It’s no surprise that banks aren’t particularly happy about Bitcoin’s rising popularity. The most recent example comes from the United Kingdom, where the British Bankers Association (BBA) has issued a submission against Bitcoin.
In a document sent to the country’s Treasury and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the group of leading British banks says Bitcoin could facilitate the work of terrorists and their attempts to infiltrate the UK’s intelligence services. According to the BBA, the cryptocurrency ‘s anonymous nature and peer-to-peer structure creates unique opportunities for criminals living in and outside the country.
The banks “need to be able to demonstrate that transactions are legitimate and that they are not supporting criminal or terrorist activity”, the group said in a combined submission with the Payments Council. The banking association added that, at the moment, the British banks “are unclear on their responsibilities with regards to servicing those working with, paying or receiving digital currencies”.
“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”, Anthony Browne, the BBA’s chief executive, told the Sunday Telegraph.
The banks and the Payments Council have also admitted they are concerned about the consequences Bitcoin might have in the British economy. “If ‘convertible’ currencies were to reach mass adoption in the UK, there is a possibility that this may have an increasing effect on sterling. The Bank of England has noted that it is monitoring this”, the submission adds.
The statement was sent to the Treasury following an announcement made last year by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the man in charge of the Treasury’s work.
Osborne’s plan is to turn the UK into a “global centre of financial innovation”, but first he wants to explore if and how cryptocurrencies can play a role in the country’s financial system.
“It’s only by harnessing innovations in finance, alongside our existing world class knowledge and skills in financial services, that we’ll ensure Britain’s financial sector continues to meet the diverse needs of businesses and consumers, here and around the globe, and create the jobs and growth we all want to see in the future”, Osborne said a few months ago.
In the meantime, the Treasury has been producing a report on digital money, listing and comparing the technology’s potential benefits and risks.