Science and Tech


Leaders At World Economic Forum Criticize Illegal Cryptocurrency Use

At this year's World Economic Forum, many political leaders were focused on cryptocurrency and its association with criminal activity.
Posted at 9:44 AM, Jan 29, 2018

At this year's World Economic Forum, many top political figures expressed their distaste with cryptocurrency — mainly its use to fund illegal trading, terrorist organizations and money laundering. 

"My No. 1 focus on cryptocurrencies, whether that be digital currencies or bitcoin or other things, is that we want to make sure that they're not used for illicit activities," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

“We should be looking at these very seriously, precisely because of the way they can be used, particularly by criminals," British Prime Minister Theresa May told Bloomberg.

"The anonymity and lack of transparency and the way in which it conceals and protects money laundering, financing of terrorism, and all sorts of dark trades is just unacceptable," said International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

The claims have some merit. Some studies estimate nearly half of all cryptocurrency transactions are to buy or sell illegal products and services

But cryptocurrency isn't as perfectly anonymous as some world leaders made it seem. Bitcoin transactions, for example, create public data that can be linked back to the seller or buyer, even if their name isn't attached to it. The FBI tracked down the IP address of the ringleader for the Silk Road, an online black market, with help from his bitcoin transactions.

Aside from security concerns, leaders also called for a central set of regulations to control cryptocurrency's wild price fluctuations. But coming to terms everyone can agree on will be its own challenge.