Coin Center, an educational and research institution, today launched its website with the aim of focusing on public policy issues facing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Coin Center, “a new voice for Bitcoin,” announced the launch of its website and its mission:
“To build a better understanding of the technology in order to promote a regulatory climate that preserves maximum freedom of action for digital currency innovation.”
While the organization is not affiliated with any particular Bitcoin company, product, or initiative, Coin Center’s focus is on engagement, education, research: doing what it can to ensure policy-makers have adequate information about the possibilities and potential of Bitcoin such that a favorable climate for innovation exists and thrives. If Coin Center is effective in doing what it says it will do, knee-jerk reactions in the field of legislation could become fewer and far between.
What the Future Holds
Much remains to be seen regarding the future of blockchain technology. Which blockchain app will be the killer app? These are areas of Bitcoin that no one, try as we might, can accurately predict. Fortunately, when it comes to the blockchain, accurate prediction is not required. Innovation is, in order for the technology to morph into its full potential. It’s advantageous to have that innovation take place in an environment that’s amenable to innovators, tech nerds and tinkerers.
Coin Center seeks to fill that space and defines success in accomplishing their mission here:
“Success for us is a world in which regulators, the media, and the public understand what cryptocurrency technologies are (and aren’t) and why they’re important. A world in which technologists can continue to enjoy the freedom to tinker. A world in which entrepreneurs can confidently make the promise of cryptocurrency a reality for consumers.”
There’s a 3-part challenge when it comes to regulating Bitcoin:
- Ignorance – most people still don’t know what a Bitcoin is, or what it does, including regulators. The regulators themselves have asked to be educated about Bitcoin.
- Misinformation – even worse than not knowing anything is knowing bad information. There are still far too many people who are convinced that Bitcoin is only for buying drugs online, or who have gotten their hands on a tiny morsel of misinformation and ran with it.
- Security – is it safe to buy, hold, use and store Bitcoin is a question the industry is still answering in the wake of recent hacks, including the Bitstamp hack.
Any and all of these challenges could easily lead to “the pain of over-regulation or irrational regulation…” to quote former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. To be sure, over-regulation, irrational regulation, and hasty regulation can all create unintended and deleterious side effects.
In all fairness, innovators don’t want regulators in their hair; if and when the innovations go south and people cry foul or lose funds, then the law is called into the fray.
Coin Center’s Connections and Funding
The organization does appear to be well connected to achieve its mission. Coin Center was asked to moderate a panel of regulators including CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen, FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt. The panel provided a peek inside the minds of regulators who seem to have halting money laundering and the funding of terrorist activities as their chief aim (or at least their chief claim).
Funding for the organization has come from venture capitalists in the Bitcoin space as well as companies who have generously donated to get Coin Center off the ground. Donations are accepted here to help the organization do critical education work in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Images from Coincenter.org and Shutterstock.