Sir Richard Branson has voiced his support for bitcoin ahead of the Global Digital Currency Conversation (GDCC) forum in Brisbane, Australia, this Sunday.
The GDCC is due to coincide with this year’s G20 Summit on 16th–17th November, at the close of the G20 event. Organisers say it aims to facilitate discussion and “formalise a global agreement on digital currencies” before Turkey’s G20 conference in 2015.
Branson, a prominent bitcoin advocate, first announced his support for the Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association (ADCCA), the industry group behind the conference, late last month.
Opposing views on regulation
Through his Virgin.com blog post, titled How Digital Currency Could Transform the World, Branson maintains a neutral stance on bitcoin regulation.
He praises the ADCCA and its chairman Ron Tucker for their work on the regulatory front, pointing out that there is still work to be done on the thorny issue of ‘best practice’ regulations.
While some bitcoin proponents argue in favour of a self-regulatory model, there are also a number of arguments in favour of a “centrally governed rulebook”, he says.
Branson also explains how he thinks bitcoin could disrupt and improve traditional payment platforms:
“It’s important to note that while the established online payment systems will be disrupted by bitcoin, it also has a lot to gain from bitcoin’s presence. Services will be given the opportunity to make themselves more responsive and price competitive, who wouldn’t want to offer that to their customers?”
He concludes that the technology has the potential to lower costs and increase convenience, while the G20 Summit offers a “great opportunity to keep the conversation around digital currencies going”.
“Making sure that conversations around this are happening at the highest level will hopefully result in common sense reforms to areas such as taxation and law enforcement, which will be of real benefit to all concerned.”
The entrepreneur also elabourated on why he decided to back several companies involved in the digital currency space:
“I have invested in bitcoin because I believe in its potential, the capacity it has to transform global payments is very exciting. It has been obvious to us all for quite some time that people aren’t satisfied with the business as usual approach adopted by the major payment networks.”
He added that he hopes to become a part of the financial “democratisation” by investing in companies like Square and Blockchain. Bitcoin payment processor BitPay also received funding from Branson earlier this year.
The Virgin Group founder has come out in favour of bitcoin on several occasions, most recently in an interview with Bloomberg.
While there is a desire for more control, freedom and scrutiny over what happens with people’s money, Branson warns that bitcoin is not without its foibles:
“While many of us are excited about the possibilities Bitcoin has to offer, I’m not sure any of us would argue that it comes without problems.”
Richard Branson image via Prometheus72 / Shutterstock