In many ways, the digital currency Bitcoin has had a very tough year. It reached its lowest point in almost two years back in January, and its overall gains for the year are relatively modest. Russia has stepped up its efforts to ban the currency outright. And the establishment can’t stop taking shots at it while heralding its Blockchain ledger underpinnings. Maybe the Bitcoin community can consider this piece of news a Thanksgiving dinner in Bitcoin’s honor, courtesy of Britain’s HM Treasury.
Also read: Building On-Ramps for the Bitcoin Ecosystem
The HM Treasury is something like the Federal Reserve in the United States. It is not an exact equivalent, since it is an actual department of Britain’s government, unlike the privately-held Federal Reserve in America, but it does handle the UK’s monetary and economic policy in a similar fashion to “The Fed.” They recently released their long-awaited “UK national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing” report, and it had some very interesting factoids about currencies, in general, and the bitcoin digital currency, in particular. (The report can be seen here in its entirety.)
Considering the fact that such a report is the first of its kind for Britain, and may be the first of such scope for any developed nation in regards to currency and its effect on terrorism, the report is very thorough, indeed. The goal of this report is explained front and center as follows:
“This is the UK’s first money laundering and terrorist financing national risk assessment (NRA). In conducting this assessment, the aim is to identify, understand and assess the money laundering and terrorist financing risks faced by the UK.”
It comes with a very easy-to-follow and helpful chart that shows each mode of economic transport in relation to each other, as seen below. As you can see, the report on bitcoin as a currency when it comes to a crime governments hold in high regard, “money laundering”, bitcoin is at the bottom of the list as far as a being a criminal risk.
Now, you might say “Well, what does that prove? That’s just one crime that bitcoin isn’t used for. That doesn’t mean that it is safe, or that terrorists do not use it.” Well, the HK Treasury, in their national study of such crime and their financing, sees a direct correlation between a currency’s use in money laundering and other crimes like terrorism, as they state on Page 9, Section 1.3 of Chapter 1, titled “Methodology”:
“There is a significant overlap between money laundering and terrorist financing in the methods used by criminals and terrorists to raise, store and move funds.”
The NRA (National Risk Assessment) goes on to refer you to Chapter 11 (“Terrorist Financing”) for more information about crimes more directly related to terrorism. When you reach Chapter 11, you will have to go seven pages in before bitcoin or any digital currencies are mentioned. This is because of their findings on bitcoin and actual terrorist financing, which reads as follows on Page 95, Section 11.44 of Chapter 11:
“Although digital currencies are currently not a method by which terrorists seem to raise or move money out of the UK, they remain a viable method for (the) storing and (use) of funds.”
So in this almost 100-page government report on terrorism financing, the first of its kind and scope, the digital currency bitcoin only garners three sentences towards the end, and one line at the bottom of a chart, highlighting its lack of criminal use. Any way you read this establishment report, it is a major vindication for bitcoin as a currency that is used for good, not evil.
The argument for scapegoating bitcoin, or any currency, as a den of thieves is specious and desperate, at best. They said the same thing about the Internet twenty years ago. Bitcoin is a technology that can be used for anything. The deeds of the user are the issue, not the technology. Kind of like taking a newspaper, setting it ablaze, and then throwing it into a building to burn the building to the ground. Only a fool would say “Ban all newspapers!” or “Newspapers are a weapon of choice for criminals”, yet this is much of the rhetoric we have seen of late.
What this report does foreshadow is the interest of Western governments in the banning of cash, which undermines the freedom and privacy of all citizens. This is just another salvo launched against any currency not centrally controlled by banks and governments. According to this report, cash is the top choice of money launderers and terrorist when it comes to funding illegal activity. It’s no secret that U.S. Dollars are the number one choice when it comes to money laundering globally. Will any sanctions come against the dollar for its criminal funding?
The drum is starting to beat for the abolition of cash, with Sweden going cashless this year, and the United Kingdom starting to build its case. It is happening so slowly, the economic powers that be are hoping you don’t notice the liberties and freedoms being taken away from you. If you have no problem with every cab ride, store purchase, or investment listed, located and transferred to a bank and government server, please disregard these economic warning signs, hidden in plain sight. The economic revolution will not be centralized.
What do you think about this report? Let us know in the comments below!
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