Start the conversation
And Falcon isn't sending just anybody, either. According to the filing, the Bitcoin fund's lobbyist will be company Chief Executive Officer Brett Stapper.
"Our objectives at this point are very simple. In our discussions and debates we have realized that those who oppose Bitcoin don't really oppose it, they simply don't understand it. Our main concern is that our elected officials will pass regulations without being fully educated on the topic which could have a negative impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem," Stapper told Business Insider.
Falcon Global Capital launched in March and invests entirely in Bitcoin. It functions like a gold hedge fund, purchasing and storing bitcoins ranging in value from $25,000 to $10,000,000 on behalf of investors.
For now, however, the Falcon Bitcoin fund is only open to accredited investors (an individual with at least $1 million in assets or net income of $200,000 a year), much like SecondMarket's Bitcoin fund, the Bitcoin Investment Trust.
It's a fledgling business, and Stapper is going to Washington in part to head off any misguided regulations.
"My business is Bitcoin and we're the first investment bank to work solely in virtual currencies, so I'm very pro-Bitcoin," Stapper told Bank Innovation. "I was very disturbed to see no one has done this yet and I felt like hopefully if we start, that others will come and help."
While Falcon is the first Bitcoin-based company to seek a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, it won't have the first Bitcoin lobbyist there. Last month, Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) said it would be enlisting five staffers from the lobbying firm Peck Madigan Jones to focus on legislative issues concerning Bitcoin.
The Mastercard lobbyists aren't likely to be advocating for Bitcoin, however, as Stapper intends to do.
And while Mastercard has said its lobbyists will focus on "gathering information," Stapper isn't so sure.
The possibility that Mastercard could see Bitcoin as a threat to its credit card business - and lobby in favor of crippling regulations - is also on Stapper's radar.
Falcon Bitcoin Fund Taking No Chances in Washington
Still, Stapper said he remains optimistic that Mastercard and other legacy payment companies will realize the digital currency's potential.
"Hopefully MasterCard will adopt it. Yes [they're competitors as a transaction service] but that's how innovative companies continue to grow - they can adopt or they cannot," Stapper told Bank Innovation. "Back in the day, the horse-and-buggy operators opposed automobiles and we know how that ended up. Similarly, you see Western Union, a company that has continued to embrace innovation, and they continue to prosper."
And apart from thwarting any possible pushback from those entities that might oppose Bitcoin - and by extension, his Bitcoin fund - Stapper wants to make sure that government regulators have a clear understanding of the digital currency.
Regulators in Washington and New York have held several hearings over the past six months to find out more about Bitcoin, but some lawmakers have spoken out against Bitcoin in the wake of such black eyes as the Silk Road drug website (which used Bitcoin for payments) and the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange, which lost 750,000 customer bitcoins.
Stapper wants to be sure lawmakers know Bitcoin is bigger than that and that businesses can take precautions to make digital currencies less risky. For example, his Falcon Bitcoin fund offers investors insurance that will reimburse customers for bitcoins lost to theft or other issues.
Stapper knows it won't be easy, but he knew that when he made the decision to go to Washington.
"I first got the idea [to become a lobbyist] when I was in DC speaking at a conference on May 5 and 6," Stapper told Bank Innovation. "I decided to reach out and speak to a number of congressmen, and I was very disturbed by what they thought of Bitcoin - a 'renegade PayPal' used for drugs and weapons. My goal is educating them - almost everyone I've spoken to changes their mind once they get it. Once the light bulb goes off, they understand the potential impact Bitcoin can have."
Now that Bitcoin is getting a lobbyist in Washington (thanks to the Falcon Bitcoin fund), do you think the digital currency has come of age? Or does it still have something to prove? Tell us on Twitter @moneymorning or Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF, which is a Bitcoin fund that retail investors will be able to buy into, is getting closer and closer to SEC approval. One of the few questions remaining is what its ticker symbol will be. Here's why the ticker for the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF matters...
- Business Insider: There's a Pro-Bitcoin Lobbyist in Washington Now
- Bank Innovation: Meet the First Pro-Bitcoin Lobbyist in DC
- CoinDesk: Falcon Global Capital Hires Lobbyists to Promote Bitcoin in Washington
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.