Fancy Future Money Attracts Regulators’ Attention

After a federal judge ruled last week that Bitcoin is a real currency, regulators are taking more interest.  New York State’s Department of Financial Services has subpoenaed several firms which trade in the digital currency.

In a memo, Department Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky noted the issues of largely untraceable transactions:

If virtual currencies remain a virtual Wild West for narcotraffickers and other criminals, that would not only threaten our country’s national security, but also the very existence of the virtual currency industry as a legitimate business enterprise.

Indeed, it is in the common interest of both the public and the virtual currency industry to bring virtual currencies out of the darkness and into the light of day through enhanced transparency. It is vital to put in place appropriate safeguards for consumers and law abiding citizens.

(Amazingly, the word “virtual” appears five times in those two paragraphs.)

Congress is poking around as well.  Government entities’ interest make sense: transactions using bitcoins offer possible shields not only from law enforcement agencies, but from tax collectors as well.

Like Federation Credits, Altairian dollars, or Spacebucks, Bitcoin was a made-up currency; it was hatched by anonymous developers.  Unlike the money of the sci-fi universes, though, Bitcoin has legitimate acceptance from consumers and financiers - and now, the recognition of governments.

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