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France Declares War on Crypto Anonymity, Cites 'Terrorism' in KYC Mandate

The French finance ministry is imposing sweeping KYC rules on all VASPs in the country.

Dec 9, 2020 at 8:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:41 a.m. UTC

The French Ministry of Finance unveiled sweeping know-your-customer (KYC) requirements on all cryptocurrency companies operating in and servicing the country on Wednesday, a move that could ultimately strip the French crypto space of any semblance of anonymity.

All virtual asset service providers must immediately begin checking their customers' identities, verifying "beneficial owners" and prohibit anonymous crypto accounts, according to the press release from Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

He called the action a necessary step in France's fight against terrorism. The press release invoked a terrorist cell that apparently financed itself with crypto until its dismantling in September 2019. "We must drain the euro from all terrorist financing channels," Le Maire declared in a tweet.

Massive new KYC requirements appear to be France's first volley in a wider broadside against anonymity in crypto. The finance ministry said it is also preparing "new regulatory provisions" to fast-track "digital identification solutions" for crypto transactions.

"This demand, which emanates from players in the ecosystem, will make it possible to fight against the anonymity of transactions in digital assets while facilitating the identification of users," the ministry said.

The Block first reported France's KYC plans Tuesday.

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