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Italian Parliament to Host First Bitcoin Hearings this June

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on June 10, 2014 at 19:05 BST

Italy's House of Parliament is set to hold two hearings on the risks, promises and opportunities posed by bitcoin and other digital currency technologies this June as the government seeks to conduct broader fact-finding on the subject.

The events will bring together local lawmakers, academics and international representatives from the bitcoin industry. The first meeting is set to take place on 11th June, featuring participation from parliament member Stefano Quintarelli and Senate Vice President of Treasury and Finance Committee Francesco Molinari, among others.

Organised by digital payment advocacy group CashlessWay, the second event will take place on 26th June. Notable speakers will include Stefano Pepe, co-founder of independent local trade association Bitcoin Foundation Italy, parliament member Sergio Boccadutri and Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Boccadutri said that the events will mark the first time that the country's institutions, businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to discuss bitcoin and its potential impact on Italy's economy openly.

The lawmaker said:

"My goal is to create, for the first time, a real and rational debate about cryptocurrencies, studying all the aspects of the new phenomenon: not only the business opportunities, but also the tax implications and the controls to avoid criminal activities."

The news follows a January proposal authored by Boccadutri that sought to impose cash-like restrictions, including mandatory reporting requirements, on bitcoin transactions exceeding €1,000.

Technical overview

Sebastiano Scrofina, of local bitcoin consultancy and 11th June meeting organiser CoinCapital, indicates the first of two unaffiliated meetings will focus on educating lawmakers, law enforcement agencies and members of Italy's traditional banking industry.

Scrofina expects around 15 representatives from parliament to attend what he called a "high-level discussion" on digital currency:

"Oftentimes, in Italy, politicians just don't dig deeper into the topic. Our goal is to explain in detail the technology, the block chain, the difference between bitcoin and altcoins and block chain forensics in technical detail."

The closed meeting will run from 14:30 to 18:50 local time, and also feature an open question-and-answer session.

Eye toward regulation

In contrast to the 11th June meeting, the second event will be open to the public and will involve international participation in the form of Robocoin CEO Kelley, though the final speaker schedule has yet to be confirmed.

As yet, Boccadutri is the only member from the parliament attending, though he has been perhaps the most active lawmaker on the topic. Boccadutri eventually tabled his controversial January proposal, but has continued to advocate for the Italian government to learn more about digital currencies.

For example, on 5th June, Boccadutri called for the country's House Budget Committee to conduct an inquiry of the technology, arguing that the research is necessary so that Italy can keep pace with regulators in other nations such as Germany and the US that have been more active on the issue.

Boccadutri said:

"A survey from the point of view of the legislature is necessary, from my point of view, to deepen the treatment of so-called 'transactions' that occur in digital currency in our country."

The Palermo native further indicated that such findings would also be beneficial should the government decided to regulate such financial activity domestically.

Community debut

Members of the local bitcoin ecosystem said they will be ready to rise to the occasion this June in what will be the first presentations by the community to the government body.

Andrea Medri, a member of Bitcoin Foundation Italy and local digital currency trading platform The Rock Trading, will be attending the 11th June event as a spectator and the 26th June event as a speaker.

He indicated that he looks forward to the 26th June meeting, as it will provide the local ecosystem the opportunity to showcase a common strategy, as well as educate Boccadutri on the concerns of the community.

CoinCapital's Scrofina echoed this assessment, saying his organisation's event marks an important advancement in what he hopes will become an ongoing discussion in Italy:

"This is a good first step, it means the legislators want to just learn more about the phenomenon."

Montecitorio Palace in Rome via Shutterstock

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