A Bitcoin ATM in Toronto

The newly-enacted Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC), a bitcoin lobbying group, brought more than thirty professionals from the bitcoin industry to Capitol Hill on August 29 in an effort to spread awareness about the digital currency.

The CDC’s goal is to provide information to lawmakers and the general public about the bitcoin technology in order to begin having more informed policy discussions. Recently, the CDC registered a political action committee with the Federal Election Committee in preparation for next year’s lobbying efforts.

Congressional Bitcoin Education Day consisted of CDC representatives speaking with the staff of six congressional committees: Financial Services; Science, Space and Technology; Agriculture; Small Business; Energy and Commerce; and Ways and Means. Congressional staffers were presented with documents providing an overview of the bitcoin technology as well as the digital currency industry.

The effort has been, in part, aimed at countering the general skepticism of Congress towards bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The CDC’s lobbying may also be an attempt to influence the proposed BitLicense regulatory framework that was issued for public comment by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

The digital currency industry is concerned with the potentially stifling effects that regulations may have on the growth and innovation of the industry, and ultimately the industry’s future. A number of digital currency industry participants have also said that the rules assist its competitors, such as major financial institutions and payment services.

The concerns are clearly laid out in the comments that have been submitted to the NYDFS regarding its BitLicense proposal. Among the submissions were letters from the CDC [pdf], Circle, Xapo, and the three largest bitcoin exchanges in China. Xapo has even threatened to avoid New York customers if the state passes its BitLicense regulations. The concerns of the industry seem to have been recognized by the NYDFS as it extended its comment period for its BitLicense regulations by 45 days.

The future of the digital currency industry will be affected by regulations and the CDC’s role in lobbying will become more important as states and agencies continue to pass laws and regulations.

–Brenan Salgado

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