International

MasterCard Takes On Bitcoin Down Under

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MasterCard has asked Australian lawmakers to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency exchanges exactly the way it does other payments operators — complete with anti-money-laundering and consumer protection features, according to Finextra.

In a letter submitted to the Australian Senate Economics Committee, the payment-card brand argued that all payments-system participants should be regulated in the same way, and said “consumer protection, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and payments system stability should be cornerstones of any regulation of electronic payments — including digital currencies.” The letter specifically names Bitcoin and Ripple.

The Nov. 28 MasterCard letter was one of 31 submissions to the legislative inquiry.

In the letter, MasterCard division president Eddie Grobler said digital currencies currently don’t offer consumer protections such as chargebacks when a buyer pays for something that then isn’t delivered, and that the value of digital currencies fluctuate so widely that they represent a consumer risk. The block chain process is also inadequate for keeping digital currencies secure, Grobler wrote.

MasterCard called for licensing and regulation of all digital currency operators that’s comparable to the requirements for non-bank money transmitters, including obligations to maintain Know-Your-Customer and anti-money-laundering programs and to file suspicious activity reports, along with setting up consumer complaint processes.

The card brand also listed actions taken to regulate digital currencies by other jurisdictions, including the European Banking Authority, Russia, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the New York Department of Financial Services.

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