We’re 70% to our fall fundraiser goal of 2,000 donations by midnight Friday. Give Now

A fluid Bitcoin community, but not a silent one

Kate Davidson Aug 26, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A fluid Bitcoin community, but not a silent one

Kate Davidson Aug 26, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The federal government has for a while now been trying to figure out how to regulate Bitcoin. The Treasury, the Fed and others met about it with the Bitcoin Foundation Monday. 

The five paid employees of the Bitcoin Foundation are true believers. Assistant Director Lindsay Holland says they even get paid in Bitcoin, though the exchange rate has been volatile.

So I know exactly how much Bitcoin I’m gonna get every month,” she says. “But I’m not sure how much that’s going to exchange out for me until the date that I receive it.”

The Bitcoin Foundation is made up of businesses and hundreds of individuals. They join by paying a membership fee — in Bitcoin, of course. In addition to advocacy, the group provides an infrastructure for people to talk about Bitcoin’s open source code.

Bitcoin’s community is fluid but not opaque, says Jerry Brito of George Mason University, who prepared an earlier briefing for policymakers. He says the structure of Bitcoin does not need to be a challenge for regulators.

Because the people who are part of the Bitcoin community are very responsive,” he says. “They meet with regulators. We know who these people are and they chat.”

Sure, it’s not as easy as meeting with, say, VISA, but the Bitcoin Foundation does have a board its members vote for. Jason King is one of those members. Amid all the concerns about the illicit uses of virtual currencies, King founded a homeless outreach program called Sean’s Outpost in Pensacola, Florida. It gets lots of donations from the Bitcoin network.

We just fed our 13,000th meal, paid for with Bitcoin,” he says. “So yeah, it’s definitely making a real impact here.”

Of course, the Bitcoin Foundation doesn’t speak for every Bitcoin user out there. Which is why regulators are so keen to better understand the system and to regulate it.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

The clock is ticking⏳ 

Time is running out to make a gift to Marketplace and help us meet our fall fundraiser goal of 2,000 donations by midnight Friday.