European leaders are planning to crack down on the use of bitcoin, prepaid credit cards and other methods of anonymous payment in response to the Paris attacks last week, Reuters reported Thursday. It's part of a crisis plan that aims to dismantle suspected terrorist financing networks after the massacre, claimed by the Islamic State group, killed 129 people and wounded hundreds.
Interior and justice ministers from throughout the European Union are scheduled to meet in Brussels Friday, where they will encourage the leaders to “strengthen controls of nonbanking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by prepaid credit cards,” according to a draft obtained by Reuters.
Bitcoin is the most popular form of digital cryptocurrency, with users able to transact in relative anonymity with fees lower than those generally imposed by credit card processors. It's frequently used as part of criminal dealings, though it's not clear to what extent ISIS is doing so. The terrorist group also survives thanks to criminal activity, oil sales and donations from officials and wealthy individuals in Arab countries allied with the U.S.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also set up a commission to fight terrorist financing Wednesday. Putin issued a notice to Russia's central bank, prosecutor's office and regional authorities instructing them to immediately report any suspicious financial activity that could be linked to terrorism. Among those encouraged by Putin's stance was President Barack Obama, who, after years of frosty relations over a number of issues, deemed the Russian leader a “constructive partner” in the global fight against ISIS.