Dr M says keen on India’s cashless society, not Harapan Coin

Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya is reviewing the pros and cons of cryptocurrency. — Picture courtesy of Information Department Malaysia
Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya is reviewing the pros and cons of cryptocurrency. — Picture courtesy of Information Department Malaysia

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 — Amid the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) proposal for a central bank-backed cryptocurrency, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he is more interested in India’s cashless society.

The prime minister also shot down the use of cryptocurrency Harapan Coin for official transactions as mooted by Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, saying the Cabinet has yet to discuss the issue.

“More interesting is the cashless society of India,” he replied to questions from the media, when asked if Putrajaya has considered IMF chairman Christine Lagarde’s suggestion.

“I had a long discussion with Modi, they hardly use any money at all,” he said, referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi’s administration has taken various measures to deter cash-facilitated crime and corruption and the use of counterfeit money, including banning the use of large denomination banknotes.

“Money is not used. When money is not used, corruption is less possible,” Dr Mahathir added, pointing to the use of cheap mobile phones for paying taxes and purchasing goods.

He had expressed the same sentiment following Modi’s official visit to Malaysia in May this year. Modi also attended the 33rd Asean Summit.

Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya is reviewing the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies, but has made no decision, even on Harapan Coin.

“This is his opinion, we haven’t really given enough thought about it. We may accept it, depends on how well it functions,” he said, referring to Harapan Coin and Khalid.

Khalid announced the purported plan to introduce the cryptocurrency in July, saying it could be the first political fundraising platform utilising cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

But Khalid also said the cryptocurrency may also be used for official transactions, which raised suspicion.

During the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018 this week, Lagarde made her suggestion on issuing a digital currency, saying central banks may provide the privacy that the private sector cannot guarantee.

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