Fake Walmart-Litecoin news cries for regulation

U.S. regulators are accustomed to cracking down on such scandals when they plague the stock market

  
A representation of cryptocurrency Litecoin is seen in this illustration taken August 6, 2021.

A representation of cryptocurrency Litecoin is seen in this illustration taken August 6, 2021.

Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to know what’s legitimate in the anything-goes world of cryptocurrencies. The latest example is a fake press release sent on Monday in which Walmart purportedly announced it will be accepting litecoin, a bitcoin spinoff. The lesser known digital asset’s value shot up by more than 30% after some media outlets reported the phony news.

U.S. regulators are accustomed to cracking down on such scandals when they plague the stock market. For example in 2014 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged father-and-son executives at a New Jersey penny stock company for issuing bogus press releases. There may be similar enforcement in this litecoin case, but overall, watchdogs are only looking into how to regulate cryptocurrencies. There are no clear rules.

Meantime, digital assets are gaining wider use. El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele said last week it would adopt bitcoin as an official currency. Crypto credit and debit cards, along with loans and other traditional finance products, are being offered to consumers. The fake Walmart-litecoin news offers financial cops another reason to hop to it. (By Gina Chon)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by Lauren Silva Laughlin and Marjorie Backman) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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