I recently spent three days with Jim Harper and other Cato scholars at Cato/Sarasota. I know Jim well. We spent time talking about Bitcoin’s future and how little most American’s know about Bitcoin. Here it is announced in the WSJ that the Bitcoin Foundation has hired Jim to advise them.
Bitcoin advocates are pumping up their efforts to reach out to governments that are scrutinizing the fledgling virtual currency closely.
The Bitcoin Foundation, a trade group, on Tuesday said it has hired Jim Harper, an official at the Cato Institute, a libertarian policy organization, to “identify political impediments to bitcoin adoption, and build confidence in bitcoin among governments around the world.”
The move comes as governments are tussling with a number of issues related to bitcoin, ranging from how it should be regulated to whether it should be taxed. Russia and China have clamped down on bitcoin in recent months, while other countries continue to assess its role and effect on their citizens and businesses.
In the U.S., the New York Department of Financial Services recently held two days of public hearings into virtual currencies as it prepares to issue a regulatory framework later this year.
The five-year old electronic currency has attracted a significant amount of attention in the past year, sending its price to more than $600 from $40 a year ago. Venture capitalists are pouring money into bitcoin-related companies and a growing number of mainstream merchants are accepting it for payment.
But the enormous growth is also causing problems that are sparking concern among regulators and law-enforcement agencies. Among them: last month’s collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based trading exchange that last year handled the bulk of bitcoin trading. The defunct exchange has filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the U.S.
Global governments also have expressed concern about bitcoin being used as payment for illegal activities.
Mr. Harper, who has been director of information policy studies for the Cato Institute since 2004, also has worked as counsel to committees in the U.S. House and Senate. In addition, he was a government-relations counsel to eBay Inc.’s PayPal unit, VeriSign Inc. and other companies.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to help the foundation achieve bitcoin’s promise for improving global financial inclusion, strengthening financial privacy for law-abiding consumers, increasing liberty and dignity for people the world over, and providing a stable money supply in countries where monetary instability may threaten prosperity and even peace,” Mr. Harper said in a statement.