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Austria Economics Minister: ‘Europe Over-regulating Blockchain’

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Margarete Schramböck, the Austrian Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, has suggested that the country may buck European trends by leaving its blockchain technology sector unregulated.

Margarete Schramböck. Source: Parlamentsdirektion / Thomas Jantzen

Per a report from Austrian news outlet Trending Topics, Schramböck stated, “We don’t need blockchain regulations. […] Europe has a strong tendency to over-regulate. And then people are surprised to see that there are no European firms in the world’s top 10 [blockchain companies]!”

Schramböck was speaking at the ANON Blockchain summit in Vienna, an event that concludes later today.

The minister’s thoughts were echoed by Marta Piekarska, Director of Ecosystem at Hyperledger, who stated, “We don’t regulate technologies such as machine learning or C++” – sparking the question that if that were the case, why should blockchain be any different?

Schramböck’s comments appear to run contrary to remarks made last year by the head of the regulatory Financial Market Authority (FMA) Klaus Kumpfmüller, also reported by the same media outlet.

Kumpfmüller suggested that regulations for initial coin offerings (ICOs) could well be in the pipelines. The FMA submitted proposals for regulations to government ministries last year – although the fact that legislation has yet to materialize could suggest the government indeed has had a change of heart.

If Austria does decide to pursue a laissez-faire attitude to regulations, it may well find itself on its own in Europe. Recent government activities in France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Britain appear to suggest that fintech regulations are likely on their way in some form or another. Japan, meanwhile, is likely to push for an international consensus on blockchain and cryptocurrency regulations when it hosts the G20 summit in June.

The regulatory Financial Services Agency this week clarified its stance on requiring that cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan report suspicious transactions, per Crypto Watch.

Meanwhile, Tron last week announced that it will fall in line with regulatory requirements pertaining to Japanese gambling laws. Tron will move to ensure gambling dapps (decentralized apps) are kept off-limits to Japanese users and developers.