Bitcoin Roundup: Federal Hearings, Another Hack—and a Milestone (Nov. 11, 2013)
Bitcoin has been making news on a regular basis recently as lawmakers and businesses around the globe deal with the virtual currency’s rapid rise. The past few days have added to the frenzy with a flurry of developments that could help shape Bitcoin’s future.
Late last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) indicated it could soon begin allowing political donations to be made in bitcoins. In a draft opinion responding to a September request from the Conservation Action Fund (CAF), the FEC’s lawyers said the CAF and other political groups may accept bitcoins as in-kind contributions to political campaigns. However, bitcoins must then be converted to dollars before being distributed to a campaign’s coffers. The public is invited to submit written comments on the draft opinion before the FEC meets on Nov. 13 to hold further discussions on the proposal.
Meanwhile, another government Bitcoin hearing will be held on Nov. 18, when the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs will meet to consider how Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are affecting law enforcement and banking. The committee will hear from two separate panels—one comprised of U.S. law enforcement agents and another made of members of the Bitcoin community. Bitcoin has been at the center of several high-profile crimes, including last month’s shutdown of the Silk Road Website, which allegedly enabled users to purchase illegal drugs and launder money using the currency. Also in October, users of Web-based Bitcoin wallet Inputs.io lost more than $1.2 million when hackers gained access to the systems of the wallet’s developer, Tradefortress. In a statement on the Tradefortress Website, the company said it is using its own money to help users recoup as much as they can.
Despite the negative press, however, there are signs the Bitcoin craze won’t be slowing anytime soon. Last week, the currency reached a new all-time high on Japan-based Mt. Gox, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, hitting a value of $267.40 per bitcoin. Over the weekend, e-commerce Website Shopify announced it would soon be accepting Bitcoin at checkout for the 17,000 online stores that use the platform. And today, Singapore-based Bitcoin payment processor GoCoin announced it has raised $550,000 to expand its business in Asia and South America.