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Money laundering, terror financing biggest risks of crypto: FM Sitharaman

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Washington: Amidst the pioneering fintech revolution, the biggest risk of cryptocurrency could be money laundering and its use for financing terror, said Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman.

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At an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting, Sitharaman said: “I think the biggest risk for all countries across the board will be the money laundering aspect and the aspect of currency being used for financing terror.”

“I think regulation using technology is the only answer. Regulation using technology will have to be so adept, that it has to be not behind the curve, but be sure that it is on the top of it. And that’s not possible. If any one country thinks that it can handle it. It has to be across the board,” the Minister said.

She is attending the Spring Meetings of IMF and World Bank, G20 finance ministers and central bank governor meetings, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, besides other associated investment meetings as part of her official visit to the US which began on April 18.

At a panel discussion on “Money at a Crossroad” hosted by IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva on the first day, Sitharaman highlighted India’s performance in the digital world and the government’s efforts to build the digital infrastructure over the past decade, stressing the increase of the digital adoption rate in India.

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“If I use 2019 data, the digital adoption rate in India is about 85 percent. But globally, that same year, it was only somewhere near 64 percent. So the pandemic time helped us test and prove that it is simple to use, common people can use it, and adoption was proven,” Sitharaman said.

In her opening remarks, the IMF MD said: “We are at the crossroads around how fast, how far, and in what proportion, but I see this as a one-way street in which Digital Money is going to play a bigger role.” Georgieva highlighted India’s well-targeted policy mix that has helped the Indian economy remain resilient even with limited fiscal space.

Sitharaman also saidthat India had the largest startup ecosystem during the discussion. “One in four startups belong to fintech and are increasingly becoming unicorns. 20 unicorns belonging to fintech in last 2-3 years,” she said.

Sitharaman met Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ali Sabry and discussed the current economic situation and its approach to addressing the prevailing challenges in Sri Lanka. She assured that “as a close friend and good neighbour, India will try to extend all possible cooperation and assistance”.

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Sitharaman also met Indonesian Finance Minister HE Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Sitharaman will hold bilateral interactions with South Korea and South Africa.

She will also speak to World Bank President David Malpass apart from holding one-on-one meetings with CEOs from the semiconductor, energy, and other priority sectors for the Indian government.

Once the meetings conclude in Washington, Sitharaman will head to San Francisco on April 24, where she will engage with business leaders and interact with the faculty and students at Stanford University. She will depart for India on April 27.

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