A technology has two aspects — good and bad. The aspects however are not integrated within the functions of a technology; but instead, it is implied by its operator — the man — which decides whether to utilize an innovation for a good or bad purpose.
Bitcoin somewhere has fallen between these two distinctive flocks: one, which is trying to utilize its technology for making banking easier, faster and cheaper; the other, which is abusing it for all notorious crimes that hold the power to destabilize order. Speaking particular about the latter, criminals indeed have found an accessible companion to feed their empire of terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking and various other illicit activities.
Some Surveys, Opinions
Just a few months back, Chartered Accountants and PwC conducted a survey to understand the strong demand of disrupting technologies in the future. It derided that over 23% of accounting and finance professionals found money laundering and terrorism to be the biggest roadblocks for Bitcoin. In the same survey, it was told that over 67% of the 10,000 participators believed Bitcoin to be used widely in the next 10 years — perhaps by a majority of criminals as well.
Regulators have therefore found it troubling to compute laws that could be well-fitted with Bitcoin’s technological traits. Just a month ago, a meeting held between government officials and digital currency entrepreneurs thoroughly raised this issue. There the regulators believed that companies will play a major role while combating Bitcoin-related risks, with FinCEN head Jennifer Shasky Calvery adding that:
“When I put my financial intelligence unit hat on and we’re trying to trace funds of criminal and other illicit actors, the reporting that we’re getting from some of the bitcoin exchangers is quite good. They use that technology mind to provide some really good reporting and do work that is incredibly helpful for law enforcement and FinCEN in terms of trying to trace money.”
Perhaps, the government is too sure that criminals will be using centralized channels to move their money across the borders. But we have to see that the transactions can take place even without needing a Coinbase or iGot — through direct wallet-to-wallet payments.
But meanwhile, on the receivers’ end, the deposited Bitcoin equivalent of some giant transfer would be difficult to exchange with fiat currencies, especially when there will be regulated exchanges that would be sharing every transaction detail with their onlookers. A focus however would be needed on countries where terrorist financing and money laundering regulations are poor — such as in Pakistan, Iraq and many parts of Africa.
But would countries choose to impose an overall ban, should Bitcoin leave no choice for them? No, definitely. The digital currency undoubtedly has come too far from where it was started. It is gaining momentum in the name of mass consumer and merchant adoption, and constantly optimistic exposure to mainstream companies and regulatory bodies.
Governments will simply be compelled to flow with the wind and deal with Bitcoin’s criminalistic concerns alongside. It is the same with cash which, despite being one of the most avid tool for hawala and other illicit activities, has never faced ban thanks to its mass adoption.
A technology has two aspects, literally.