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EU needs to consider bitcoin regulation, ECB's Nowotny says

The European Union must consider regulating bitcoin due to the risk of money laundering, according to ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny, Reuters reported.

Bitcoin rose as much as 70% in the week beginning Dec. 4, exceeding the $17,000 mark before plummeting to $15,600. Its futures jumped more than 20% to a high of $18,700 in their U.S. debut Dec. 10, the newswire said, adding that the significant increases have drawn concern from central bankers who fear that they will face criticism if the unregulated market were to crash.

Nowotny said it was necessary to discuss "whether and in what form regulations are needed," noting that while even small banks are subject to strict money-laundering controls, large bitcoin transactions proceed without similar checks, Reuters said.

Nowotny, who also serves as governor of the Austrian central bank, also called on the country to at least match German regulations, noting that Austria seemed to be attracting companies selling bitcoin because it is relatively easier to get an operating license in the country.