Coin Center takes off: Who we are and what we do

Today, as we launch our website, I’d like to tell you a bit more about us, what we’ve been up to, and where we plan to go.

Three months ago we announced Coin Center, and in that time we have been incredibly busy building the new organization. Today, as we launch our website, I’d like to tell you a bit more about us, what we’ve been up to, and where we plan to go.

Coin Center is an educational and research institution focused on the public policy issues facing cryptocurrency technologies. Think of us as a think tank for blockchain technology. Our mission is to build a better understanding of the technology in order to promote a regulatory climate that preserves maximum freedom of action for digital currency innovation. We are not a trade association or an industry group. Our job is not to represent any particular company, or industry, or currency, but instead it is to advocate for the freedom to innovate using blockchain technology.

Success for us is a world in which regulators, the media, and the public understand what cryptocurrency technologies are (and aren’t) and why they’re important. A world in which technologists can continue to enjoy the freedom to tinker. A world in which entrepreneurs can confidently make the promise of cryptocurrency a reality for consumers. Yet one of the greatest potential impediments to that world is overburdensome regulation.

We are pragmatists and understand that certain uses of cryptocurrency technologies will be regulated. As a result, the key to preserving the freedom to innovate is to make sure regulators take a sensible approach. We can help ensure this by engaging policymakers and regulators in dialog and serving as a useful resource. What we hope to offer them–as well as the media and the public at large–is education and research.

Education about the technologies and how they work, their challenges and promises, and how their use implicates certain regulations is vital. Without a clear understanding of the technology, it’s easy to get the policy wrong. And as we engage in a dialog with regulators, novel policy and legal questions emerge. Our research aims to answer these questions and identify the unintended consequences to which some policy choices can lead.

To these ends, over the past three months we’ve met with and begun a conversation with policymakers across government–from members of Congress and their staff, to regulatory agencies including FinCEN, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. We have also been a part of the dialogue–providing testimony to the CFTC’s first ever hearing on Bitcoin, and filing comments in New York’s ongoing BitLicense proceeding. We’ve also spoken on various panels and events hosted by the World Bank, Cardozo Law, New York Law School, American Banker, and the Electronic Transactions Association. And just before the Thanksgiving break Bloomberg asked us to moderate a panel of regulators including CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen, FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt.

In the coming months we plan to continue our engagement and education. For example, later today I’ll be speaking on a panel for the D.C. Bar Association looking at Bitcoin and the CFPB. Later this month we’ll begin dipping our toe internationally as our research director, Peter Van Valkenburgh, will be presenting on cryptocurrency and regulation at an emerging technology event for EU parliamentarians. And along with these public events, we’ll continue to meet privately with policymakers.

We’ve got an amazing team of dedicated professionals working full time to get the public policy affecting cryptocurrencies right, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have the board, advisors, and contributors that we do. That said, we need your help, too.

While some of the leading companies  and venture capitalists in the Bitcoin space are generously helping us get off the ground, our aim is to be as broad-based as possible. We hope you’ll consider supporting Coin Center’s work with a donation. In addition to our gratitude and hard work you will also receive a thank you t-shirt and a regular update memo from me. Whether you decide to support us today or not, please sign up for our free newsletter and follow us on Twitter to get our latest updates.

We think Bitcoin and blockchain technologies have a bright future, but it’s going to take a lot of work. We’ve been doing that work, we’re going to continue, and we’re excited to start sharing that journey with you.