Bitcoin Woos Washington to Ensure Lawmakers Don’t Kill Industry

capitolhill08 Jan 2014 / Businessweek – Bitcoin advocates entered Washington a year ago with the shadow of a federal criminal investigation cast over the virtual currency industry.

Their first mission: Win over, or at least not alarm, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, called Fincen.

“Our first reaction, particularly when I was on the law enforcement side, when we had something new was ‘Huge risk! Huge risk for money laundering. It’s bad!’” Fincen Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in an interview this week. “But we’re the Department of the Treasury, we can’t have that knee-jerk of a response.”

In March, Fincen issued rules stating that Bitcoin businesses may be considered money transmitters, which must abide by anti-money-laundering laws. The industry welcomed the move because it provided a road map for complying with regulations, and helped erode Bitcoin’s reputation as an enabler of illicit transactions.

That was the “starting-gun shot” of Bitcoin’s activities in Washington, said Marco Santori, chairman of the Seattle-based Bitcoin Foundation’s regulatory affairs committee, who said he met with Shasky Calvery.

After starting 2013 with no Washington presence, Bitcoin now has its own foundation and industry representatives as ambassadors to Capitol Hill. It’s being courted for business by professional lobbyists.

Bitcoin Buzz

Adrian Fenty, Washington’s former mayor now with the legal firm Perkins Coie, is helping develop a political strategy, at the same time fans of Ron Paul, a former libertarian-leaning Republican who ran for president in 2012, are turning up the buzz around Bitcoin….. Read more

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