Bitcoin Foundation sets the record straight at Capitol Hill

Emily Spaven
Aug 28, 2013 at 17:55 UTC
Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 18:27 UTC

Members of the Bitcoin Foundation educated US policy makers about digital currency in a meeting in Washington DC’s Capitol Hill yesterday.

Peter Vessenes, Patrick Murck and Marco Santori represented the Bitcoin Foundation and spent the day talking protocol, block chain and mining with representatives from the offices of several congressmen and senators.

Santori, who is chair of the foundation’s Regulatory Affairs Committee, said the attendees raised a number of concerns including privacy and anti-money laundering issues, but most just wanted to know how the protocol works.

“The protocol can be used in many ways, so it’s helpful to make that distinction. We gave examples and analogies to explain the fundamentals. We said if bitcoin is like email, a bitcoin service is like Gmail and a bitcoin company is like Google,” Santori explained.

There were also people at the meeting who had a very in-depth understanding of bitcoin. Santori said he was surprised to find there were a few attendees who knew more about bitcoin than he did.

Overall, he thinks the meeting went very well, but stressed it’s still very early days:

“We’re not yet at a stage where we are advocating a policy position. Capitol Hill is still understanding what bitcoin is, and we are trying to facilitate that process.

We were successful in bringing bitcoin out of boogeyman territory, though. That’s the first step, which hopefully prevents authorities making knee-jerk reactions.”

He believes it was important for the representatives to meet people involved in the bitcoin world, to show that digital currency is used by normal people, not just hardened criminals.

“Our real success over the past couple of days was beginning this dialogue. We welcome other federal regulatory agencies and enforcement agencies to reach out with any questions or concerns.” Santori concluded.

Yesterday’s session followed a meeting on Monday hosted by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which was attended by the Bitcoin Foundation and high-level representatives from a number of US federal agencies.

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