* Major global survey shows deep scepticism on crypto
* 60% of respondents see crypto as a risk, not opportunity
* Financial firms wary of money laundering, sanctions risks
By Tom Wilson
LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Financial firms and governments
overwhelmingly see cryptocurrencies as risky, a major survey
found on Tuesday, with the potential for bitcoin and other
digital tokens for use in money laundering and sanctions busting
among the chief worries.
Around 60% of respondents from financial firms, government
and the private sector alike to the survey by the Royal United
Services Institute think-tank and the Association of Anti-Money
Laundering Specialists said cryptocurrencies were a risk rather
than an opportunity. Illicit usage was the major concern.
The findings, one of the most detailed efforts yet to map
out mainstream global views towards cryptocurrencies, lay bare
the depth of scepticism towards the emerging tech.
They suggest an uphill struggle for the crypto industry to
achieve wider acceptance, even as countries across the world
grapple with how to regulate cryptocurrencies. The European
Union will introduce new rules for some cryptocurrencies by
2024, documents showed last week.
The perception of criminal use of cryptocurrencies is
deep-rooted, the survey found. Nearly 90% of respondents from
financial firms said they were worried about crypto being used
to launder money. Over 80% were worried about sanctioned actors
using digital coins to circumvent the formal financial system.
"All respondents accept that cryptocurrencies are vulnerable
to criminals," the survey's authors said.
The extent to which crypto is used for crime is unclear,
with past research by major blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis
this year putting the rate as low as 1% of all transactions.
Still, digital currencies are popular with cyber-criminals,
as the July hack of major Twitter users to reap bitcoin shows.
Cryptocurrencies have also been used for the funding of
militant groups. The U.S. Justice Department said last month it
had targeted efforts by the military wing of Hamas, al Qaeda and
Islamic State to raise funds via cryptocurrencies.
Only a fifth of respondents from financial and other private
firms said they viewed digital coins as an opportunity, the
research found. Among the potential benefits cited was the
possibility crypto could extend access to financial services.
The survey was based on over 550 responses from financial
institutions, law enforcement and financial watchdogs, and legal
and insurance firms. It also tapped the cryptocurrency industry.
(Reporting by Tom Wilson; editing by David Evans)