U.S. Agencies to say Bitcoins Offer Legitimate Benefits

Bloomberg
Nov. 18, 2013

The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are telling a U.S. Senate committee that Bitcoins are legitimate financial instruments, boosting prospects for wider acceptance of the virtual currency.

Representatives from the agencies told the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ahead of a hearing today that the digital money offers benefits and carries risks, like any other online-payment system, according to letters they released before the meeting.

The committee scheduled the hearing “to explore potential promises and risks related to virtual currency for the federal government and society at large” after the Silk Road Hidden Website was shut down in October. The closing of the marketplace, where people could obtain drugs, guns and other illicit goods using Bitcoins, is helping fuel a rally in the virtual currency as speculators bet that the digital money will gain more mainstream acceptance.

“The FBI’s approach to virtual currencies is guided by a recognition that online payment systems, both centralized and decentralized, offer legitimate financial services,” Peter Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter yesterday. “Like any financial service, virtual currency system of either type can be exploited by malicious actors, but centralized and decentralized online payment systems can vary significantly in the types and degrees of illicit financial risk they pose.”

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