New Netherlands Regs Could Ban Foreign Crypto Firms

cryptocurrency tokens

There are many forms of nationalism. Ethnic nationalism. Cultural nationalism.

Now comes cryptocurrency nationalism?

We are being a bit tongue in cheek here, but perhaps just a bit.

Coindesk reported this week that, in the Netherlands, cryptocurrency firms based outside of Europe may “get the boot” amid new regulations.

Legislation in place before the Dutch House of Representatives will mandate that companies in the Netherlands tied to the crypto realm will need to register with the central bank. Foreign companies, according to the report — in other words, those that are registered outside of the European Economic Area — will not be allowed to offer services in the Netherlands. In the report, DNB (De Nederlandsche Bank) spokesperson Tobias Oudejans said the move is tied to anti-money laundering (AML) activities, where all financial firms operating in the Netherlands must register with the government.

Proponents say the moves by the central bank and intended by the legislation are good for an industry that has yet to, well, see a lot of regulation. In an interview with the publication, PJ Datema, founder of Crypto2Cash, said “bad actors” will be cleared out as a result of the policies, and this may help move the cryptocurrency industry toward maturity.

“It’s a really nice step. I’m not saying they are embracing crypto. [But] we are finally moving forward after a long period of silence,” Datema said. “It’s good they are taking action. If we want the market to mature and the participants to evolve … you want anti-money laundering and proper know your customer [KYC],” he said.

The bank has said that relevant firms must register by Jan. 10, 2020 if they wish to continue to operate there. To be clear, the Netherlands does not recognize cryptos as currency.

But latest news, i.e., that of the legislation that rests with the Netherlands legislative body, begs a few questions:

The barring of firms outside Europe, from providing services inside the Netherlands may hint at a level of trust that the bank wants to engender through supporting local companies, serving local needs, in a local currency.

As the central bank has said: “Once a firm is registered and we have assessed board members and other policymakers, we will monitor that it complies with the rules on money laundering and terrorist financing. Firms that do not register will no longer be allowed to provide crypto exchange services and wallets.”

And yet, the legislation, should it become official, means that things will get complicated quickly for the foreign cryptocurrency firms that want entrance into that market, or even have been working (at a level once removed, so to speak) with local companies. Would it follow that cross-pollination efforts would be truncated?

Also, note that the Netherlands mandates would be a way to follow the Anti Money Laundering Directive (AMLD 5) that looms across Europe, and which also becomes official on Jan. 10. Using the method of blocking foreign firms from coming into the market — it’s worth noting that the central bank, through its spokesperson, did not say if foreign companies will have to set up local offices — may set precedent for other countries. It may not be far-fetched to think that closed-door policies would lead to further fragmentation in an already fragmented industry.

If nationalism is defined as support for one country’s interests over those of another, that seems to be at work here. Here, the independence of tech firms born and bred and operating in the Netherlands is being promoted via central bank policy. We’ve entered a digital age of separatism as defined by digital coins.


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