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Attorney General expresses concerns about long-term viability of bitcoin

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On Tuesday, April 8, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Committee on the Judiciary to express concerns about the long-term viability of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

In his address, Holder said, “Virtual currencies can pose challenges for law enforcement given the appeal they have among those seeking to conceal illegal activity. This potential must be closely considered. We are working with our financial regulatory partners to account for this emerging technology. Those who favor virtual currencies solely for their ability to help mask drug trafficking or other illicit conduct should think twice; the Department is committed to innovating alongside this new technology in order to ensure our investigations are not impeded by any improvement in criminals’ ability to move funds anonymously. As virtual currency systems develop, it will be imperative to law enforcement interests that those systems comply with applicable anti-money laundering statutes and know-your-customer controls.”

Bitcoin has become increasingly popular as an easy way to move money, but the collapse of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in February dealt a serious blow to the integrity of the currency. Further complicating matters are the wild fluctuations in bitcoin valuation, which has made bitcoin a popular commodity among day traders, yet may make it difficult to establish as a viable long-term currency.

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