Brazilian Congressman Manoel Junior has proposed a public hearing to discuss bitcoin and digital currency regulation.
The hearing, if held, would involve representatives from Banco Central do Brasil; the Receita Federal, the Brazilian tax enforcement agency; Conselho de Controle de Atividades Fiancerias, the country’s anti-fraud agency; and representatives of the local bitcoin industry.
CoinBR CEO Safiri Felix, the only company named in the official request, indicated that discussions about such a meeting have been ongoing since a report on the technology was released by the Brazilian Senate in December 2014. At the time, the report recommended bitcoin regulation was unnecessary.
Felix told CoinDesk:
“The government thinks that it’s time now to make this conversation deeper. We’re trying to get space to educate authorities to make sure we’re making a legal framework that doesn’t affect the implementation of bitcoin. We’re trying to learn from US and Canada and Europe to make a good legal framework for market development.”
Felix admitted to being part of early discussions on the meeting, which he suggested could be attended by experts from local universities and law firms.
The official letter from Congressman Junior elaborates further on the interests of the local government in the discussions. In particular, Junior suggested that there has been little discussion about the potential impact on financial markets.
“There are some relevant questions which need to be asked in relation to bitcoin’s increase use,” Junior wrote. “Could it potentially replace fiat currency as a form of payment, unit of account and a store of value? If so, how would this impact the country authorities’ ability to define monetary and exchange policies?”
Junior also suggested his opinion that such risks should be assessed in order to maintain security as the technology becomes more widely adopted.
Since the announcement of the potential hearing yesterday, there has been both excitement and outrage in the local community.
For example, Brazilian entrepreneurs expressed their hope that a wider selection of the country’s bitcoin companies would be able to attend the meeting, though Felix suggested that this was the ultimate intent of the hearing.
Reports indicate that there has also been widespread backlash about the news on Facebook groups specific to the Brazilian market.
Felix indicated that outcry had been particularly animated from those who had “sympathy for libertarian views”. However, he suggested CoinBR’s goal was to be an active participant in this process so that the needs of local businesses are heard as regulation is crafted.
Elsewhere, Marcelo Miranda, CEO of local bitcoin exchange FlowBTC, attested to the strong negative reaction to the hearing proposal, which he attributed to the varying ideologies of local users and questions about CoinBR’s motives and involvement in the hearing.
“The hearing could be a step in the right direction or a real turn off for a market that is still in its infancy. It is really hard to tell with the information we have now,” Miranda said.