A Letter To Senator Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin wrote a public letter to financial regulators asking them to “take appropriate action to limit the abilities of this highly unstable currency.” The letter in its entirety is here.

What follows is a letter from me to the Senator.

Bitcoin is a powerful new technology platform that, like the Internet itself, is not controlled by anyone or any company. It is a globally distributed network of computers that allow financial transactions to flow seamlessly and at a much greater efficiency than current methods. A bitcoin is the store of value in the system and it acts a bit like a currency or a commodity. This store of value is actively traded for fiat currency at a number of exchanges around the world.

Bitcoin is already regulated in the US and it is becoming more regulated every day. And the regulatory environment in the US has dampened the amount of innovation around Bitcoin that has developed here in the US. All the major Bitcoin exchanges have been built outside of the US and a significant amount of the venture capital investment in the Bitcoin ecosystem is happening outside of the US. This is a direct response to the stricter regulatory oversight and requirements here in the US versus other countries.

The volatility of Bitcoin relative to fiat currencies should be expected in a nascent and emerging technology. What is amazing, however, is its resiliency in the face of massive scrutiny, company failures, fraud, theft, and a host of other challenges it faces as it becomes mainstream and mature. The value of a Bitcoin at this stage of its development should move up and down more like a hot technology stock than a stable currency. In time, as Bitcoin’s market value grows and transactional activity  and liquidity develops, the value will stabilize and act more like a traditional currency.

When something as new and as different as Bitcoin emerges, it is tempting to want to “put the Genie back into the bottle” and protect ourselves from it. But thankfully the US did not do that with the Internet. The impact of the commercial Internet on the US economy and our society as a whole has been massive and overwhelmingly positive over the past twenty years. We should approach Bitcoin in exactly the same way and if we do, I expect the benefits we will see will be equally important, impactful, and beneficial to our economy and our society.