the back of Friday’s announcement, now is the time for any Bitcoin business seeking more certainty for their operations to cease the new opportunity and extensively go Forum Shopping in Europe.