One of the issues that generates the most concerns for bitcoiners and cryptocurrency users in general is the privacy of their data. Particularly, when they are related to your operations, transactions, profits and movements of your money.
On the other side of the ring, there are the authorities. Governments see bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as an avenue for all kinds of criminal activities to take place. Mainly money laundering or terrorist financing, even though this has historically been going on long before these digital assets were even an idea.
In this context, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been making recommendations to the governments of the world to keep a close eye on activities with cryptocurrencies.
One of the governments that has most recently adopted measures in this direction is that of Colombia, with the Financial Information and Analysis Unit (UIAF) establishing a regulation forcing local exchanges to share trading data of its clients, as we previously reported in this medium.
The discomfort among users is known, but this time we decided to press the opinion inside the exchange sites that operate in the South American country. CriptoNoticias talked about it with Alejandtro Beltrán, country manager in Colombia of Buda.com, an exchange of Chilean origin with a presence in other nations of the region.
Regulatory challenges and needs in Colombia
Beltrán goes a little further: he recognizes that the UIAF starts from a real need for any such unit in the world. “We understand that it is part of the concern [las actividades criminales]and more so in the Colombian context, where there is a culture rooted in crime, drug trafficking and money laundering,” he says.
Thus, considers it natural that, as a financial intelligence unit, the institution is applying measures such as this. But “the UIAF is taking the guidelines of the FATF international standards a little further. [Grupo de Acción Financiera Internacional cuyas recomendaciones moldean las políticas de los reguladores en el mundo».
Uno de esos elementos que parece excesivo es el límite (a la baja) para los montos de operaciones que se deben reportar. Según el directivo, ese mínimo (unos 150 dólares que equivalen a alrededor de 590 mil pesos colombianos) hace virtualmente imposible no reportar todas las operaciones.
En Buda.com los montos promedio por usuario oscilan entre el millón y los dos millones de pesos, comenta en contacto directo con CriptoNoticias. «Eso abarcaría casi todas las operaciones. Para nosotros es un monto bajo».
Preocupa la obligación de reportar todas las operaciones de los usuarios
En principio, Beltrán reconoce que el estándar internacional de medidas contra el lavado de dinero y financiamiento al terrorismo del GAFI hace «inevitable» para los exchanges hacer reportes sobre actividades de sus usuarios.
«No obstante, esta resolución 314 resalta que se deben reportar todas las operaciones de criptoactivos, generando varios aspectos que a nosotros nos preocupan», dice el representante del exchange.
Para Beltrán, la latencia de que todas las operaciones sean reportadas ante la UIAF generará que cada usuario «se sienta invadido en la privacidad de su información, entendiendo que él tiene la libertad de operar con criptomonedas o no». Esto podría traer un gran problema a la industria.
[Reportar todas las transacciones trae] stigmatization, desertion of users to informal or clandestine markets that expose them. And that would discourage the industry in terms of operations.
Alejandro Beltran, Country manager of Buda.com in Colombia.
The move could not only alienate regular cryptocurrency users from Colombian exchanges. Also, the specialist believes, this rigorous monitoring would impact the market in a negative way in another sense, which would collide with the intention of curbing crime.
“We believe that this may be counterproductive or that it is not effective and encourages the secrecy and informality of markets that do not want to declare this,” says Beltrán. For him, this would represent greater risks for users, who would be turning to unregulated markets with greater exposure to being victims of fraud or scams.
«[La resolución] can create these illegal and clandestine markets, which they will not be able to detect from the unit [la UIAF] if they do not have a flexible position regarding this”, concludes Beltrán in this regard.
Report suspicious or unusual activities
The most appropriate to fulfill the purpose of combating criminal activities would be to maintain another approach to tracking operations, considers the representative of the exchange: rreport suspicious or unusual operations.
Beltrán explains that he refers, in the financial context, to those operations that, “because of their amount and increases, lack reasonable legal and economic support.” This also includes transactions involving previously identified cryptocurrency addresses in connection with risky websites, for example. Those are the operations that are considered in every industry as reportable to the authorities, not only in the world of cryptocurrencies, he adds.
“Cryptocurrencies cannot be foreign, obviously if you want it to position itself institutionally and to generate acceptance mechanisms on the part of the State and the traditional industry. Base guidelines must be generated, because none of the exchanges want to be a base or be a channel to operate illicit activities. Nobody wants to be. These practices must be flexible to the extent that the basics are reported, the fundamentals, which is to say there is a suspicious or unusual activity that can be reported with the objectivity required by the international standard”
Alejandro Beltrán, country manager of Buda.com
In this sense, there are already certain guidelines for companies that operate with cryptocurrencies in the country. But, says the Buda.com member, the UIAF is going further. What Beltrán does clarify is that The institution has been willing to dialogue with the parties involved to address their concerns and reinforce the strategyas shown by the fact that have met recently with Buda.com and members of Colombia Fintech.
Beltrán emphasizes this provision, but warns that the corrections or revisions of the case must be made on time. In addition, he considers that one of the possible drawbacks, with the volume of trade that moves in Colombia, is the ability that the UIAF would have to review all that data that the exchanges would generate.
Those challenges regarding the capacity or not, says Beltrán, are under review by the institution. “They intend to open this possibility and we will try to make this friendly dialogue, understanding the role that the UIAF has but also the risks that these measures have.”