Coin Center, a non-profit research and advocacy center focused on the public policy issues facing digital currency technologies has recently announced that over the past month the company has raised over $1 million to fund its 2016 operations.
Coin Center’s extensive list of new supporters includes some of the most powerful people in the exploding FinTech sector. Among those who donated are 21 Inc. (which last year released a small bitcoin-mining computer aimed at making it easier to develop bitcoin apps), BitStamp, Overstock.com (which was one of the first major online retailers to accept bitcoin as payment), and Digital Currency Group.
“We are very happy to have existing supporters like Andreessen Horowitz, BitPay, BitFury, BitGo, Chain, Coinbase, Ledger, OKLink, Ribbit Capital, Union Square Ventures, and Xapo continue their support of our work, and are thrilled to announce new support from 21, Bitstamp, Blockstream, Digital Currency Group, Gem, Genesis Global Trading, Grayscale Investments, Netki, Onename, Overstock.com, and Virtual Capital Ventures, as well as several very generous private individuals. It is incredibly gratifying to know that such an amazing and diverse group has such great confidence in us,” said Jerry Brito, Executive Director of Coin Center.
Coin Center is getting more influential, and it has people backing it who have major interest in keeping regulators from interfering too much in what bitcoin companies are doing. As said by Jerry Brito, Coin Center’s primary audience is policy-makers—and these people can often be confused about the industry. The fear of bitcoin businesses is that politicians will hastily regulate, or even shut down startups, before they understand the technology.
“Policy makers hear about these negative aspects, whether it’s ransoms, or drug sales, or the like, and they will often contact law enforcement and say, ‘What’s up with this?’ This is a challenge just like all new technologies have been, from email to pagers, but we think that we can get a handle on this,” Brito said.
Last year, New York became the first state to release its own regulatory framework specifically devoted to digital currency businesses – the BitLicense. It was met with so much opposition from the bitcoin community that a slew of companies packed up and left New York, cutting off service to customers in the state. Other companies happily applied for a license, but bemoaned the high cost.
“If you look back, [former New York Department of Financial Services superintendent] Ben Lawsky said he didn’t want to interfere with innovation or hurt business. Ultimately, the BitLicense that we got did not succeed at that. It is not a good model for other states to follow. I think the only solution is a light touch approach. If you go heavy-handed, as a regulator, you’ll do two things: not meet your goals, typically, because you’ll make it so difficult that people can’t even comply with it, and not get the visibility that you want as a regulator,” said Brito, talking about BitLicense.
Coin Center has received $2 million in donations to date, and it plans to seek $1 million every year.