Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) CEO, Jason Oxman, indicated that members of his organization might start recognizing Bitcoin's disruptive potential, suggesting that this might lead to more partnerships between traditional electronic payment providers and Bitcoin startups.
On August 6, the ETA, which represents companies like Visa, MasterCard, Amazon and PayPal, welcomed BitPay, the first virtual currency company to become an ETA member, according to the press release. The announcement expressed the ETA's commitment to embrace new technologies, and said to expect "more such partnerships as the payments industry innovates for the future.”
In a recent interview with CoinDesk, the head of the financial trade group specified that the ETA did not advocate for Bitcoin and had not taken an official position to the detriment of others technologies, stating that his support extended equally to all forms of electronic transactions.
However, Oxman highlighted their recent partnership with Atlanta-based Bitcoin payment solutions provider BitPay as evidence that the ETA "will not turn a blind eye to innovation.” Oxman said to be seeking to frame his organization as one that is open to work with emerging tech startups, including Bitcoin-related companies, adding that his choices depended largely on the demand:
"At bottom, our industry is in the business of facilitating electronic transactions, and those electronic transactions are going to take the form of whatever the customer or merchant of choice agrees is going to be the form of their electronic transaction."
- ETA CEO, Jason Oxman
Oxman added that the Bitcoin Foundation played a major role in educating the ETA on the benefits of Bitcoin, highlighting the advantages of strategic partnerships between Bitcoin startups and companies in the electronic payment industry. Referring to an ETA event in 2013 where Bitcoin Foundation's general counsel Patrick Murck spoke, Oxman noted:
"[Murck] did a good job of putting a business-focused backing to bitcoin. With that kind of introduction, our members look to bitcoin as an interesting development in the industry, and at least one of our members has seen fit to strike a deal with a bitcoin processor."
Oxman also commented on NY's BitLicense proposal, noting that in the past, the ETA had to pave the way for new payment options such as PayPal, spending most of its time ensuring that the Government doesn’t constrain innovations. However, Oxman understands the Government's reaction, explaining that regulators were most worried about customer protection:
"In the world of new payments technologies, any regulators are going to ask questions about the level of consumer protection available through alternative payment systems. The less those systems are established and deployed, the more regulators are going to feel compelled to step in and protect consumers where those protections are not otherwise available."
Even tough Oxman said to understand both sides of the BitLicense proposal issue, he thinks that the NYDFS should conduct more research on Bitcoin:
"I do think that it’s important to sound a cautionary note that regulators should not apply reflexive rules just because something is new. What they should do instead – hopefully New York will undertake this, but the early signs are cause for concern – they should take a real in-depth look at how bitcoin’s systems operates, how the block chain operates, how bitcoin providers like bitcoin processors take additional steps to protect consumers, to protect merchants."
Earlier this week, New York's Department of Financial Services superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, extended the public comment period on the BiLicense proposal by 45 days, postponing the deadline to October 21. This action followed the joint letter from BTC China, Huobi and OkCoin where the "Big three" addressed to Lawsky their comments and concerns about the regulatory proposal.
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