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Italy is Studying a Decree to Regulate Cryptocurrencies

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Public consultations on a new regulatory regime for cryptocurrency companies in Italy have been closed. Interested parties have been invited by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to share suggestions and comments on a draft decree introducing registration and communication obligations in the sector. The new rules will come into force within 3 months of adoption.

A decree to regulate cryptocurrencies

The ministerial decree should “explore and understand the various aspects of the phenomenon of virtual currency”. The legal document, aimed at implementing updated Italian laws and “reinforced” against money laundering, was published by the DEF Treasury Department on 2 February. Stakeholders had two weeks to express their views and propose amendments.

In May 2017, the Italian government issued another decree requiring “suppliers of services related to the use of virtual currency”, such as exchanges, to fulfill their obligations to prevent money laundering and illegal encryption transactions. The new document introduces additional responsibilities for encrypted businesses. They will have to report their activities to the Ministry of Finance.

The text of the proposed decree clarifies that although cryptocurrency is used as a “medium of exchange for the purchase of goods and services”, it is not issued by a central bank or other public authority. The incorporated disclaimer also states that the digital currencies “are not necessarily linked to a currency that has legal tender”.

Cryptocurrencies, trades and traders to be registered

The new notification regime will also be applicable to commercial companies that accept cryptocurrency payments for goods, public services. The Ministry wants to conduct a survey starting with the determination of the number of operators in the sector. At the beginning of the activity, each company must register with the Italian OAM Intermediaries Agency to operate legally in the country.
The Treasury Department has already completed a preliminary assessment of the technical specifications for the registry, the Ministry of Finance said in a press release. The new regulatory regime will be launched within 3 months of the entry into force of the decree. Its implementation responds to the need of understanding the new phenomenon and its dimensions, said Roberto Ciciani, Head of the Directorate  for the Prevention of Financial Crimes.

A regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies

The regulators stress that the revised Italian regulatory framework will comply with the latest EU anti-money laundering directive – 5MLD, which introduces stricter rules to prevent financial crimes. The previous directive was adopted in Italy on May 25 last year.

The use of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies by individuals remains largely unregulated in Italy. However, in the parliament a law was introduced requiring the identification of parties in cryptographic transactions. In 2016 the Inland Revenue stated that purchases and sales of cryptocurrency are exempt from VAT. With some limitations, personal cryptographic holdings and gains from transactions do not generate taxable income.

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