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Central banks intensify criticism of cryptocurrencies

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the global body for central banks, has stepped up its criticism of cryptocurrencies, describing them as “speculative assets rather than money.” In a report published yesterday ahead of the full release of its Annual Economic Report on June 29, BIS argued that cryptocurrencies were used in many cases to facilitate financial crimes such as money laundering and ransomware attacks.

It stated that “bitcoin in particular has a few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint.” The report also dismissed stablecoins — which are designed to be less volatile than other crypto assets by being backed by fiat currencies — as an “appendage” to traditional money. According to the report, stablecoins are an “attempt to import credibility,” and are “only as good as the governance behind the promise of the backing.” It also said that the coins threaten to “fragment the liquidity of the monetary system.”

The report comes less than two weeks after the BIS’ Basel Committee indicated the risk level it assigned to crypto assets by proposing that banks with exposure to them should set aside capital to cover any losses. In addition, to cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, the report also highlights big tech as part of the threat to mainstream financial services. BIS analysed the three threats against the backdrop of growing interest in Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), which have drawn the interest of most central banks around the world.

 

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