Art by: Jing Jin
BitPay—one of, if not the world's largest Bitcoin payment processor—is heading to Capitol Hill with the Treasury Department in its sights.
The news was quietly announced on Bitpay's Twitter and Instagram pages yesterday. The reason for the meeting is not immediately clear, although an education mission seems most likely. It is also unclear whether they were invited by the Treasury Department, or whether they decided to send representatives to Washington on their own accord. We have reached out to Bitpay for comment and will update this space as necessary.
Today we discuss #bitcoin with the US Treasury Department @ U.S. Department of the Treasury t.co/GRdTsgp1TA— BitPay (@BitPay) January 22, 2015
More cryptocurrency companies are looking to put themselves in advantageous positions, as the industry slowly attracts the attention of regulators. Ripple, as we previously reported, has added Gene Sperling, who has some serious political connections, to its Board of Directors.
It is something that can be called a general trend in the cryptocurrency space. As the government moves in to regulate cryptocurrencies, more related companies are figuring out the best way to work with those regulators.
For obvious reasons, many of the powerful in Washington have misconceptions about Bitcoin and other digital currencies. There are already two vocal and visible groups lobbying on behalf of Bitcoin—the Bitcoin Foundation and the Chamber of Digital Commerce. Having companies like BitPay lobby Congress directly is a different beast altogether, however, and has both advantages and disadvantages.
When a company lobbies Congress, the vast majority of the time those lobbyists are working for the company themselves. In the worst case scenario, BitPay would be doing exactly that: Pressuring Congress to enact regulations (or not) based on how the regulations would affect BitPay itself and its competitors. In this situation, BitPay would be in favor of regulation that affects new companies, but can be handled by established companies like itself.
Another scenario, one more likely, in this reporter's opinion, is that BitPay understands the importance of freedom and decentralization in Bitcoin. Ideally, they understand that regulation designed to help BitPay, while hurting their competitors, will have a negative effect on Bitcoin and ultimately, on BitPay.
The reason this scenario seems more likely is because BitPay clearly understands that its own success is tied directly to Bitcoin's. Without a healthy Bitcoin market, BitPay itself doesn't have a healthy market. This philosophy was showcased when BitPay elected to name the St. Petersburg Bowl the “Bitcoin Bowl” as opposed to the “BitPay Bowl.” BitPay understood that Bitcoin's success is critical to their own success and that they must put it above their own short-term goals. One would hope that they are entering Washington, D.C. with the same attitude.
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