By Paul Vigna
Bitcoin may be getting some rules this year.
New York state’s top financial regulator plans to proposed rules this year for bitcoin businesses operating within the state, as the first of two days of hearings on virtual currencies gets underway.
Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, said in his opening remarks released to the press that he expects the department will “put forward, during the course of 2014, a proposed regulatory framework for virtual currency firms operating in New York.” Mr. Lawsky said this would make New York the first state to create such a framework, and given the state’s stature in the financial world, this would be a key development for bitcoin.
Hardcore libertarians may howl at any regulation, but the currency’s future depends upon consumer adoptions, and consumers will be more inclined to adopt something if they know there are some rules and regulations safeguarding their money. Given bitcoin’s notorious reputation as a haven for money laundering and drug smuggling (Mr. Lawsky himself noted the arrest yesterday of a prominent bitcoin entrepreneur on just those charges), oversight is an inevitability.