Vancouver, home to the world’s first Bitcoin ATM, could see a reversal in its fortunes and see the city stripped of all its machines as the city tries to grapple with the ramifications of its hands-off approach to cryptocurrency. According to Vancouver paper The Star, even the mayor has spoken out against the presence of Bitcoin ATMs, while the Vancouver Police Department has in the past called Bitcoin ATMs “an ideal money-laundering vehicle.”
The Star quotes Christine Duhaime, a Vancouver lawyer who advises companies on how to avert financial crime, as saying “Vancouver definitely has connections to, unfortunately, digital currencies being used for nefarious purposes.” This has been previously noted by the Vancouver Police Department, who noted in 2018 and again in February this year that cryptocurrency was being used for nefarious purposes, including laundering money gained through criminal enterprise through ATMs as well as vulnerable people in the city being targeted by scammers impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or police, pressuring them into paying “unpaid taxes” by depositing the money into a Bitcoin ATM. The money of course arrives into the scammer’s account a short while later.
Bill Delay Creates Opportunity
Canada actually passed a bill to regulate cryptocurrency as a digital money service business in 2014, meaning that any companies wishing to transmit or convert cryptocurrency had to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). However, due to the vagaries of the Canadian legislation system the bill was never brought into force, and criminal elements have made the most of the lapse.
The authorities are now seemingly keen to push ahead with enforcing C-31, which would see anti money-laundering/know your customer (AML/KYC) regulations brought in for Bitcoin ATMs, or could see the machines removed entirely. American Bitcoin ATM users found out the hard way just how inconvenient AML/KYC regulations can be when they had to jump through several hoops to use newly installed Coinstar machines in January this year.