Bitcoin Foundation hires lobbying firm to advocate for digital currency on Capitol Hill

Home » Bitcoin Foundation hires lobbying firm to advocate for digital currency on Capitol Hill
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In a blog post on the Bitcoin Foundation website, Global Policy Counsel Jim Harper announced today that the organization has hired lobbying firm Thorsen French Advocacy to represent the bitcoin industry in D.C. Thorsen French is a relatively small lobbying firm, but it has a solid track record of representing its clients’ interests on Capital Hill. Other Thorsen French clients include Sprint, ASCAP, Comcast/NBC Universal and — perhaps tellingly — Western Union.

One of the Harper’s more interesting points in the post was the reasoning behind hiring a lobbying firm in the first place. Noting that while there is some truth to the idea that “public policy is completely superfluous to Bitcoin” because the protocol “doesn’t need governments’ permission” to operate, Harper cited the “literally billions of other potential users worldwide” who will not be willing to adopt this “still exotic system” until the legal and regulatory issues are settled.

Governments cannot eliminate Bitcoin from the globe, of course—it’s an idea whose time has come—but they will have a large role in determining Bitcoin’s adoption rate. Favorable treatment from governments will help grow the Bitcoin ecosystem more quickly.”

Harper’s argument for hiring a lobbying firm seems to be as much about creating a touchstone for lawmakers as it is advocating specific policy. The alternative solution, he claims, would be holding off such engagement until the need for adequate visibility would require dumping millions into the creation of a “National Rifle Association for Bitcoin.” Instead, the Bitcoin Foundation will be taking the “smart” approach of building their lobbying program slowly, and “gaining wisdom from experience.”

Interestingly, Harper believes that bitcoin is not under attack in D.C., and that rumors of an anti-bitcoin lobbying effort by Mastercard have been blown out of proportion. Instead, Harper presents the Bitcoin Foundation’s entry into the lobbying game as an inevitable step in its overall mission to protect and promote the cryptocurrency.

U.S. public policy would have turned strongly against Bitcoin were it not for the work of the Bitcoin Foundation over the past year. Indeed, a year ago, investors, Bitcoin companies, and even the Bitcoin Foundation itself were fielding cease-and-desist letters and subpoenas from regulators. But Patrick Murck (and others) fearlessly and patiently educated policymakers about Bitcoin and its benefits. They turned a small but growing tide of antagonism into consensus that public policy should seek the benefits of Bitcoin while mitigating its risks. … Our methodical work will continue to build Bitcoin’s reputation and the foundation’s credibility in Washington, D.C. We’ll deploy the good will we build opportunistically—to quell any moves against Bitcoin and to support law and policy changes that best advance the Bitcoin community’s interests and the Bitcoin ecosystem’s development.

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