Skip to Content

The head of the IMF wants to turn blockchain technology against itself

March 14, 2018

The underpinnings of cryptocurrencies could be used to reign in their illicit use. So says Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who argues that governments should “fight fire with fire” in the crypto world.

The supposed threat: Transactions on public blockchain networks, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are very difficult, if not impossible, to trace. The result, Lagarde says, “is a potentially major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”

Lagarde’s solution: “The same innovations that power crypto-assets can help us regulate them,” she writes. Purpose-built distributed ledger systems could help regulators, governments, and markets share information more easily, she says. Combined with other technologies, like biometrics and AI, this approach could “help us remove the pollution from the crypto-assets ecosystem.”

But: Centralized financial surveillance systems are anathema to cryptocurrency enthusiasts. New, advanced systems likes the ones proposed by Lagarde would likely just inspire many to pursue new technologies and methods for skirting them.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

How do strong muscles keep your brain healthy?

There’s a robust molecular language being spoken between your muscles and your brain.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.