A new trade body designed to aid regulatory understanding of virtual currencies has been launched in response to increased government interest in Europe.
The Brussels-based European Digital Currency & Blockchain Technology Forum (EDCAB) is a public policy platform for digital currencies and distributed ledger technologies. It also co-organised an industry expo for policymakers in the European Parliament from 18 to 21 April 2016.
Virtual currencies have rapidly risen up the European policy agenda in all the major institutions:
- The Council of the European Union put virtual currencies at the top of a list of targeted areas for rapid progress at its February 2016 meeting, and has called for legislation to be tabled by the end of June 2016.
- The European Parliament is preparing its own initiative report on virtual currencies, with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs scheduled to vote on the report on 25 April 2016. Additionally, the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection is also considering the issue later in April.
- The European Commission has been considering regulation of virtual currencies through its Action Plan and proposals to combat terrorist financing, with legislation ready for the end of June 2016.
EDCAB aims to shape the regulatory and policy agenda for virtual currencies and distributed ledger technology in Europe, with EU policymakers, legislators, regulators, and law enforcement in mind. Membership is open to businesses, non-profit organisations, think tanks, academic and research institutions, and anyone with an interest in virtual currencies and distributed ledger technology. Discussions at the April expo focussed on: ‘Virtual currencies: The future of money’ which laid out how Europe’s economy might benefit from public and private alternatives to government-issued currency; ‘Blockchain: Trusting distributed ledgers’ which explored how technology might improve trade, economic prosperity, governance and the lives of citizens; and ‘Regulating virtual currencies and blockchain: A balancing act’.