Bank of England (BoE) governor Mark Carney called for the authorities to regulate cryptocurrencies rather than "ban them outright" in his speech to the inaugural Scottish Economics Conference in Edinburgh on March 2, as reported by Financial Times.
Carney excoriated Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, calling them poor stores of value and inefficient media of exchange.
The Bank of England has warned that bitcoin faces a regulatory crackdown, warning that "inherently risky" cryptocurrencies are failing to fulfil their most basic function as money. "The short answer is they are failing".
"This extreme volatility reflects in part that cryptocurrencies have neither intrinsic value nor any external backing".
Of course, Bitcoin largely came about because Carney's financial system wasn't particularly "safe and sound" - at least, not for all those who lost their homes and jobs during the 2008 Financial Crisis, which ultimately saw many traditional financial institutions rewarded for actually failing.
Bitcoin, the best known cryptocurrency, soared in value from around $1,000 at the start of 2017 to nearly $20,000 in mid-December, before tumbling below $6,000 last month and then staging a partial recovery. "That's quite a lottery", he said.
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Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts have likened bitcoin to gold because it has a limited supply and needs to be digitally "mined".
He said that cryptocurrencies exhibit all the "classic hallmarks of bubbles" which attract "fools".
Carney, who was unable to travel to Scotland because of the adverse weather conditions across the United Kingdom, noted "the average volatility of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation was more than 25 times that of the U.S. equities market in 2017".
"In my view, holding crypto-asset exchanges to the same rigorous standards as those that trade securities would address a major underlap in the regulatory approach", Carney said. But the rules were likely to be introduced on a country-by-country basis before any global push.
Mr Carney added: 'A better path would be to regulate elements of the crypto-asset ecosystem to combat illicit activities, promote market integrity, and protect the safety and soundness of the financial system. And internationally the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which Carney chairs, will report to the G20 in Argentina later this month on the financial stability implications of cryptocurrencies.
The BOE's Financial Policy Committee is now considering the impact of cryptocurrencies on United Kingdom financial stability, although Carney said he personally does not see any material risks.