Japanese politician and bitcoin supporter Mineyuki Fukuda has taken a novel approach to bitcoin research, launching an online crowdfunding campaign to conduct a research tour of bitcoin businesses in the US.
So far, Fukuda has raised 52% of his target ¥600,000 ($5,785) needed to fund the mission, which he is conducting independently. By taking the tour as a private citizen, he is not drawing any taxpayer funds.
Fukuda, a member of parliament with the governing Liberal Democratic Party, has been a pioneer for digital currency acceptance in Japanese politics. As head of the government's IT Strategy Committee, he has frequently met with representatives from the bitcoin community at his office and even attended local meetups.
His efforts have led to the formation of Japan's digital chamber of commerce group the Japan Association of Digital Asset (JADA), which has the government's blessing and will liaise between businesses and relevant government departments.
Fukuda's crowdfunding campaign site describes the mission as one that will find the politician "visiting the frontline" of the bitcoin and digital currency industry with the intent to exchange opinions and ideas.
"Bitcoin is called the greatest invention since the Internet," it continues.
As with most crowdfunding campaigns, there is a rewards hierarchy based on the chosen level of participation:
- ¥1,000 ($9.60) will earn donors a published copy of Fukuda's research report
- ¥3,000 ($28.90) lets you join Fukuda as he makes a street-side 'stump speech' and even speak yourself for three minutes
- ¥5,000 ($48.10) allows you to attend a live seminar where Fukuda will present his findings
- ¥10,000 ($96.30, limited to 30) gets you a seat at a dinner presentation Fukuda will host (dinner not included)
- ¥50,000 ($481, limited to nine) takes you on the full tour of Japan's Parliament House, with Fukuda as a guide and lunch provided.
All donations receive a copy of the report.
Ironically, perhaps, the Japanese crowdfunding platform used, ShootingStar.jp, does not accept bitcoin.
Japanese digital currency policy
Despite the interest shown in digital currencies by Fukuda and other individual members of Japan's parliament from both major parties, the government has no plans for new legislation. Its only official statement has been, “We’re in charge of money. If it’s not money, it’s not the Ministry of Finance/Financial Services Authority’s jurisdiction.”
For now, this is a benefit to bitcoin businesses, as the government has not sought to regulate the industry. Instead it is putting its trust in representative organizations like JADA to form guidelines and help the industry self-govern.
On the other hand, creditors of failed bitcoin exchange Mt Gox (which collapsed before any of the initiatives mentioned here were created) have bemoaned the lack of official consumer protection for bitcoin business users.