A new advocacy group seeking to be the great mediator in the world of Bitcoin regulation officially launched yesterday – but what could this really mean for the currency?
The unveiling of long-time Bitcoin advocator Jerry Brito’s Coin Center has already received a fair few accolades. Dubbed by Brito as “an organization that can be a trusted and credible source of information about the regulatory implications of digital currencies,” its ream of high-profile members and prolific funding sources suggest a vote of confidence which may strike many as unexpected.
Coin Center’s goal is to be a voice for Bitcoin at regulatory level, increasing its foothold in the financial ecosystem via educative means. Both policymakers and the public should be educated about Bitcoin’s core technology, and how its application in various forms can be a step in the right direction.
Brito, who has been publicly raising awareness of Bitcoin in the media since 2011, has some impressive support. Members on board include Mosaic coauthor and Netscape cofounder entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, economist Professor Susan Athey and even Bitcoin core developer Jeff Garzik. At funding level, extant Bitcoin startups BitPay, Coinbase, BitGo and Xapo join a lengthy list of private and corporate investors, a press release issued Thursday confirms.
“Our mission is to build a better understanding of these technologies and to promote a regulatory climate that preserves maximum freedom of action for digital currency innovation,” Brito writes.
“We will do this by producing and publishing policy research from respected academics and experts, educating policymakers and the media about block chain technology, and by engaging in advocacy for sound public policy.”
- Jerry Brito
The vote of confidence in Coin Center will no doubt inspire many to consider the role of the hitherto overarching organization charged with Bitcoin advocacy, the Bitcoin Foundation.
The two entities’ characteristics are decidedly contrasting. While Coin Center will also be run as a non-profit, its yearly budget thanks to investment is US$1 million. It is this ‘serious’ financial interest which is becoming a talking point around Coin Center, while the Foundation in comparison has never had the luxury of being cash-rich.
“Bitcoin Think Tank Coin Center Launches with Star-Studded Support” was the headline carried by CoinDesk upon the news becoming public, while even the lay community such as Reddit has been partially convinced by the benefactors involved.
Garzik, who has also been a contributor to the Bitcoin Foundation blog, meanwhile told CoinDesk that “new policy research and study is needed” in the field and that “the time was really right for this effort.”
The Foundation itself has had a rocky 2014, but whether Coin Center will have the ability or intention to eclipse its role to any extent is by no means clear as yet.
“This think tank will serve to be an interesting alternative to the Digital Chamber of Commerce and The Bitcoin Foundation,” Nathan Wosnack told Cointelegraph. “While I'm not a supporter of any government regulation whatsoever in relation to crypto currencies of any kind, I see regulation as an inevitability within the next 18 months in the US. Therefore a public policy organization like Coin Center who are represented by people in our space who are developers, investors, spokespersons, evangelists may be a necessity.”
Wosnack noted however that there are “concerns” regarding the issue of debt owed to investors, and how this issue could potentially play out in their ability to affect Coin Center’s activities.
Meanwhile, the Foundation’s Jinyoung Lee Englund told Cointelegraph that Brito’s new project will allow it to focus on its operations in the European Union and that it “welcomes the reinforcements”.
“Jerry’s new role at the U.S. focused Coin Center will enable him to focus full-time on Bitcoin's pathway to adoption here in the U.S. and will complement our existing efforts in Washington nicely,” she said.
“While we continue to educate and advise in D.C., […] our policy efforts have since extended beyond the U.S. to include providing policymakers and regulators in Europe with education, materials and expert guidance on this transformative technology.”
Update Friday, Sept. 19:
“The digital assets and currency industry has an enormous amount of work to do in Washington to assist pubic policymakers to understand the nature and potential of these innovative and dynamic technologies," said Perianne Boring, president and founder of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, in the official press press release. "The Digital Chamber is delighted to welcome an additional voice for Bitcoin to Washington. With 435 Congressional and 100 Senate offices and more than 10 federal agencies and departments with jurisdiction over digital currencies, there are a lot of policymakers to engage with."
"We’re looking forward to working with Jerry Brito, formerly senior research director of the Mercatus Institute of George Mason University, as Coin Center’s executive director to advance the policy community’s understanding."
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