Police on the hunt for bitcoin users in Bangladesh

Bitcoin tokens are seen placed on a monitor that displays binary digits in this illustration picture. (Reuters)

Officials of the central bank have warned all other commercial banks in the country to be wary of bitcoin users.

The trading of the popular virtual cryptocurrency is illegal in Bangladesh, but the trading and usage of this currency is still rampant – a fact that has riled Bangladesh Bank.

Officials of the central bank have warned all other commercial banks in the country to be wary of bitcoin users. The Foreign Exchange Police Department and some other departments are being considered to be monitors of the currency, and a report will soon be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding cryptocurrencies, said a high-ranking official of Bangladesh Bank.

Investigators from Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) have already begun to look for bitcoin traders, and even the BTRC are involved. Officials from the aforementioned three organizations have already held four meetings on the matter.

Bitcoin is traded through an open source cryptographic protocol, negating the need of any financial organization or bank. As a result, there is no governing body for the currency anywhere in the world.

According to the BFIU, many freelancers and people who regularly travel abroad have already purchased or acquired bitcoin, and even some local celebrities – including cricketers – have inadvertently gotten involved with the phenomenon after being ushered into it by its agents.

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Meanwhile, the government has warned people not to make any transactions with bitcoin. According to Bangladesh Bank, bitcoin is neither accepted nor considered legal tender anywhere in the world, and it is risky to use this currency. The trading of this currency might cause infringements of laws regarding money laundering or funding terrorism.

An official of BFIU said: “Banks and other financial organizations of the country have been ordered to maintain a strict vigil on cryptocurrency trading. A circular will soon be sent out detailing the matter.”

“There is no way to purchase these currencies legally through banking channels. Cybercrime investigators are working on the matter,” he continued.

Speaking on the matter, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Cyber Crime Unit Nazmul Islam said: “We have already located a few bitcoin users, and are on the hunt for more, along with a few web pages which are being checked for authenticity. Investigating cryptocurrency trading is a complex matter.”

Even though it hasn’t been accepted as a currency yet, the popularity of bitcoin continues to rise meteorically. As a result, the central banks of many countries are beginning to implement policies to control it.

During a seminar at the recently concluded “Digital World 2017” conference, advisor to the Bangladesh Bank S K Sur Chowdhury said, “A combined committee will be formed with officials from the central bank as well as government and non-government financial organizations. It will figure out how to create and implement Bangladesh’s digital currency.”

This article was first published by Dhaka Tribune.

Last Update: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 KSA 10:06 - GMT 07:06

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