Bitcoin Foundation Hires Firm to Lobby Congress on Cryptocurrencies

| Published on July 9, 2014 at 15:27 BST

The Bitcoin Foundation has stepped up its US lobbying efforts by hiring Washington, DC-based firm Thorsen French Advocacy.

The announcement from the Foundation represents perhaps the most high-profile bitcoin lobbying effort to date. In May, Falcon Global Capital hired a lobbying firm to work with Congress, joining Peck Madigan Jones and other companies who are pushing legislators on the topic of digital currency.

Thorsen French Advocacy, founded in 2010, is led by Alec French and Carl Thorsen. The two long-time legislative officials have served in various legal capacities within the US government, as well as key positions in the private sector.

Jim Harper, the Foundation’s global policy counsel, said in a press statement that some members of Congress are already familiar with both bitcoin and its underlying technology. However, Harper noted that more work needs to be done to educate government leaders about the opportunities offered by the digital currency.

He said:

“The lawmakers and regulators who have studied bitcoin take the sensible position that government should seek its benefits and mitigate its risks. We’re carrying this message to Capitol Hill so the bitcoin community can focus on building tools and services that enrich and improve people’s lives around the world.”

The announcement builds on previous efforts by the Foundation to lobby members of Congress, regulators and federal officials on digital currency.

Education leads to greater adoption

The primary goal, the Foundation said, is to create an environment conducive to broader bitcoin adoption. Its lobbying efforts in Congress will likely aim to harmonize federal-level regulations to make it simpler for bitcoin to enter mainstream usage.

This sentiment was echoed by Jon Matonis, the Foundation’s executive director, who said in a statement:

“When governments are properly informed about bitcoin’s promise, the technology’s social and economic benefits are recognized and its rapid innovation and adoption will increase."

In a press conference organised by the Foundation, Harper stated that Thorsen French will act as conversation-starters and bridge-builders between the bitcoin ecosystem and Congressional leaders. He added that they can act as a voice for the bitcoin community, influencing public policy on bitcoin as it continues to take shape.

Working with regulators and legislators

Thorsen French will focus on a number of key policy areas, working with both regulators and members of Congress to address potential barriers for bitcoin while also building opportunities for its use.

Specifically, the lobbying efforts will seek to find a balance between privacy concerns and law enforcement as it relates to bitcoin; clarify the US government’s stance on digital currency taxation; and develop more inclusive, but effective, consumer protection rules.

Harper expressed the hope that Thorsen French will forge key relationships between the bitcoin ecosystem and Washington, stating:

“The goal is to clear the decks, clear the way, so that the bitcoin community, businesses and people can build the services, expand out to more and more people the world over, and really deliver on the benefits that bitcoin promises.”

Bitcoin Foundation

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