As digital currencies have emerged from their niche origins in cypherpunk social circles and into the spot- light of mainstream society, the novel technology and the community around it have increasingly attracted the attention of law enforcement and policymakers.
For all of the potential that bitcoin and blockchain technology hold to add socioeconomic value to people's lives around the world, it's the digital currency's use in illicit activities that has put it on the radar of government agencies. The ability to anonymize bitcoin transactions has made the digital currency a popular choice for criminals on online black markets like Silk Road, and concerns about money laundering aren't difficult to understand.
Many of the unique and unprecedented features of bitcoin’s technology that give it the potential to disrupt a wide range of industries and institutions – the ability to send money anywhere in the world in minutes, its peer-to-peer decentralized nature of value transfer and its completely digital existence, to name a few – are also what make effective regulation of digital currencies so challenging for governments; policymakers have no clear status quo to inform legislation on digital currencies, which makes the already-nuanced process even more complex.
Regulation has consequently become one of the most debated issues facing the digital currency industry; a divisive topic that many view from a 'make-or-break' perspective.
On both sides of the equation – for regulators and for the digital currency industry – there are many perspectives and topics that must be considered in the decision-making process of sensible regulation. This report explores a number of these perspectives in detail and investigates the areas of regulation that directly involve digital currencies and subsequently are critical in how the industry will continue to grow and mature.
Report Published: 3rd March, 2015
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary2
- Regulation Timeline4
- Map: Regulation Overview6
- Striking a Balance7
- Case Study: BitLicense10
- Consumer Protection16
- Advice for Startups17
- Regulation Sentiment18
- Looking Ahead20