experts and representatives of Commonwealth governments will meet to
explore issues around the rapid development of virtual currencies, and
to identify potential benefits they could offer to developing countries.
currencies are digital representations of value that can be traded and
exchanged between online communities. At present, there are no
internationally agreed standards or rules that apply to these
offering potential for countries where banking and transaction costs
are unaffordable, virtual currencies have also been associated with
criminal activities such as money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The two-day Virtual Currencies Round Table from
17-18 February 2015
will gather a wide range of expertise from Interpol, Europol, IMF, the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and high-level Commonwealth
government representatives. The event is being convened under the
Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative.
interconnectivity has led to a rise in the number and size of virtual
currencies amongst online communities. While some virtual currencies are
regulated and have a centralised system, such as a computer gaming
environment, many are decentralised. These operate on a peer-to-peer
basis with a degree of anonymity, making it difficult for governments
and international law enforcement to ‘follow the money’.
decentralised currencies are referred to as crypto-currencies due to
their reliance on cryptographic technology. Bitcoin is the most commonly
known, but others include Ripple, Litecoin, PayCoin, Bitshares, Stellar
appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat,
Josephine Ojiambo described the conference as an important opportunity
to raise awareness about emerging trends in the use of virtual
currencies across the Commonwealth.
said: “This meeting will help member countries guard against risks and
identify ways virtual currencies can contribute to future social and
is important to note that virtual currencies do not solely pose risks.
However, the potential benefits they offer such as reduced transaction
costs, certainty of payment and improved transaction processing times
will need to be considered within the context of the strengths and
weaknesses of existing national regulatory and criminal law frameworks.”
will address regulation, law enforcement and jurisdictional issues,
international co-operation and the use of mutual legal assistance
instruments, as well as national and regional responses to combatting
abuses of virtual currencies.
At the end of the two days, recommendations will be issued to inform the next phase of the Commonwealth’s work in this area.
round table discussion will be convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat
in London following commitments made by Commonwealth Heads of
Government in 2013 to combat the rising threat of cybercrime, and to
develop safe and cost-effective money transfer operations.