DRAFT OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on virtual currencies (2016/2007(INI))

Stefano Capaccioli

The European Parliament is studying Virtual Currencies (VCs):

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection calls on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:
1. Points out that the virtual currency (VC) industry and VC technology are in a nascent state;
2. Recognises the potential benefits associated with VCs for consumers, businesses, charities and the economy at large, which include greater speed and efficiency and reduced costs in making payments and transfers, in particular across borders, and potentially promoting financial inclusion;
3. Acknowledges that VCs could present risks in relation to criminal activities such as money laundering and tax fraud; notes, however that there is little evidence that VCs have been widely used as a payment vehicle for criminal activity;
4. Recognises that persons seeking wealth preservation may use independent currencies such as Bitcoin at times of depressed interest rates or as a safe harbour during times of economic instability;
5. Points out that it is difficult to predict how VCs might develop and to identify any potential specific longer-term policy responses while not stifling innovation;
6. Calls on the Commission to consider the contribution of VCs to all sectors, including their role in the development of the digital single market, with a view to ensuring that legitimate businesses in the VC sector are allowed to thrive;
7. Stresses the importance of consumer awareness when using VCs while noting the growing use of VC micropayments for online purchases of goods; calls on the VC industry, in cooperation with the Commission and the Member States, to develop voluntary standards and to address the opportunities and challenges of VCs for consumers with the aim of enhancing the transparency of VC schemes in terms of how they are organised and operated and how they distinguish themselves from regulated and supervised payment systems, in terms of consumer protection, in order to allow existing and future VC users to make an informed choice.


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