CRYPTOCURRENCY Bitcoin could make it easier for terrorists to evade the intelligence services, according to Britain’s leading banks.
In a document sent to the Treasury, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) warned that the partial anonymity Bitcoin provides, and its structure as a peer-to-peer currency provide opportunities for criminals.
The BBA said banks “need to be able to demonstrate that transactions are legitimate and that they are not supporting criminal or terrorist activity. At present … [banks] are unclear on their responsibilities with regards to servicing those working with, paying or receiving digital currencies”.
Last year, George Osborne announced plans to explore how cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin can play a role in the UK financial system. The Treasury was tasked with producing a report on digital currencies, examining their potential benefits and risks. Osborne said he aims to make the UK the “global centre of financial innovation”.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, BBA chief Anthony Browne said: “The reality is that if terrorists and criminals harness these unregulated currencies they will be far harder for the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to hunt down.”
Bitcoin has suffered a massive fall in its value over the past year. Last year, the world’s biggest digital currency reached the dizzying heights of $1,000 per Bitcoin. But in the middle of last week it touched lows of $173.