In San Francisco next week, Wells Fargo will be heading a meeting of financial executives, United States government officials and virtual currency experts to discuss the “rules of engagement” pertaining to bitcoin and the risk of money laundering schemes, according to a report from the Financial Times.
The meeting will also highlight the security issues related to the digital currency and banking. Industry professionals are warning consumers about investing their money into the unregulated virtual currency market. Although some financial institutions, including Wells Fargo, have become open to the concept of a bitcoin economy, there is still a bit of uncertainty amongst the sector.
“We have made enormous investments as a company and as an industry in a payments system that is secure, and we need to be sure we are up to speed with what other things are going on and their risks and rewards,” said John Stumpf, Wells Fargo chief executive. “We want to make sure we understand what it is, what it does and what it does not. The world is changing and will continue to change. Whether Bitcoin will be a big part of that, who knows?”
Quoting sources close to the matter, Jim Richards, Wells Fargo’s anti-money laundering chief, has established a group to investigate how the company can offer bitcoin services to digital currency entrepreneurs. The purpose of the investigation is to produce a series of anti-money laundering rules when working with virtual currency start-ups.
The private sector is beginning to take steps to legitimize bitcoin after the Congressional Research Services (CRS) published a report last month that listed a number of legal and regulatory matters that are still unclear, including national tax issues, foreign exchange trading and federal securities laws.
“State authorities moving in the direction of regulating virtual currencies are sometimes discovering problems in applying existing laws to the technological currencies,” the report stated.
In addition to the banking sector, the Federal Reserve has yet to partake in regulating bitcoin. In a letter to Congress, exiting Fed Chair Ben Bernanke noted that bitcoin, and other virtual currencies, “may hold long-term promise.”
At the time of this writing, bitcoin is currently trading at just over $860.