Staff Discussion Notes showcase the latest policy-related analysis and research being developed by individual IMF staff members and are published to elicit comment and to encourage debate. These papers are generally brief and written in nontechnical language, and so are aimed at a broad audience interested in economic policy issues. This Web-only series replaced Staff Position Notes in January 2011
Dong He, Karl Habermeier, Ross Leckow, Vikram Haksar, Yasmin Almeida, Mikari Kashima, Nadim Kyriakos-Saad, Hiroko Oura, Tahsin Saadi Sedik, Natalia Stetsenko, and Concha Verdugo Yepes
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
New technologies are driving transformational changes in the global financial system. Virtual currencies (VCs) and the underlying distributed ledger systems are among these. VCs offer many potential benefits, but also considerable risks. VCs could raise efficiency and in the long run strengthen financial inclusion. At the same time, VCs could be potential vehicles for money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion and fraud. While risks to the conduct of monetary policy seem less likely to arise at this stage given the very small scale of VCs, risks to financial stability may eventually emerge as the new technologies become more widely used. National authorities have begun to address these challenges and will need to calibrate regulation in a manner that appropriately addresses the risks without stifling innovation. As experience is gained, international standards and best practices could be considered to provide guidance on the most appropriate regulatory responses in different fields, thereby promoting harmonization and cooperation across jurisdictions.