The price of bitcoin may be falling compared to the meteoric heights of last year. But industry officials are not waiting for the next peak in investor demand to launch a charm offensive directed at federal legislators and regulators who have been interested in cryptocurrencies.
Technology veterans and a number of high-profile cryptocurrency companies said on Tuesday. the Blockchain Association is forming, the first group of lobbyists in Washington that represents entrepreneurs and investors who are building the technology behind bitcoins.
By participating in the initial push there are companies like Coinbase and Circle, which manage some of the most popular virtual currency exchanges, as well as the launch of Protocol Labs technology. Investors, such as the Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital, are also founding members.
The group has already made its first purchase: Kristin Smith, a former assistant to Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) who has lobbied about blockchain issues for Overstock.com, the online retailer who in 2014 started accepting bitcoin payments.
"I spent a lot of time doing a lot of basic training in this space," said Smith, who should lead the business group through its first steps. "I am excited to focus exclusively on these issues."
Politicians have been confronted in recent months with a series of cryptocurrency issues as investors have poured over bitcoins and other virtual currencies. The technology on which they are based raises new questions about financial regulation in the digital age – and in some cases consumers have become victims of scams that have attracted the attention of state and federal regulators. Congressional hearings on cryptocurrency and recent decisions by the Securities and Exchange Commission also highlighted the growing profile of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
The Blockchain Association intends to become the main lobbying organization in the cryptocurrency sector in Washington on political issues, portraying itself as a voice for traditional companies that want to work within the political system rather than evade it – as they did in passed companies like Uber and Airbnb.
One of its first priorities will be the way cryptocurrencies are treated according to US tax law and policymakers how the anti-money laundering and know-your-customer rules apply to the industry.
"The Blockchain Association is an effort to bring together prominent companies in space so that [policymakers] will know that they are listening to companies that welcome regulation when appropriate," said Mike Lempres, Chief Legal and Risk Officer at Coinbase. "We are not companies trying to play the system, but we are trying to develop a legal and regulatory system that will stand the test of time."
This is not the only time when blockchain supporters have tried to play Washington's game influence. Half a decade ago, organizations like the Bitcoin Foundation played a similar role. But it was a real organization, representative of industry and individual consumers; as a reflection group, a group of lobbyists and a standardization body, all in one.
Now, the field of cryptocurrency is much more developed, with distinct sectors and interest groups, said Jerry Brito, executive director of the Coin Center, a think tank based on Washington's cryptocurrency. To see the rise of a specific business group by purpose is a sign of the industry's growing maturity, he added.
"We are happy to see this organization stand up," said Brito. "Number one … it's nice to have more voices that defend for the things we're on agreement with, but probably more important to us, many people project the" category association "on Coin Center, and we do not know it decisively, the industry, we can send them to these people. "