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IMF Warns Bitcoin and Crypto Assets Pose Substantial Risks to Macro-Financial Stability

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that granting crypto assets such as Bitcoin a legal tender status presents a threat to macroeconomic stability.

In a new blog post, the IMF says that adopting Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as national currency is a step too far that can negatively impact a country’s economic stability and financial integrity.

According to the IMF, one consequence of adopting crypto as legal tender is the time and resources it could take for people to figure out which money to use.

“The most direct cost of widespread adoption of a crypto asset such as Bitcoin is to macroeconomic stability.

If goods and services were priced in both a real currency and a crypto asset, households and businesses would spend significant time and resources choosing which money to hold as opposed to engaging in productive activities.”

The international institution also sees major jurisdiction issues arising if BTC were adopted, causing unmanageable volatility.

“Also, monetary policy would lose bite. Central banks cannot set interest rates on a foreign currency. Usually, when a country adopts a foreign currency as its own, it ‘imports’ the credibility of the foreign monetary policy and hope to bring its economy – and interest rates – in line with the foreign business cycle. Neither of these is possible in the case of widespread crypto asset adoption.

As a result, domestic prices could become highly unstable. Even if all prices were quoted in, say, Bitcoin, the prices of imported goods and services would still fluctuate massively, following the whims of market valuations.”

Consumer protection is another matter of concern for countries looking to adopt cryptocurrencies as legal tender, according to the IMF.

“Moreover, widespread cryptoasset use would undermine consumer protection. Households and businesses could lose wealth through large swings in value, fraud, or cyber-attacks. While the technology underlying crypto assets has proven extremely robust, technical glitches could occur. In the case of Bitcoin, recourse is difficult as there is no legal issuer.”

The IMF concludes that due to the accompanying risks, embracing crypto assets as a national currency would be an ill-advised shortcut for governments that want their citizens to access digital forms of money.

“As national currency, crypto assets – including Bitcoin – come with substantial risks to macro-financial stability, financial integrity, consumer protection, and the environment…

Attempting to make crypto assets a national currency is an inadvisable shortcut.”