The Austrian and German governments are funding a research effort focused on the use of digital currencies in organized crime.
Dubbed ‘BitCrime’, the initiative is backed by a number of governmental agencies in the two countries, and is split into two sub-projects.
The German sub-project is primarily supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and has a budget of €1.8m (roughly $2m). Other supporting institutions include the country’s Federal Criminal Police Office, the University of Münster, and a number of federal offices dedicated to law enforcement and financial oversight.
The Austrian sub-project, with a budget of €635k (about $725k), is backed primarily by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Institute of Technology, and the Federal Ministries of Finance and the Interior.
A memo outlining the project states:
“The joint project will assess the subject and its threat profile in order to develop innovative and workable approaches toward regulating virtual currencies in a way that is compatible with their fundamental nature. The project will strive to develop actionable, internationally applicable and interoperable solutions for Europe and beyond.”
German researchers, the memo outlines, are developing “technical and organizational approaches” to the issue, and are set to create test environments for trying out new practices. In Austria, project leaders will explore analytical methods for investigations that involve digital currencies, including those focused on dark markets.
The project comes at a time when European governments, as well as the European Union, look to both expand existing regulations to cover digital currencies and blockchain technology, as well as develop new frameworks for the technology.
Members of the EU Parliament discussed approaches at a recent forum, and the bloc’s executive branch, the European Commission, is also weighing options.
Representatives for the project did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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