N.Y. Regulators Seek Digital Currency Laws that Preserve Innovation; Money2020 Announces Bitcoin Focus in 2014 (Feb. 10, 2014)
A recent hearing before N.Y. State officials outlined the possible road map toward government regulation of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The N.Y. State Department of Financial Services (DFS)—which has been investigating digital currencies since August—heard from Bitcoin startups, law enforcement officials and academics during the proceedings, conducted by Benjamin Lawsky, DFS superintendent. Lawsky expressed support for Bitcoin in his opening remarks, noting that the digital currency could “have a number of benefits for our financial system” and “a profound impact on the future of payments technology.” But Lawsky went on to call for new regulations specifically tailored for digital currency, rather than relying on decades old money transmission rules. “The question, then, is what type of licensing, examination and collateral requirements for the virtual [digital] currency industry will provide appropriate guardrails to protect consumers and our national security, without stifling beneficial innovation,” said Lawsky.
During the hearing, members of the Bitcoin community expressed support for new rules, but warned that over-regulation could hinder development of Bitcoin by placing the constant threat of shutdown over the heads of startups. To combat the possible stifling effect of regulation, Fred Wilson, a partner with Union Square Ventures, suggested a “safe harbor” approach, under which startups could navigate the complexities of the licensing process for a set period of time without worrying about being shut down.
While Bitcoin has received a mixed response from regulators around the world, support from businesses like Zynga coupled with consumer demand have helped drive up the currency’s value, which topped the $1,000 mark earlier this year. Even PayPal’s President David Marcus called Bitcoin’s future bright once the regulatory framework becomes clearer. Although the price of Bitcoin has dropped in recent days, support continues for the potentially disruptive technology.
The latest example of support is from Money2020, which today announced, (Bit)coinWorld, which will be part of the conference in 2014. (Bit)coinWorld, which includes a dedicated agenda track, is a platform where leaders in distributed payment protocols and crypto-currencies and leaders responsible for driving commerce innovation can interact, learn and forge critical partnerships, according to the announcement.
“By adding (Bit)coinWorld as a key element of this year’s Money2020, we’re expanding our coverage of technology that we believe has real disruptive potential,” said Simran R. Aggarwal, co-founder and president of Money2020. The conference, which debuted in 2012, began accepting bitcoins as payment for sponsorships in early 2013. For 2014, it’s broadening acceptance to include attendee registrations once integrations are complete.