The mayor of the Canadian city of Vancouver wants the council to ban the use of bitcoin (BTC) ATMs, following concerns that criminals are using the crypto-enabled automated teller machines to engage in money laundering.
Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart has cited police reports that there are a growing number of cases linked to money laundering that have ended up involving cryptocurrencies.
According to authorities and law enforcement agencies, it is easy for criminals to acquire bitcoin ATMs and use them for their own personal benefit.
A criminal would only need to spend “a few thousand dollars,” on an ATM and then use it to deposit laundered funds as many times as possible. The money launderers can then transact without paying transaction fees or raising suspicion as they deposit very small amounts of cash.
It is expected that the number of reports on digital currencies will hit 840 in 2019, more than three times in the same period last year.
In Canada, the push for a ban on bitcoin ATMs is very strong in Vancouver and Richmond, with both city councils said to be considering the move.
The province of British Columbia is also looking to take similar steps, although authorities there say more investigations regarding crypto usage in money laundering are required before any ban is considered.
Crypto ATM tracker CoinATMRadar shows that Canada currently has over 690 cryptocurrency teller machines. Vancouver has ATMs installed in 76 locations across the city.
Meanwhile, the use of crypto to launder money surfaced in Spain last month when Spanish authorities detained eight people suspected of laundering money via cryptocurrencies. The suspects split funds into small fiat amounts and deposited in an ATM before exchanging with crypto.
There has been an increase in Bitcoin ATMs across the world since Coinme first received a license from U.S. regulators to operate the teller machines. And recently, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) granted its BitLicense to BTC teller machine vendor Coinsource.