Bitcoin payment processor and wallet provider Coinbase announced today it has recruited John G. Collins as its Head of Government Affairs.
Collins’ US Capitol experience includes serving as a senior adviser to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, acting as a subject matter expert and principal adviser on issues relating to digital currencies, emerging payment systems, and critical infrastructure security. Prior to that, Collins managed Delaware Senator Tom Carper’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.
In a company blog post, Coinbase stated that John Collins “will engage with and educate public officials and lawmakers about bitcoin, and help drive an informed discussion around public policy that protects consumers without stifling the incredible innovation we’re seeing at all levels across the bitcoin community.”
“Bitcoin is an extremely powerful technology,” said Fred Ehrsam, a co-founder of Coinbase, to The New York Times’ DealBook blog. “As the leader in the space, our main goal is to educate people who are going to form the regulations around it in its formative years so its potential remains.”
DealBook reports that Coinbase’s moves come as Bitcoin startups have not been certain of what prospective regulations will be coming. For example, in July New York became the first US state to issue proposed rules for digital currency firms. The public comment period on the BitLicense regulations is slated to end next week. The digital currency has caught the eye of other prominent regulatory agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As changes are proposed, Coinbase has attempted to persuade regulation of its perspective on new Bitcoin policies. Coinbase representatives have met with various US government agencies, such as the IRS and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, to help inform discussions regarding digital currency, said Ehrsam.
DealBook reports that Coinbase’s desire to play a part in the regulatory conversation is motivated partly by self-interest. As a payment processor and wallet provider, Coinbase’s core businesses are in some ways dependent on how government agencies decide to treat Bitcoin. However, Coinbase insists it is trying to preserve the digital currency’s core values and ensure it continues to be an open platform that anyone can use.
Collins told DealBook that he wants to “build a larger coalition of folks,” including government officials, who understand Bitcoin’s potential. One important task will be to educate regulators about Bitcoin so they adopt rules that protect customers without hindering innovation.
“Coinbase’s whole mission is to really make Bitcoin easy to understand and easy to use,” said Collins. “We really do believe that this technology has a lot of promise in this sector and other sectors.”