Will Bitcoin Ever Be Regulated?
This article is originally published in Albaron Ventures.
As Bitcoin and other digital assets continue to grow in adoption and popularity, a common topic for discussion is whether the U.S. government or any government for that matter, can exert control of its use.
There are two core issues that lay the foundation of the Bitcoin regulation debate:
The digital assets pose a macro-economic risk. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can act as surrogates for an international currency, which throws global economics a curveball. For example, countries such as Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran have all explored using digital currency to circumvent United States sanctions, which puts the US government at risk of losing its global authority.
- Targeting centralized entities: exchanges and wallets
A logical first move is to regulate the fiat onramps (exchanges) , which the United States government has finally been getting around to. In cryptocurrency’s nascent years, cryptocurrency exchanges didn’t require much input or approval from regulatory authorities to run. However, the government started stepping in when cryptocurrency starting hitting the mainstream.
The SEC, FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), and CFTChave all played a role in pushing Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies across all exchanges operating within U.S borders.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have no options but to adhere to whatever the U.S. government wants. The vast majority of cryptocurrency users rely on some cryptocurrency exchange to utilize their cryptocurrency, so they will automatically bend to exchange-imposed regulation.
Regulators might not be able to shut down the underlying technology that powers Bitcoin, but they can completely wreck the user experience for the great majority of cryptocurrency users, which serves as enough of an impediment to diminish the use of cryptocurrency for most.
- Targeting users.
The government can also target individual cryptocurrency users. Contrary to popular opinion, Bitcoin (and even some privacy coins) aren’t anonymous. An argument can be made that Bitcoin is even easier to track than fiat because of its public, transparent ledger.
Combined with every cryptocurrency exchange’s willingness to work with U.S. authorities, a federal task force could easily track money sent and received from certain addresses and pinpoint the actual individual with it. Companies such as Elliptic and Chainalysis have already created solid partnerships with law enforcement in many countries to track down illicit cryptocurrency uses and reveals the identities behind the transactions.
Beyond that, we dive into the dark web and more professional illicit cryptocurrency usage. Although trickier, the government likely has enough cyber firepower to snipe out the majority of cryptocurrency-related cybercrime. In fact, coin mixers , coin swap services (ShapeShift) and P2P bitcoin transactions (localbitcoins) have been investigated for several years now and most of them have had to add KYC and adhere to strict AML laws.
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