Category Archives: Irish Republic

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New Irish AML Bill Could Impact Crypto Adoption

New Irish AML Bill Could Impact Crypto Adoption

The Irish government has approved a bill which targets money laundering in the Irish Republic and makes reference to cryptocurrency as a source of terrorist funding.

The European Union’s (EU) directive on money laundering effectively gives Ireland the rights as one of its 28 members to enact amendments to existing Irish Law to counter money laundering and terrorist activity.
Despite extensive research demonstrating that cash is the major source of funding for terrorist activity, the Irish government bill proposes the EU addition to its AML laws.

The law will restrict any use of “virtual currencies for terrorist financing and limiting the use of prepaid cards” and also give the Irish police (Garda) the right to access personal bank records during any money laundering investigations. Minister of Justice, Charlie Flanagan, referred to the EU add-on but made no reference to cryptocurrency being used for illegal activity:

“The reality is that money laundering is a crime that helps serious criminals and terrorists to function, destroying lives in the process… Criminals seek to exploit the EU’s open borders and EU-wide measures are vital for that reason. Ireland strongly supports the provisions in the fifth EU money laundering directive.”

If the bill goes through there may be an impact on new cryptocurrency adopters in the Republic due to banks’ tighter KYC controls. The amended legislation is a reflection of the EU’s new stance on money laundering which gives member states rights to tighten controls and include cryptocurrency exchanges in AML regulations.

 

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Coinbase Continues Expansion with Eyes on Irish Republic

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant Coinbase has revealed that it is considering the Irish Republic as its next push to expand local markets around the globe.

Dublin has been cited as the exchange’s next target and to that end has already begun an employment drive in the city taking on customer support analysts, a compliance officer and an office manager.

The Irish state development agency, IDA, is currently supporting the Coinbase plan for the capital. This support is in keeping with IDA statements earlier this year which were very supportive of cryptocurrency.

The state body, IDA Ireland, is the agency responsible for the attraction and development of foreign direct investment in Ireland. Its new initiative, established by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group, an IDA Ireland-led forum, has been set up to involve Irish companies working with blockchain technology towards innovation and promotion of the republic.

Ireland currently has a very forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology. Recently, National University of Ireland (NUI) authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country.

Both IDA and Coinbase have declined to comment on the move, although it appears Coinbase has a clear strategy for Dublin, incorporating the local Coinbase Ireland Limited recently and installing four directors from the US-based parent company. However, an IDA spokesman commented recently before the move, that:

“We regard blockchain as an area with huge potential and we are seeing great interest among IDA Ireland’s client base. This initiative will enhance the blockchain industry in Ireland and our position as a global blockchain centre of excellence.”

It appears that IDA also sees the potential of extending this initiative to major players in the cryptocurrency sector, not a view shared by some of the country’s major banks. The Irish co-founder of Eircoin complained recently that he feels that the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) is discriminating against crypto-related accounts.

He praised IDA for their work on promoting cryptocurrency in Ireland while pointing an accusing finger at the BPFI and their continued accusations of the misuse of Bitcoin, which he suggested reeked of “regulatory capture”. He said it suggested that if Bitcoin sellers were involved in terrorist financing, the law would intervene, accusing banks of intervening where they did not belong.

 

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NY Firm Want to Change the Face of Crypto Mining with Moroccan Wind Farm

If plans come to fruition Morocco could become the location for one of the biggest blockchain-powering energy operations in the world.

Soluna the computing company that generates its own renewable energy has revealed plans to build a 900-megawatt wind farm south of Marrakesh suggesting that such a move may well significantly push crypto mining towards a far more sustainable era.

The site in Dakhla, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, by the Atlantic Ocean is known as a class 1 wind site with wind speed reaching higher than 22mph. The site covers 37,000 acres and should produce 900 megawatts as an off-grid operation.

Bitcoin mining has become a contentious issue with opposing view on each side of the ecological divide. Critics argue about the consumption of vast amounts of energy, often citing the Irish example to support their argument citing the entire network now consumes more power than the Irish Republic in its entirety. Digiconomist estimates that Bitcoin consumes more power than some countries, such as the Irish Republic, Chile, and Austria.

John Belizaire, CEO of Soluna, argues that this approach misses the point:

“Some have accused crypto miners of being extractive… In contrast, one of our core values is to invest in local economies. By building our own power and operating data centres, we bring investment dollars, create jobs, and (notably) don’t take away from the existing stock of energy to the local region.”

Soluna is backed by NY private equity firm Brookstone Partners which specializes in acquisitions and growth capital. One of their current projects is to convert wind energy into electrical energy for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency, being the cheapest source of energy available.

It is estimated that by the end of 2018 the Bitcoin network will be using over 125 terawatt hours per year. The issue here for many is its carbon footprint as the network is mostly fueled in China by burning coal, as this is a low-cost energy source.

Utility-scale renewable green energy sources such as the project planned for Morocco have enormous potential for the future if crypto mining continues to grow at its current rate.

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