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The International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is expected to work with Japan, the second largest crypto-currency market after the US, to introduce uniform crypto-currency regulations in the coming months.

Japan concerned about anonymous crypto currencies

Last month, the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) encouraged the G20’s leading economies to adopt a unified policy on crypto exchanges and investors, worried by the increasing use of anonymous crypto currencies such as Zcash, Dash and Monero by criminal groups.

On May 14, Japan’s most influential and oldest newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun, reported that the Yakuza, who have coexisted with the Japanese government and police since 1600 because of their deep roots in Japanese history, used the three anonymous crypto currencies mentioned above to launder money generated by their illegal drug deals.

A covert investigation by Mainichi Shimbun revealed that a criminal syndicate within the yakuza has laundered more than 29.85 billion yen worth some 273 million dollars since 2016, initiating hundreds of transactions on Japan’s widespread crypto exchanges. As a result, a FSA spokesman said:

“It should be seriously discussed whether a registered crypto exchange can use such currencies. It is a typical money laundering program. Somehow I am not surprised. If you do something illegal, everyone knows you’re using the three anonymous variants.”

The official further stressed that the Japanese government alone could not restrict the use of anonymous crypto currencies by large criminal syndicates and suggested that the G20 countries cooperate in implementing uniform crypto currency regulations.

“It is almost impossible for Japan to solve the problem on its own. Even if trade is limited to domestic transfers or surveillance is strengthened, it is still not enough to combat money laundering. It would be best if all 20 developed and emerging countries and regions (G20) took the same steps towards prevention.”

Uniform rules possible

This week the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced that it intends to hold talks on binding crypto currency regulations to ensure that all exchanges operating in leading markets such as Japan, South Korea, the US and Europe comply with international regulations.

The FATF serves 37 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, which account for more than 62 percent of global net assets. Therefore, if the FATF agrees on a single crypto currency regime, it is likely that all 37 countries subject to the FATF will adopt identical rules.

Japan has already established a licensing program for crypto currency exchanges, and the South Korean government has announced its plans to regulate crypto platforms similarly to banks and to offer licenses for platforms that comply with local financial regulations.

Reuters reported that the Japanese tax authorities have expressed optimism about working with governments in Europe and the US and are preparing to shape crypto currency regulations in the coming months to address the increasing incidence of hacker attacks, security breaches, money laundering and Know Your Customer (KYC) problems.

What does this mean for Bitcoin and other crypto currencies?

Despite the recent SEC statement that Bitcoin and Ethereum are not securities, the market remains turbulent. We reported yesterday on the forecast of the hedge fund manager, who predicts a Bitcoin price of $60,000 in 2018. He emphasized that the current lack of entry opportunities for traditional institutions is particularly significant. A possible sensible uniform regulation could reduce these barriers and facilitate entry.

Personally, I believe that once a firm regulatory framework is in place, the already announced institutions such as Goldman Sachs, NYSE and other Wall Street giants will dare to enter the market. This could have a significant impact on prices, and it must also be borne in mind that Bitcoin’s offer is very limited.

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