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EU to introduce crypto-assets regime by 2024

The EU are planning on introducing new rules within four years to make cross-border payments quicker...

The European Union (EU) are planning on introducing new rules within four years to make cross-border payments quicker and cheaper using blockchain and crypto assets like stable coins, according two EU documents. 

The European Commission is due to set out its strategy for encouraging greater use of digital finance at a time when 78% of payments in the euro zone are in cash. They are also focusing on a rapid shift to “instant” payments, generally as pandemic lockdowns showed the growing role of cashless payments. 

The EU executive will present a draft law to clarify how existing rules apply to crypto assets and set out new rules where there are gaps, as stated by the documents 

“By 2024, the EU should put in place a comprehensive framework enabling the uptake of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and crypto assets in the financial sector,” the documents additionally said. “It should also address the risks associated with these technologies.” 

Stable coins, a type of cryptocurrency often backed by traditional assets, leapt onto policymakers’ agendas last year when Facebook revealed plans for its Libra token. Central banks are now considering whether they too should launch their own. 

Brussels also wants to make it easier to share data within the financial sector to encourage competition and a wider range of services, while upholding the principle of “same risk, same rules, same regulation”, the documents say. 

The bloc should also have rules in place within four years to allow new customers to start using financial services quickly once anti-money laundering and identity checks have been completed, it said. 

“By 2024, the principle of passporting and a one-stop shop licensing should apply in all areas which hold strong potential for digital finance,” it said. Instant payment systems should become the “new normal” by the end of 2021. 

Instant payments are suitable for many uses beyond traditional credit transfers, for physical and online purchases, which are currently dominated by payment card schemes, the documents said. 

Europe has long sought “home grown” alternatives to the likes of MasterCard and Visa, the U.S. payments firms heavily used in the region. 

The Commission will assess the impact of charges levied on consumers for instant payments and could require that they are no higher than those for regular credit transfers. 

Reported by Huw Jones 

Sourced Reuters 

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