US regulatory panel urges monitoring of virtual currencies risks
Software engineer Mike Caldwell shows the front (R) and back, hologram side, (L) of a physical Bitcoin he minted in his shop on April 26, 2013 in Sandy, Utah. (AFP)

A U.S. regulatory panel on Thursday called for watchdogs to closely monitor risks created by financial innovation, warning that fintech and virtual currencies such as bitcoin threaten to disrupt the traditional financial services industry.

The comments from the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which monitors potential risks to the financial system, offers a further sign that regulators are looking to bring the likes of bitcoin, online lenders, and distributed ledger technology under their purview.

"New applications of technology ... can be disruptive and can create risks and vulnerabilities that are difficult to anticipate. Accordingly, the Council encourages financial regulators to continue to identify and study new products and services ... and coordinate regulatory approaches," it said.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder)