Article: Money Laundering Might Taint NFTs Too, Prepare For Tighter Controls

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Money Laundering Might Taint NFTs Too, Prepare For Tighter Controls

Simon Chandler,  27 March 2021

While non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are certainly the big thing in crypto at the moment, they aren’t without their problems. Aside from accusations of hype and faddishness, NFTs also raise the familiar and thorny issue of money laundering.

Without much in the way of quantitative proof, detractors have linked the burgeoning NFT market with money laundering, with some people describing them as the “best money laundering method in the cryptocurrency world.”

However, industry players speaking with suggested that, while NFTs are open to money launderers, there’s currently nothing concrete to indicate that their use for laundering is significantly worse than it is in the traditional art world, or with other types of crypto. At the same time, they attest that the strict introduction of KYC/AML (know your customer / anti-money laundering) standards will help combat this emerging problem.

A problem, but how big?
Given the young age of NFTs, there’s currently no hard data on their use for money laundering. Still, experts affirm that criminals are likely to turn to them sooner or later, if they haven’t already.

“I can only speculate how large it is today and how large it could become. Right now none of the major trading venues (such as OpenSea) seem to have KYC gathering or AML/CFT [Combating the Financing of Terrorism] screening for users so that could be exploited,” said Tim Swanson, the head of market intelligence for Clearmatics.

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