It was representatives from BTC China who stole the show at day two of the Inside Bitcoins conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The day started out with ‘A Practical Guide to Bitcoin Compliance and Regulation’ hosted by Bill Haraf, Managing Director of Promontory Financial Group and Adam Shapiro, the Group's Director.
The two were both in agreement that consumer compliance would be big in 2014.
Following this, Steve Beauregard, CEO & Founder of GoCoin, talked about existing value systems that bear similarities to virtual currencies – like the ‘token economy’ that exists in credit card rewards. “You have loyalty points, other things in the ‘token’ economy,” he explained.
Interestingly enough, Beauregard pointed to gifts and donations as the biggest payment methods of virtual currencies like bitcoin.
Beauregard also discussed the decision to base his GoCoin exchange in Singapore, where regulations are being tailored to foster innovation. “The government down there has been quite perceptive,” he said.
The highlight of the day was a session focused on bitcoin's influence in China. Bobby Lee, CEO of BTC China and Malcom CasSelle of Timeline Labs had a number of interesting things to say on the subject.
“Trading volume has risen from $5m to $50m,” Lee said about BTC China's trading platform. Both Lee and CasSelle expect this growth to continue. CasSelle disclosed:
Lee guided the audience through the specific regulatory advice that was offered by China this past week.
“Bitcoin is not a currency, and will not be regulated as a currency,” said Lee. CasSelle added that banking is not the main problem for BTC China going forward. He said:
“BTC China as a business will not have problems with deposits and withdrawals [from banks].”
Rather, the issues that BTC China will face relate specifically to making payments in bitcoin, at least in the near future.
“Goods and services cannot be paid for by bitcoin,” said Lee.
This is the likely reason why an alleged BTC China Deal with Chinese Retail Giant Suning did not come to fruition.
The regulatory issues surrounding bitcoin continued to be a major topic at many of the conference's talks.
John Bates, Founder of MindArk and Michael Bombace, Identity Management and Alternative Payments for Booz Allen Hamilton, held a talk titled: ‘Virtual Currency Guidance: Blaze the Trail or Get Run Over’.
The pair made it clear that regulators don’t like to be confronted with something they don’t fully understand. Bitcoin represents a new way of thinking that they have to now consider.
“Regulators hate to be surprised,” said Bates, “And so does law enforcement,” added Bombace.
The final item on the conference agenda was: ‘Moving Bitcoin Forward: Bringing Trust, Legitimacy and Transparency to the Market’.
It featured; Andreas M. Antonopoulos, founder of RootEleven; Eric Benz, VP of Business Development for ZipZap Inc; Robert Cho, VP of SecondMarket; Adam Ettinger, Partner at Strategic Counsel Corp; Izzy Klein, Principal of Podesta Group; and Ardon Lukasiewicz, Founder of Bitmarkers and the session's moderator.
The discussion served as a look towards what might happen for 2014. All the panelists agreed that Bitcoin regulation will likely have more clarity next year.
“Regulators will wrap their heads around this for the US in Q1 or Q2,” said Robert Cho from SecondMarket.
Given the number of scams involving bitcoin, regulators are scrambling to figure out how to best write policy. “Bitcoin is known for complex scam tactics,” said Ardon Lukasiewicz.
Mediabistro will be taking its Inside Bitcoins conference on the road over the next year. Germany, Hong Kong, London and NYC are locations where the company will hold bitcoin conferences in 2014.
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