Digital currencies aren't just the domain of the Winklevoss twins (who recently filed for an IPO for a Bitcoin fund), Wikileaks supporters (who supported Wikileaks support of Edward Snowden via Bitcoin donations), drug dealers or privacy-loving libertarians. In the near term, bankers need to understand the AML and BSA regulations around banking these regulatory-risky businesses.
Also in the threat-category: next-generation merchant acquirers like Bitinstant and Coinbase that are gaining traction with online merchants who love the 'no chargebacks' policy. In the longer term, though, digital currencies could be a seriously disruptive technology, as they're designed to dispense with trusted third parties in the exchange of value. That's an idea that seems far-fetched today, but is increasingly possible in the connected world.
The 2013 ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum will tackle Bitcoin, and other digital currency topics in its new "Digital Money" track, a new group of sessions devoted to educating bankers and payments executives about what's going on now, and what's to come, when it comes to digital currency. Session in the lineup will include: Bitcoin for Bankers: Virtual Currency Overview; Digital Money: Compliance and AML; The Merchant Perspective on Digital Money; and Beyond Bitcoin — Other New Monies.