Witness List Revealed for New York Virtual Currency Hearings

Pete Rizzo
Jan 23, 2014 at 21:27 UTC
Updated Feb 4, 2019 at 22:28 UTC

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has announced the witness list for its upcoming hearings on virtual currencies to be held on 28th and 29th January in New York City.

Notable names from the virtual currency community that will be participating include principals of Winklevoss Capital Management, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; Jeremy Allaire, the CEO and founder of Circle; Charles Lee, the founder of Litecoin; and Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase.

Speaking to law enforcement concerns regarding bitcoin will be District Attorney of New York County Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Richard B. Zabel, according to a release from Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services.

The news follows the NYDFS’ launch of an “ongoing fact-finding effort” into virtual currencies in August. The NYDFS formally announced the hearings on 11 January, stating that the intent of the meeting was to “review the interconnection between money transmission regulations and virtual currencies” as well as discuss proposed BitLicenses for bitcoin businesses.

The event will be spread across two days and include five panels on topics related to everything from bitcoin investing to academic perspectives on virtual currency. The NYDFS indicated that further updates on witnesses as well as the timing of the speakers may be announced in the coming days.

28th January

Leading off the event on 28th January will be a panel addressing the investment opportunities posed by virtual currencies. Included in this speaker group will be Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of SecondMarket; Jeremy Liew, partner at Lightspeed Venture Capital; Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures; and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

In an interview with CoinDesk, Liew spoke about his addition to the panel and his hopes for meetings.

“As an investor, one of the things we need quickly is regulatory clarity to ensure small companies don’t fail,” Liew told CoinDesk. “NYDFS has been proactive about educating themselves and informing themselves and this is part of that process, and I’m happy to be involved.”

The afternoon portion of the event will focus on regulating the still rapidly evolving industry. In addition to Charles Lee, the panel will include Judie Rinearson, partner at Bryan Cave, and Carol Van Cleef partner at Patton Boggs, as well as another as-yet unannounced speaker.

29th January

This day’s events will lead off with a panel on regulation given by New York’s law enforcement representatives, Vance Jr. and Zabel. Panel 2 will feature Ehrsam and Allaire, as well as an unannounced representative from major online retailer Overstock, which announced its plans to accept bitcoin earlier this year.

Panel 3 will conclude the two-day event with an academic overview of virtual currencies. The panel will include Ed Felten of Princeton University and Susan Athey of Stanford University.

Impact

New York has been active not just on matters related virtual currency, but also in regulating both the tech and financial sectors. For example, in December, regulators moved to crack down on payday lenders and enact policies for mobile phone campaign donations.

As the first state to formally call hearings on virtual currency, New York will likely set the tone for other states with its decision-making, meaning any decisions stemming from the hearings could have widespread implications in lieu of formal federal directions.

Statue of Justice via Shutterstock