UPDATED | May 21, 2018:
The cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, which was recently acquired by the Monex Group, has announced that effective June 18, it will no longer support the trade of three so-called privacy coins, namely Monero, Dash, and Zcash, as well as the virtual currency Augur.
A statement on the exchange's site explained that the move is in response to a business improvement order that it had received from Japan's Financial Services Agency. However, rather than attributing the planned change to an agency directive, the exchange appeared to take a measure of responsibility for the delisting. The company said:
"Based on the fact that it is necessary to further develop and strengthen the management system of AML / CFT in the future… We revalidated various risks based on the characteristics of [these tokens.] As a result, [trade in these currencies] will be abolished."
ORIGINAL | April 30, 2018:
According to reports, Japan's Financial Services Agency, a regulatory body, is informally encouraging cryptocurrency exchanges in the country to delist Monero, Zcash, and Dash, all of which are so-called privacy coins.
Sources described as "close to" the agency apparently said that the move comes in response to concerns over money laundering and other possible illegal uses of the cryptocurrencies. The trade and ownership of privacy coins are, by and large, harder to track than those of other digital assets like bitcoin or Ether.
The FSA's campaign against these more anonymous cryptocurrencies may be at least a month old. When Coincheck, an exchange that lost over 500 million NEM tokens in a January heist, resumed trading in March, it did so for all the tokens it had previously supported with the exception of Monero, Zcash, and Dash.
The Japan Times wrote that the exchange's initial decision to list these coins had been one of several reasons that the FSA had not yet granted it official approval, signaling that the agency's apprehensions around privacy coins date back to March, if not earlier. Several weeks after declining to relist the tokens, however, the cryptocurrency trading hub is still awaiting licensure.
At a working group convened by the FSA earlier this month, one attendee reportedly recommended that it be "seriously discussed as to whether any registered cryptocurrency exchange should be allowed to use such currencies." The agency has also apparently told other exchanges that listing any of the three tokens could hinder their chances of approval.
In response to the news, Monero core developer Riccardo Spagni tweeted:
"First they came for Monero, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Monero holder.
Then they came for ZCash, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a ZCash holder.
Then they came for Bitcoin - and there was no one left to speak for Bitcoin."
In October 2017, Europol issued a report on "internet organised crime." In it, the agency stated that while bitcoin remained the preferred cryptocurrency of criminals, privacy coins like "Monero or Zcash certainly appear to have more to offer criminals wishing to operate with greater anonymity." The document went on to speculate that "successful law enforcement activity related to Bitcoin-using cybercriminals may push users further towards alternative cryptocurrencies."