Report: Canadian Finance Watchdog Has Concerns Over Blockchain Anonymity

Canada's financial intelligence agency has concerns over the anonymity of blockchain technologies, a report says.

Sep 5, 2017 at 6:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:53 a.m. UTC

Canada's financial intelligence agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), has concerns over the role of cryptocurrency in crime and policing problems caused by the tech's anonymity, according to a new report.

The Globe and Mail reports that, citing FINTRAC documents and presentations (obtained through a public records request), officials have been saying for some time that the agency needs to develop new technologies to better analyze the financial data produced by the growing adoption of blockchain technologies, which operate under a cryptographic "veil of anonymity." 

Money laundering is seen as a particular area of concern, and the article points out that Canada's anti-money laundering regime has been criticised by a Canadian Senate committee and the international Financial Action Task Force.

However, FINTRAC indicates that, by analysing cryptocurrency address and other traces, individuals making transactions can to some extent to be profiled.

One of the agency's reports is quoted as saying:

"Under these systems, users operate pseudo-anonymously, leaving behind various data (e.g. cryptocurrency addresses) that can be used to link a transaction to an individual, particularly where users are not careful to obscure their identity."

FinTRAC spokesperson Darren Gibb is reported as saying that his agency will respond to the need to address new threats posed by cryptocurrencies.

"Research may identify the need to cover new entities or administer new reporting requirements to address any emerging money laundering or terrorism financing threats to the Canadian financial system from transactions and entities that are currently not covered," he said in an email.

Magnifying glass image from Shutterstock

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