Distributed ledger technologies between anonymity and transparency: AML/CFT regulation of cryptocurrency ecosystems in the EU

Pocher, Nadia (2023) Distributed ledger technologies between anonymity and transparency: AML/CFT regulation of cryptocurrency ecosystems in the EU, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Law, science and technology, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10659.
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The advent of Bitcoin suggested a disintermediated economy in which Internet users can take part directly. The conceptual disruption brought about by this Internet of Money (IoM) mirrors the cross-industry impacts of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs). While related instances of non-centralisation thwart regulatory efforts to establish accountability, in the financial domain further challenges arise from the presence in the IoM of two seemingly opposing traits: anonymity and transparency. Indeed, DLTs are often described as architecturally transparent, but the perceived level of anonymity of cryptocurrency transfers fuels fears of illicit exploitation. This is a primary concern for the framework to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation (AML/CFT/CPF), and a top priority both globally and at the EU level. Nevertheless, the anonymous and transparent features of the IoM are far from clear-cut, and the same is true for its levels of disintermediation and non-centralisation. Almost fifteen years after the first Bitcoin transaction, the IoM today comprises a diverse set of socio-technical ecosystems. Building on an analysis of their phenomenology, this dissertation shows how there is more to their traits of anonymity and transparency than it may seem, and how these features range across a spectrum of combinations and degrees. In this context, trade-offs can be evaluated by referring to techno-legal benchmarks, established through socio-technical assessments grounded on teleological interpretation. Against this backdrop, this work provides framework-level recommendations for the EU to respond to the twofold nature of the IoM legitimately and effectively. The methodology cherishes the mutual interaction between regulation and technology when drafting regulation whose compliance can be eased by design. This approach mitigates the risk of overfitting in a fast-changing environment, while acknowledging specificities in compliance with the risk-based approach that sits at the core of the AML/CFT/CPF regime.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Pocher, Nadia
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
distributed ledger technologies; blockchain; anti money laundering; anonymity; transparency; cryptocurrency; disintermediation; compliance by design; regulation by design; risk-based approach
Data di discussione
31 Marzo 2023

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