Big banks jumping on bitcoin bandwagon

bigbanks09 Mar 2014 / Marketwatch – Many major Wall Street banks are trying to understand bitcoin, the virtual currency that has gained interest in the last few years, and how it could change the global payment system, say industry experts.

“What we have learned is that many of the banks have individuals and teams now focused on getting to know bitcoin and how it impact the business,” said Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of SecondMarket, which is working on creating a U.S.-based bitcoin exchange and an investor in Bitcoin companies.

Silbert was speaking at a panel discussion at the MarketWatch Investing Insights event “Bitcoin: Boom and Bust” late Tuesday in New York.

Banks are trying to understand what a digital-currency world looks like from an infrastructure perspective, noted Silbert.

Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency that has been trumpeted as a faster and cheaper alternative to existing payments systems and has attracted the interest of high-profile venture capitalists. Some even say it has the potential to be a widely used currency. But it isn’t regulated and a prominent bitcoin exchange shut down last month after hackers stole all its customers’ bitcoins, leaving users with little recourse and raising concerns about security.

On Friday, Japan’s government said bitcoin isn’t a currency or a financial product and will be treated like other goods and services. Prices of bitcoin, meanwhile, have swung from $13 in early 2013 to above $1,000 in November and back down to around $625 on Friday….. Read more

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