Bitcoin Foundation Hires Regulatory Expert for EU Policy Push

Daniel Palmer
Sep 19, 2014 at 15:19 UTC
Updated Sep 19, 2014 at 19:17 UTC

The Bitcoin Foundation has been ramping up its lobbying efforts in the US since July, most notably with the hiring of Washington, DC-based firm Thorsen French Advocacy. Now, the organisation is making a similar push to promote the digital currency in Europe.

The foundation announced today that it has retained regulatory expert Monica Monaco to directly promote the digital currency with political leaders and policymakers in the European Union (EU).

This is the first time the an external expert has been directly hired in this way in the EU, where the foundation normally relies on the advocacy efforts of its members.

Brussels-based Monica Monaco, who is founder and managing director of TRUST EU Affairs, was a senior manager for EU relations and regulatory affairs in the legal department of VISA Europe for more than 10 years.

As well as a legal and economic background, Monaco brings to the role a knowledge of payment systems, consumer credit, e-commerce and financial education, which she will utilise to help the foundation “protect and promote” bitcoin in Europe.

Trust EU Affairs is a regulatory affairs consultancy specialising in financial services legislation at the European Union level.

New direction

Bitcoin Foundation executive director Jon Matonis told CoinDesk that Monaco would be a valuable addition to the foundation, saying:

“Through her experience with Visa and financial clearing networks, Monica brings a wealth of knowledge and important contacts to the Bitcoin Foundation.”

He added, Monaco’s role will also include strategic coordination with local affiliate chapters. Additionally, the foundation plans on launching an EU regulatory affairs committee, similar to the one headed by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman attorney Marco Santori in the US.

Through its collaboration with TRUST EU Affairs, the Bitcoin Foundation aims to “continue to expand awareness and recognition of the bitcoin community, the bitcoin protocol, and its benefits”.

The primary goal, the organisation says, is to discourage uninformed negative treatment of bitcoin and to lay the groundwork for law and policy changes that both maintain bitcoin’s independence and permit its fuller integration into mainstream financial services systems.

Perfect timing

Jim Harper, Global Policy Counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, argued that the move comes at the right time for the organisation, saying:

“As we’ve been doing in the US, we’ll be introducing the foundation, educating policymakers about bitcoin and sharing bitcoin’s achievements and potential in terms of financial inclusion with leading policymakers and public officials.”

Matonis explained that retaining Monaco represents an extension of the foundation’s general strategy, and “internationalizes its educational and existing policy efforts”, adding:

“Bitcoin is global and so is the foundation.”

Today’s news raises the prospect of other regions being given their own Bitcoin Foundation representative to push the case for bitcoin.

“The Eurozone and the UK are first,” Matonis said, “but other significant regions for bitcoin will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”

EU Commission in Brussels image via Shutterstock

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