The dust around regulation of Bitcoin is starting to settle, the founder of Bitcoin finance company Circle said, with the US government’s relatively friendly stance toward the cryptocurrency apparent in last week’s auction of bitcoins seized from online marketplace Silk Road.
Bidding opened (and closed) on Friday in the US Marshals Service’s 12-hour auction of nearly 30,000 bitcoins that were confiscated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it shut down Silk Road, a marketplace notorious for facilitating criminal transactions such as drug trafficking, last October.
The way the American government structured the sale of the bitcoins shows that it, alongside investors, is settling into a reasonable understanding and treatment of cryptocurrency, said Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Monday.
“[They are] doing it in a very controlled manner; they’re not flooding the market. They’re creating an opportunity for institutional investors, which is a big deal,” Allaire said, according to the newspaper.
The results of the auction, which a spokesman for the US Marshals Service (USMS) said drew 45 registered bidders and received 63 bids, was due to be finalized Monday. However, the USMS will not declare any of the bidding prices or announce the winner of the auction, leaving it up to the winner to advertise their victory. As of Tuesday, no winner has publicly announced their bid.
Several big-name financial players bid on the bitcoins, worth nearly $US 19 million, including SecondMarket and US investment firm Pantera Capital, but the companies said Monday that their bids were unsuccessful. Bitcoin prices, meanwhile, were up 6.8% on Monday at about $US 639, according to transaction database blockchain.info, rising in anticipation of the auction results.
The varied market interest in the auction (from private investors to large corporations), Allaire said, illustrated the serious notice the financial community is starting to take of the cryptocurrency sector.
“What we’re hearing is that some of the big broker dealers on Wall Street are setting up small trading desks just to get exposure to the asset and understand it,” he said in the interview. “That’s the approach now as opposed to a year ago when people thought governments would never allow it, and banks just wanted it to go away. All of the major banks now have teams trying to make sense of bitcoin.”
The auction is also a sign of how regulation is becoming increasingly clearer, Allaire said.
“All of the major banks now have teams trying to make sense of Bitcoin.”
“A year ago, most governments and big banks frankly just wanted bitcoin to go away,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “So now people are saying: ‘it’s not going to go away and there’s big money coming into this, this is a real innovation, we need to get our heads wrapped around it, and we need to figure out whatever rules we’re going to wrap around it,’” he said.
According to blockchain.info, the market value of the 29,656.51306529 bitcoins up for sale in the auction is around $18.8 million.