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European Banking Authority halts bitcoin banking

Opinions on the virtual currency bitcoin have been mixed, from enthusiastic evangelists to skeptical authorities, and everything in between.

Now the European Banking Authority has taken a stance, Bloomberg reported Friday, ordering banks not to buy, hold or sell virtual currencies until financial authorities find a way to regulate them.

“It’s imperative to move quickly on this issue,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told Bloomberg. “The potential for money laundering and terrorist financing is too serious to ignore.”

The news comes after the United States government auctioned off nearly $19 million worth of bitcoin, announcing winners last week. Those bitcoin were seized from Silk Road, a market which sold illicit products by accepting the difficult-to-trace virtual currency as payment.

Maryland’s regulators emerged with their own message of caution in April. However, interest in virtual currency lives. For instance, days after the Maryland warning, Bloomberg announced that it would begin providing updates on bitcoin.

As of Monday morning, the bitcoin exchange rate was about $614.

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