Federal agency representatives meeting to discuss bitcoin
Published on August 25, 2013 at 22:14 BST
Representatives from a number of US federal agencies are attending a conference on Monday (26th August) to discuss bitcoin.
Hosted by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the US treasury building in Washington DC, the meeting will be attended by high-level representatives from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Reserve.
Also attending will be representatives from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Patrick Murck, Brian Klein, Marco Santori and Peter Vessenes will represent the Bitcoin Foundation at the event and Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at Cato Institute, will also be present.
Murck said the conference will help regulators, policymakers and law enforcement officials to better understand the Bitcoin protocol and distributed finance. He believes that, once these representatives understand bitcoin, they will be able to make better decisions and develop new methodologies for identifying and interceding illicit activity.
"Bitcoin and distributed finance is here to stay and our preferred path forward is a cooperative one, where we all can help ease each other's transition into an inclusive and distributed global financial system," Murck added.
He views the conference as the beginning of a conversation about the appropriate role of government and law enforcement in the emerging digital currency space. "Our hope is that this is the beginning of an open and transparent dialog between good-faith stakeholders to find common ground and develop public-private partnerships."
Murck said it is "refreshing" that US regulators at the federal level are taking a responsible approach to working with the industry to understand these issues. "Contrast that with what we are seeing at the state level, where regulators seem more interested in rushing to conclusions and tripping over themselves to be first-movers without regard to the unintended consequences for the industry and US policy at the national level."
On Tuesday, the foundation is meeting with council and staff members of several US congressmen and senators at Capitol Hill to discuss legal issues surrounding bitcoin.
Santori, who is chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation's Regulatory Affairs Committee, said: "The foundation is committed to establishing itself as the first resource for government policymakers. Through history, it has always been critical that a government understands the industries it governs, and bitcoin is no different.
"Bitcoin deserves a voice in Washington. The foundation is ensuring that voice is clear and distinct."
Various states in the US have started taking action against bitcoin companies of late. Earlier this month, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued subpoenas to 22 bitcoin companies and, in June, California’s state financial regulator issued a cease and desist order against the Bitcoin Foundation.
The central government showed some interest in bitcoin recently too, with a US Senate Committee asking the Department of Homeland Security for information on any policies, guidance, plans and strategies they have relating to virtual currencies.
Santori hopes a "safe, carefully-tailored regulatory environment" will soon be created for bitcoin so that innovation can continue in the United States.
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