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Update On Bitcoin Foundation Trip To Washington DC

[heading]Update On Bitcoin Foundation Trip To Washington DC[/heading]

The pleasant thing about Bitcoin, perhaps the most important, is its’ ability to bring people together across diverse backgrounds. The last two days in Washington DC proved just that, as The Bitcoin Foundation was invited to a meeting with some of the US’s top agencies, as GoldSilverBitcoin reported here.

The sober perspective on the meeting is that it is something that happens all the time. The Bitcoin Foundation was not issued a subpoena. The tone of the meeting was one of men with different worldviews, at least in many cases, coming together to discuss something some knew much about, and the others did not. According to the following account, it was a peaceful endeavoring.

MSantori had this to say in the Bitcoin Talk forum about the meeting, which he attended.

As many of you know, in addition to being an attorney in private practice, I am Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation’s Regulatory Affairs Committee.

The Foundation was invited to a private conference held yesterday by FinCEN in Washington, D.C.  In attendance were high-level representatives from FinCEN, IRS, FDIC, Federal Reserve, OCC, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and more.  It was a packed house.  FinCEN did an impressive job of bringing together in one room nearly all of the agency stakeholders in the Bitcoin issue.

At the conference, Patrick Murck, Peter Vessenes, Brian Klein, Jim Harper and I each gave presentations totaling about an hour.  We canvassed Bitcoin the protocol, bitcoins the currency, regulatory challenges, enforcement and investigation methodologies – everything under the Bitcoin sun.  We then responded to questions from the agency representatives for about an hour.  Our goal was to begin a frank dialogue with the federal government about Bitcoin and dispel some of the publicly-available misinformation.

It was a smashing success.  

First and foremost, we received a very friendly reception.  The attendees were engaged and interested in learning about distributed finance in general and Bitcoin in particular.  Each Foundation member lit the subject matter through his own lens.  Peter walked the government through a discussion of the core technology.  Brian, an ex-federal prosecutor, discussed investigative methodologies.

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.

Our message was straightforward: It is critical that the industry and the regulators work together to create a safe and sane regulatory environment for Bitcoin businesses in the United States.

To be sure, they asked the tough questions.  The agencies have some very real and legitimate concerns.  We often had to give the tough answers.  By the time we were through, though, many of the representatives approached me and some the other presenters to say that they had a much better understanding of the industry and the technology.  I don’t think anyone believes we achieved world peace, or solved the regulatory challenges once and for all.  

We started a dialogue – the first step in understanding each other.

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