A Bitcoin trade group will meet today with the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and an array of law-enforcement officials and regulators to discuss oversight of the digital currency.
Members of the Bitcoin Foundation will brief representatives of federal agencies including the FBI, IRS, Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Secret Service on the nature of the virtual currency, created four years ago.
"It's a kickoff of engagement," said Peter Vessenes, chairman of the foundation's board, who said that the meeting will be "standing-room only," because of the high interest among government officials. "Right now, law enforcement would read a salacious story, and not know what's going on. We can help them understand what's going on."
It will be a "routine" meeting, said Stephen Hudak, a spokesman for Fincen, which released guidance in March saying digital-currency administrators and exchangers are considered money-services business subject to regulations and anti-money- laundering controls.
Bitcoin Foundation, a Seattle-based group that promotes the currency, seeks to improve standardization and security for the "non-political online money," according to its website. Vessenes described today's meeting as an "educational meet-and-greet."
The group is "coming in to talk to regulators, law enforcement and Treasury officials this afternoon as part of our ongoing dialogue with virtual currency providers," said John Sullivan, a Treasury Department spokesman, in a telephone interview.
The OCC will send three staff members to the "informational presentation," said Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the agency, which regulates national banks.
New York's top banking regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, sent subpoenas to 22 digital-currency companies, including BitInstant LLC and Dwolla Corp., to determine whether new regulations should be adopted to govern the emerging industry, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Senate's Homeland Security Committee is also examining possible risks of the virtual currency, it told regulators in a letter earlier this month that sought information on their oversight.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who gained fame after the brothers' legal clash with Facebook Inc. co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg over the origin of the social network, filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission to create the Winkelvoss Bitcoin Trust -- a variation of an exchange-traded fund that would hold Bitcoins.