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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Unclear If Bitcoin Is A Currency




In recent remarks on cryptocurrencies, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin questioned whether bitcoin should be considered a currency at all. He also expressed concerns over the use of virtual currencies to finance terrorist groups, but appeared enthusiastic about distributed ledger technology as a whole.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has said that he does not "think you can call [bitcoin] a currency, although it has certain aspects of a currency," and that the digital asset is "obviously one of the most volatile investments you've ever seen." He made the remarks at an event hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on February 26.

One of the US government's major concerns around virtual currency is finding ways to prevent terrorist groups from using the funds to finance their operations, he related. Along those lines, he said, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which he chairs, has "set up a specific subcommittee to look at cryptocurrency."

According to Mnuchin, bitcoin transactions are easy enough to track within the US, but "there are other areas of the world where you can't monitor anything and it is the equivalent of an old Swiss numbered bank account."

The US government is therefore "very focused" on working to find solutions to this issue alongside other G20 members, who generally agree "that we need to be able to make sure that all the different major countries can monitor these transactions so that it's just not used for illicit transactions of bad guys."

He qualified his somewhat negative characterization of cryptocurrency as a means of terrorist financing by opining that, in a more general sense, distributed ledger technology is "very important." He also acknowledged that "people have talked about … digital dollars and digital euros." 

Adam Reese

Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.

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