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Swiss National Bank relaxed on virtual currencies

BERN, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Virtual currencies like bitcoin present no risks to monetary policy although investors should be aware of the dangers from big price swings, Swiss National Bank Chairman Thomas Jordan said on Thursday.

Bitcoin surged from $1,000 at the start of the year to above $16,000.

"We don't see any risks from these cryptocurrencies to the effectiveness of monetary policy today or in the future," he told a news conference after the SNB kept policy on hold.

He said the currencies were more used as investments rather than to make payments.

"Of course there are also valuation risks, because there can be big profits or losses," Jordan said. "It is more a question of protecting the investor than a question of monetary policy."

The use of cryptocurrencies was still relatively small, Jordan said. "From today's point of view we don't see any financial stability risks, he said.

European Central Bank policymaker Ewald Nowotny this week said the European Union needs to consider regulating bitcoin, citing risks of money laundering and of a bubble emerging.

(Reporting by John Revill and Silke Koltrowitz Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)