We're on the verge of a defining moment in the drama-filled life of Bitcoin.
In light of all the troubling issues that have plagued the digital currency over the past year or so, some think Bitcoin regulation would help limit its use for illicit purposes while adding an air of legitimacy.
But others warn that too much Bitcoin regulation too soon could discourage startups and snuff out innovation.
What is not in question is that some level of Bitcoin regulation is very much on the radar of government, both in the United States as well as overseas.
Governments that fear and dislike the decentralized nature of Bitcoin have already taken drastic steps against the digital currency.
In China, it's been almost impossible to exchange yuan for Bitcoin since December, though it is still legal to trade it. In January, Canada ruled that Bitcoin "is not legal tender." And just this month, both Russia and Indonesia have banned Bitcoin outright, citing its use for illegal activities.
The United States, somewhat surprisingly, has so far taken a more measured approach to Bitcoin regulation. Top regulators at both the federal and state level do want to create safeguards, but haven't made any rash moves because even they recognize the powerful economic potential of the digital currency.
"Our objective is to provide appropriate guardrails to protect consumers and root out money laundering – without stifling beneficial innovation," Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, said at a recent Washington conference on digital currencies.
That's much easier said than done, because writing Bitcoin regulations is in many ways new territory. Just as the Internet and e-commerce has posed many new challenges to lawmakers and regulators, so does digital currency.
While some Bitcoin regulation is clearly needed, a bunch of poorly conceived, ham-fisted rules would only make matters worse.
Here's where things stand now…
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.