Vancouver considering a ban on Bitcoin ATMs — which police say are ‘ideal’ for money laundering

Police have called Bitcoin ATMs “an ideal money-laundering vehicle,” and Vancouver’s mayor has even suggested a ban, but experts and businesses say federal regulation is what’s really needed to rein in a currently unregulated sector.

Unlike other money-service businesses such as automatic teller machines (ATMs) and payday loan companies like Money Mart, cryptocurrency ATMs are not covered by federal anti-money-laundering regulations.

The machines allow people who have cryptocurrency accounts to convert that digital currency into cash. While Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency, there are other types, such as Ethereum.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart went further at a May 28 council meeting, suggesting the city may try to ban the machines altogether. Currently, city staff are researching the issue and will report back in the fourth quarter of 2019, said Alvin Singh, the mayor’s director of communications.

B.C.’s local and provincial governments are paying closer attention to money-laundering vulnerabilities following the release of several government-commissioned reports that showed the province’s casino, real estate and luxury car sectors all have issues with dirty money.