The Reserve Bank has baulked at describing crypto-currencies as “currencies” in a withering assessment of their contribution to the financial services market that it submitted to an inquiry.

Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure select committee has kicked off an inquiry into the “nature, impact, and risks of crypto-currencies”, in a move crypto supporters fear may signal the possibility of more regulation.

To many of their supporters, crypto-currencies are an emerging source of innovation that promises to democratise financial markets, keep the banks honest, and provide a better a store of wealth than official currencies.

But to their critics they are little more than a confidence trick, an enabler of cyber-crimes such as ransomware and – due to the electricity often used in the “mining” – environmentally irresponsible.

* Using bitcoin as legal tender
* More than US$600 million of cryptocurrencies stolen in massive hack

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