John Collins

Bitcoin services provider Coinbase has hired an in-house liaison to US policy makers who are drafting digital currency legislation.

John Collins joins the San Francisco-based company as head of government affairs in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior advisor to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which almost a year ago held the first congressional hearing on digital currency.

Today’s announcement by Coinbase calls attention to the increasing need for more open and informed dialogue about bitcoin among regulators and public officials, saying:

“Our team has always invested a great deal of time and energy to help educate and inform regulators and other public officials about bitcoin. […] As more policymakers seek to understand its core value and promise, that responsibility has become increasingly large.”

Rise of the regulator

The bitcoin ecosystem has advanced tremendously in 2014 and its leaders have emerged across all sectors. As such, the pressure is on regulators to give more careful consideration to the rules of the game as businesses and consumers alike continue to grow the bitcoin economy at a rising pace.

It’s also urging key players to take the lead on keeping an open conversation with regulators, when regulators don’t themselves.

Bitcoin wallet and block explorer service Blockchain, another leader in the field, made a similar move last month when it brought New York business attorney and commercial litigator Marco Santori on board as its global policy counsel.

Santori described his new role as an “educational mission” to close the knowledge gap between digital currency users and lawmakers like Ben Lawsky, about whose controversial BitLicense proposal Santori has been vocal on behalf of the bitcoin community.

Moving the needle

Coinbase’s work reflects a lot of the progress in the bitcoin ecosystem. This year alone it has gone into business with some of the largest and best known corporations in the US – including OverstockExpedia, DISH Network and most recently, PayPal – and expanded its services into Europe.

The manner in which the US government decides to regulate digital currencies will have a more significant impact on Coinbase, if it retains accounts from such mainstream corporations and continues on its current trajectory.


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