The launch of Bitcoin futures trading has inevitably put cryptocurrencies in the spotlight of mainstream financial institutions.

While the Chicago Board Options Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange will be credited for pioneering the first ever futures marketplace for Bitcoin, major decisions are being considered by government and organizations worldwide.

European Commissioner position

Last Friday, Reuters reported that EU states had agreed to implement stricter rules on the use of cryptocurrencies. With an eye on cracking down on money laundering and tax evasion, the efforts are calling for more transparency from exchange operators. European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said:

“Today’s agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing.”

In an interview with RT, former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon insists that the European Union decision to tighten up regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges is mainly being done to protect the interests of big banks.

MI5 former officer reaction

Analyzing the situation, Machon said it’s like any other knee-jerk reaction, as old ways and new collide:

“I think we have a situation where any new form of technology on the internet, we’ve seen this for the last 30 years, that challenges the business models of established businesses is going to be cracked down on by governments, by international organizations to try and protect the old business models.”

“And we have seen it again in the attack on the old business model of the old media where piracy became the new threat and they tried to use laws to stamp that out. I think that is inevitable, if we have something that decentralizes the money supply and threatens the business model of the banks, of course, there’s going to be pushback against it.”

Criminals use banks as well

Machon conceded that criminals would inevitably use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies - but that doesn’t stop them from using banks either. Using that is an easy excuse to infringe on people's privacy, according to the former MI5 official:

“Any crackdown on our rights of privacy on the internet always has an excuse that it is trying to stop money laundering or trying to stop terrorism or pedophiles or whatever. I think, probably the vast majority of users of Bitcoin are doing it legitimately, they just have a legitimate concern to uphold their right to privacy as well.”

It is commonplace for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to get a bad wrap from past associations to dark web marketplaces. But as Machon reminds us, some banks hands are dirty as well:

“Yes, sure, criminals are going to use this, but criminals already use banks. So many banks have been caught out money laundering on vast scales and have received vast fines for laundering gray and black money from particularly the drug trade. Perhaps, we should say that the EU should close down our banks, too.”