Washington: The booming cryptocurrencies market offers great hope, but also presents security risks and concerns, the White House said on Wednesday.

Noting that the market was being monitored, a senior administration official said that he was not prepared to say if it needed regulations. “We do not have a formal position on block-chain currencies and cryptocurrencies at this point. Blockchain technologies operate in a way that there’s, I guess, great hope and promise. They also present some security risks and concern for us," Tom Bossert, White House Homeland Security Advisor, told reporters at a news conference.

Bossert said he was tracking and monitoring it very closely from a security perspective as he was responsible for not only advising on cyber but also on counterterrorism policy. “What we want to make sure is that block-chain cryptocurrencies aren’t being used to support illicit behaviour in ways that we can’t discover," Bossert said.

There are other people in the administration equally following it for the promise it provides economically and from a trade perspective. “We don’t have any negative or positive view on it right now, but we have to monitor it closely as this new technology is becoming quite, expensive – lucrative," Bossert said.

Asked if it needed regulation, he said, “Not prepared to say that now". In the last several weeks, prices of cryptocurrencies in particular bitcoin has increased by several hundred times. There is massive increase in other currencies as well.

However, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange filed for bankruptcy today after it experienced its second cyberattack in eight months. As a result of this, Yapian, which operates a Seoul-based exchange called Youbit, lost a large amount of its digital- currency reserves. PTI