Attitudes about Bitcoin were positive at meetings on two different continents last week between policymakers and industry stakeholders.
The French Senate Committee brought together representatives from the treasury department, the Bank of France, the Ministry of Finance’s anti-money laundering branch Tracfin (Traitement du renseignement et action contre les circuits financiers clandestins), DNRED (National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations), FING (Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération), and bitcoin exchange operator Paymium to discuss the risks surrounding virtual currencies. Although concerns about criminal activities and volatility were raised, authorities’ stance on bitcoin mirrors that of US policymakers. They determined that there is no need to make the currency illegal, and instead want to determine a proper way of regulating it that does not hamper innovation.
French authorities see virtual currencies as a kind of competition between economies like the US, Germany and UK, and feel France needs to catch up. Gonzague Grandval, co-founder and CEO of Paymium agreed, saying that Germany was outpacing France and suggested that the French probably do not want to be left behind, CoinDesk reported.
Also this week, Well Fargo held a closed-door summit in San Francisco with finance executives, virtual currency experts and US government representative to discuss “rules of engagement” for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, The Financial Times reported. The bank is interested in offering Bitcoin-related services or banking arrangements to virtual currency start-ups.
“We need to be sure we are up to speed with what other things are going on and their risks and rewards,” said John Stumpf, chairman, president and CEO of Wells Fargo. “The world is changing and will continue to change. Whether Bitcoin will be a big part of that, who knows?”
However, Wells Fargo, like most U.S. banks, is concerned about Bitcoin’s potential use in money laundering and other illegal activities. The bank appears to be working on a set of anti-money laundering principles for established banks who want to deal with virtual currency businesses.
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