ECB Official Calls for ‘Less Tolerant’ Approach to Bitcoin ‘Gambling’

Fabio Panetta's remarks come as EU lawmakers consider measures to end anonymous crypto transactions and cut off unregulated exchanges.

AccessTimeIconMar 30, 2022 at 3:24 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 30, 2022 at 4:09 p.m. UTC

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

Policymakers should take a "less tolerant" approach to technologies like Bitcoin, the European Central Bank’s Fabio Panetta said Wednesday, citing the high energy needed to generate new coins.

The comments come as European Union lawmakers are expected to pass controversial proposals that could outlaw anonymous crypto transactions and cut off unregulated exchanges from the financial system, which they are due to discuss Thursday.

“It would be ideal from a social viewpoint to intervene and have a less tolerant approach towards these activities,” said Panetta, who is a member of the ECB’s executive board, to a meeting of the European Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee. He said, bitcoin-type activities were “pure gambling, wasting enormous amounts of energy.”

The crypto assets are “not used for payments, do not pay any dividend” and have “no economic activity behind them,” he said. “They have no social role.”

“The difficulty is how to intervene with this,” he said. “It certainly would require a coordinated international effort.”

His remarks came in response to a question from socialist EU lawmaker Eero Heinäluoma of Finland, who said that Russia was accepting bitcoin (BTC) “as a tool to circumvent sanctions.”

Just two weeks ago, lawmakers on the committee narrowly voted against measures that could have imposed restrictions on currencies such as bitcoin due to the environmental impact of the proof-of-work technology it uses.

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Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Jack Schickler is a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.