With Bangladesh’s central bank ending the contract of the US security firm hired to investigate February’s massive $81 million theft—and no clue yet as to the culprits—the extraordinary heist is fading quietly into the background.
But the questions it raised remain important. The money was stolen through the Swift system, a global messaging network that is a vital part of the international banking system. This points to new and inevitable risks linked to the digitization of the global economy. The attempted Vietnamese bank breach that took place before Bangladesh—but was revealed only recently—using similar methods, underscored this.
The relatively circumscribed ability of central banks and governments to control various aspects of the digital economy makes matters even trickier. This is a dilemma that every country—especially emerging markets such as India where a cashless future is essential for development—will have to increasingly contend with.