As anticipated, the European Council has decided to use the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing as its starting point for the possible regulation of virtual, digital and crypto-currencies; and the gathering and storage of information about bank and payment accounts.

In particular, in its press release of 12 February 2016, the Council:

UNDERLINES the importance of achieving rapid progress on legislative actions …, in particular in … the field of virtual currencies, [and] the strengthening of the access to … bank and payment account information, by Financial Intelligence Units [and]

CALLS therefore on the Commission to submit targeted amendments, based on proper analysis, to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) and if necessary to the 2nd Payment Services Directive as soon as possible, and no later than the second quarter of 2016…; [and]

URGES Member States to swiftly implement the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) package, aiming for implementation before the end of 2016 …..”

In its complimentary press release on the same issues, the European Commission said, “the first deliverable from the Commission’s side will be a targeted amendment on the 4th Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. By June at the latest we will propose measures to: have better control of payment forms such as virtual currencies and anonymous pre-paid cards; set up central registers or data-retrieval systems for bank and payment accounts; [and] proposing to set up central registers or data-retrieval systems for bank and payment accounts