Bitcoin company hires former Senate staffer

A former Senate staffer is joining Coinbase, a company that allows buyers and sellers to use digital currencies such as bitcoin through an online, virtual wallet.

John Collins, who previously worked for Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperGovernors-turned-senators meet to talk healthcare Overnight Healthcare: GOP'S repeal-only plan quickly collapses in Senate Dem leaders amp up calls for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes MORE (D-Del.), head of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, will lead government affairs for Coinbase.

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Carper’s committee has taken a leading role in the Senate on virtual currencies, and Collins served as the panel's top adviser on the issue. He also ran Carper’s reelection campaign in 2012.

"At Coinbase, John will engage with and educate public officials and lawmakers about bitcoin, and help drive an informed discussion around public policy that protects consumers without stifling the incredible innovation we’re seeing at all levels across the bitcoin community," the company said in a statement

Carper has said the United States should lead the way on regulating the digital currency. A study commissioned by the senator earlier this year found that most countries do not have rules regulating online currencies. 

But a number of groups are taking a more active role in advocating for the currencies in Congress.

Online currencies, most prominently bitcoin, have been touted by advocates as a more efficient way of conducting financial transactions online, without control from any government or bank. The currency exists entirely online and companies like Coinbase allow users to buy, store and spend the currency. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others have warned of the volatility of the online market and have noted there is no backstop if problems emerge.

Lawmakers have also said the anonymity of the exchanges is ripe for criminal activity. 

"As more merchants and consumers adopt the digital currency, and as more policymakers seek to understand its core value and promise, that responsibility has become increasingly large," Coinbase said in its statement.