Newly elected executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation Patrick Murck participated in an ask-me-anything (AMA) session on Reddit today, engaging the bitcoin community in a wide-ranging discussion to mark his new appointment.
Murck assumed his new position last week following the resignation of Jon Matonis, who will serve on the foundation's board through the year. Under its new direction, Murck indicated that the organisation will continue to defend bitcoin to policymakers and policy-focused groups while maintaining an open channel of discussion with the bitcoin community – goals he echoed throughout the AMA.
In his initial post, Murck introduced himself as a lawyer with 10 years of experience in policy and technology, before continuing to more advanced subject matter. Although some questions were unanswered at press time, his most memorable responses reflected his personal interest in payments innovation and professional interest in keeping open dialogue with banks and regulators.
Here are some of the top questions and answers from the AMA session. You can find the AMA session in full here.
1: Washington and Wall Street
Q: (AKWAnalytics) – Do you plan on engaging the new Republican-controlled US Congress with regards to bitcoin, and more broadly cryptography? Any shift in strategy given the changes?
Additionally, any course of action with regard to Wall Street, or is regulation a prerequisite (hence my first question)?
A: I've found that bitcoin plays well with both political parties in US. Sometimes for different reasons. For us, the strategy is to be a resource on the technical rules that govern bitcoin and the social contract that allows the bitcoin network to regulate itself. We can be that resource for politicians or other groups and associations doing work on the ground.
For a lot of the traditional financial companies (banks and other investors on Wall Street), regulation is seen as validation. Whether you agree with that or not, some level of appropriate regulation will bring in new participants to the bitcoin ecosystem and seems inevitable.
Keeping that regulation sane and focused on actual risks is important.
2: The New York BitLicense
Q: (BTC123RN) – Hi Patrick, thank you for doing this so early in the morning. What do you think the impact of NYDFS regulation will have on other states? Any chance the foundation is working with states to build something less onerous?
A: We have had plenty of discussions with state regulators and they are watching how things unfold in New York. That doesn't mean they are interested in following New York's approach per se, but the "BitLicense" proposal has garnered a lot of attention both here and abroad.
What state regulators seem most concerned with is consumer protection and what happens if the citizens they are charged to protect lose their life savings in a bitcoin exchange meltdown. I think they would love to hear constructive thoughts on how they can do their job without getting in the way.
But, if you do reach out to your state regulator keep this in mind. As you pitch this cool new technology (or your business), you will tend to highlight all the ways that technology is different from everything out there in the market. When a regulator hears that something is "different" they think about how much work it's going to take them and their staff to understand how to deal with it. It's usually better to tell your friendly regulator all the ways that this new technology (or your business) is the same as something they already know how to deal with. That puts things in a useful context for them and let's you focus on the consumer benefits.
Q: (vemrion) – What's your take on CurrentC? Does the Foundation have any plans to assemble a coalition of retailers to embrace an open standard like bitcoin?
A: Sounds like a good idea. Not sure the Foundation would best suited to take it on though. Maybe it's something that BitPay, BitNet, GoCoin, Coinbase, etc. would be able to rally around.
Certainly we'd love to support that type of initiative.
4: Crypto 2.0
Q: (FrancisPouliot) – Do you consider the rise of cryptocurrency 2.0 platforms as positive, neutral or negative for bitcoin?
A: Very positive. The first killer app for the blockchain is money and payments. More apps will bring more people to the network and benefit everyone in the community. This is particularly true with the advent of sidechains.
5: Tipping point
Q: (alphamystic007) – What do you worry about most?
A: The community pulling itself apart before bitcoin reaches a tipping point in adoption.
6: A technology platform
Q: (barkerw) – You mention the idea of bitcoin reaching a tipping point of adoption. What do you think that point is and how can the average user help it happen?
A: I think the best way to view bitcoin is as a technology platform. Platforms aren't really that interesting from a business or consumer standpoint when you only have around 5 million users (most not daily or even monthly actives), where bitcoin is at today. Email, wireless communications, social networking all get much more useful and interesting once there are 50 million or 500 million active users.
Getting the next 50 million people actively using the bitcoin network seems pretty critical over the next couple of years.
Note: Reddit comments have been edited for clarity.
Image via Vimeo