More cryptocurrency control urged

More cryptocurrency control urged

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam is calling for more measures to control digital currencies, which can be abused to fund terrorism.

The negative impact of digital currencies has been discussed for some time, with several legal measures implemented to prevent their misuse. However, more efforts -- both domestically and internationally -- are needed to keep up with changing times and tactics, Mr Wissanu told participants of the Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit yesterday.

Anti-money laundering and terrorism experts should not be satisfied with their current understanding of cryptocurrencies, and should update their knowledge so they will not lag behind criminals, the deputy prime minister stressed.

Bitcoin is a form of valuable virtual currency which can change hands over the internet, while blockchain is a transaction record kept to prevent anyone from spending the same bitcoin more than one time.

Although there are rules to control its use, criminals may find methods that allow them to exploit it to launder money or hatch terrorist plots.

The problem is that those involved in these online activities often prefer to remain anonymous, Mr Wissanu said, making it difficult for authorities to verify their identities.

These concerns have caused the government to enact two measures -- the 2018 executive decree on digital asset businesses and the 2016 act on counter-terrorism financing and highly destructive weapons.

These measures give Thailand some leverage, but "the laws need to be amended in the future so that we can better keep up with technological changes," Mr Wissanu said.

Mr Wissanu raised the alarm amid growing worries over money laundering via digital channels as more people go online to access services provided by financial institutions.

Summit participants agreed that governments need to keep developing strategies to cope with illicit online financing, as intergovernmental cooperation has decreased the number of terrorist attacks by cutting off their financial support, said Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto.

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