The head of the U.K.'s central bank has said that the institution will step up its efforts to combat the use of cryptocurrencies in illegal financial activities.
During a speech at the Scottish Economics Conference in Edinburgh on Friday, Mark Carney, governor of Bank of England, said he thinks more rigorous regulations should be applied to exchanges in an effort to curb illicit use of cryptocurrencies in financial crimes, such as money laundering and terrorism financing.
"In my view, holding crypto-asset exchanges to the same rigorous standards as those that trade securities would address a major underlap in the regulatory approach," Carney said.
Further, the central bank chief said he doesn't believe cryptocurrencies currently pose significant risks to the existing financial system. However, such risks may grow as retail adoption of bitcoin expands and traditional institutions lag behind on improvements to their systems.
In other comments, Carney said that he believes cryptocurrency is "failing" as a type of money. It acts "at best, only for some people and to a limited extent, and even then only in parallel with the traditional currencies of the users," he said.
The central bank chief added that he is not against the innovation provided by cryptocurrencies, however, and argued that regulation would be of benefit to the industry, as well as consumers.
"Their core technology is already having an impact. Bringing crypto-assets into the regulatory tent could potentially catalyse innovations to serve the public better," he said.
The comments come soon after a warning from the country's top financial regulator on the risks of cryptocurrency investment.
As reported in December, Andrew Bailey, the chief of the Financial Conduct Authority, warned domestic investors that cryptocurrency assets like bitcoin are not regulated in the U.K. and, as such, any investment loss may not be protected.
Bank of England image via Shutterstock