Police officers, spies and tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs met in London yesterday to discuss approaches to alternative currencies.

“The Future of Money” conference considered the implications for tax, crime fighting and espionage if Bitcoin, or a similar system, wins widespread adoption.

The meeting was attended by staff from HMRC, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the Home Office and GCHQ.

A spin doctor for the Revenue told the FT one idea was to establish a regulated exchange which forced customers to reveal their identities. Several exchanges worldwide have been forced to close after losing banking services.

Banks in several countries, including Canada and Poland, have already effectively shut down exchanges by withdrawing banking services.

A regulated and recoginsed exchange would be a major boost to the credibility of the currency – even if it scares off the tinfoil hat brigade.

The Revenue told the pink paper that it was monitoring the development of the alternative currency market.

The spokesman for the Revenue told Coindesk:

“HMRC officials regularly attend conferences and external events, both to communicate the work of the department and to further understand the current tax-related issues.

“The tax system already deals with transactions in currencies other than sterling. Any such transaction will be potentially taxable”.

The conference was organised by the Foresight Horizon Scanning Centre – an offshoot of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

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