Commonwealth Secretariat to Explore Bitcoin in the Developing World

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The Commonwealth Secretariat is set to hold a hearing on digital currencies from 17th to 18th February to identify how their technology might benefit consumers in the developing world.

Called the Virtual Currency Round Table, the two-day event will feature representatives from Europol, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Deputy secretary general of the Commonwealth Secretariat Josephine Ojiambo indicated in statements that the intent of the meeting is to highlight the benefits of bitcoin and other digital currencies, while also noting the risks involved.

Ojiambo said:

“This meeting will help member countries guard against risks and identify ways virtual currencies can contribute to future social and economic development.”

At the end of the two-day event, the Commonwealth Secretariat indicated it will issue recommendations that would inform a “next phase” of research in the area.

The main intergovernmental organisation behind the Commonwealth of Nations, the association includes 53 states in Africa, Asia the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific, including such notable markets as New Zealand, India and South Africa.

Risks and rewards

Ojiambo went on to note, that while bitcoin does post risks, the meeting is meant to focus on both the positive and negative attributes of the technology.

In particular, she noted that digital currencies can provide certainty of payment, improved transaction times and reduced transaction fees.

Further, Ojiambo indicated that such benefits “will need to be considered” when the body reviews existing national regulatory and criminal law framework. The full release went on to suggest that participants could discuss using mutual legal assistance, agreements between countries that would enforce laws related to the technology.

Virtual currencies are being considered under the Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative, a collaborative effort created in 2011 by member nations to address cybercrime.

Flags of the Commonwealth of Nations via Shutterstock