This week members of the Bitcoin Foundation had a series of meetings with regulators and law makers in DC.
On Monday 5 Foundation members, Marco Santori, Patrick Murck, Peter Vessenes, Brian Klein and Jim Harper, met with representatives from a number of US agencies including FinCEN, IRS, FDIC, Federal Reserve, OCC, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Murck, who is general counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, said all parties at the meeting had a “productive and frank” discussion about digital currency. “It was a positive first step for the industry in creating an open and on-going dialog. I left feeling very encouraged that we were able to dispel some myths and misinformation about how the bitcoin protocol works.”
Another attendee, Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at Cato Institute, shared this sentiment.
He said a number of topics were discussed at the meeting, which was held at US treasury building in Washington DC, including privacy, law enforcement and how government controls have the potential to strangle the industry before it has even had the chance to really get going.
“We talked about how the weight of regulation in the US can, and does, drive bitcoin service providers to move outside of the country,” Harper explained.
He suggested the Bitcoin Foundation was able to set the record straight on a number of digital currency-related issues, and that explaining what exactly the blockchain is and how it works largely dispelled the idea that there is some “magical secrecy” to bitcoin.
Marco Santori also commented on the meeting via BitcoinTalk
I, of course, discussed regulatory challenges. I discussed some of the ways in which the regulatory landscape in the US did not achieve the government’s policy goals. In particular, I spent a few minutes just going through the ambiguity in the March FinCEN Guidance, and emphasized the importance of supporting innovation in the Bitcoin industry. I hit some points very hard – like how the regulatory environment has disincentivized businesses from launching in the US and from servicing US customers. I also discussed how some businesses were simply picking up and leaving the US entirely.
Tuesday, in another meeting at Capitol Hill, Foundation members Peter Vessenes, Patrick Murck and Marco Santori meet with representatives from the offices of several congressmen and senators.
Santori, who is chair of the foundation’s Regulatory Affairs Committee, said the attendees raised a number of concerns including privacy and anti-money laundering issues, but most just wanted to know how the protocol works.
There were also people at the meeting who had a very in-depth understanding of bitcoin. Santori said he was surprised to find there were a few attendees who knew more about bitcoin than he did.