The Obama administration should move quickly to embrace bitcoin and blockchain technology, a former government regulator has argued in a new op-ed.

Writing for CNBC, former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Bart Chilton said that the US is at risk of missing out on potential economic value by not more openly supporting the technology in its nascent days.

Citing recent advocacy by current CFTC commissioner J. Christopher Giancarlo, who appeared at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2016 blockchain conference, Chilton said that President Barack Obama “should heed the call”.

Chilton went on to say:

“Without some proactive step(s), such as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) and/or word from on high by the president, the U.S. could lose out on what are potentially enormous economic benefits.”

Chilton served as a commissioner from 2007 to 2014, and previously held positions in both the White House and Congress. He currently works as a policy advisor for international law firm DLA Piper.

In his op-ed, Chilton – who favorably pointed to regulatory moves in the European Union as a potential model for US action – called the current an opportunity that requires action soon.

“There is a huge opportunity that can be tapped into if US government officials and industry thought-leaders establish an appropriate balance between basic consumer protection regulation and an openness which not only permits, but fosters and promotes, innovation,” he wrote, concluding:

“We did it with the internet — and we need to do it now with virtual currencies like bitcoin.”

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