Carper: US should ‘lead way’ in Bitcoin regulation

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) called on the U.S. to “lead the way” on regulation of Bitcoin after a new study found most countries do not have rules in place to address virtual currencies.

“The United States may not be as far behind the curve on virtual currencies as some have argued,” said Carper, who commissioned the study. “In fact, the United States might be leading the way for a number of nations when it comes to addressing this growing technology."

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The report surveyed government officials from around the world and shows many countries are still considering what to do with Bitcoin. China and Brazil are the two exceptions, having already begun regulating Bitcoin. 

The study looked at 40 countries and asked whether they recognize Bitcoin as legal tender; what negative impacts Bitcoin could have on national currencies; what concerns they have about fraud; and how tax authorities view Bitcoin transactions.  

According to the study, there is "widespread concern" about the negative impact Bitcoin could have on national currencies and how it could be used to fund criminal operations and tax fraud.

Carper, the chairman of the homeland security and governmental affairs committee, said his committee is working with the IRS to develop tax regulations for Bitcoin. "I urge the Internal Revenue Service to glean the findings from this survey to help determine its own treatment of virtual currencies," he said.  

Carper called for government leaders around the world to team up in an effort to regulate Bitcoin.

"This report underscores that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are present and growing in major economies, supporting the call for increased global cooperation," Carper said. 

Carper said the study shows Bitcoin is playing an "increasing role in our economy."

"We need to ensure that our policymaking in this area is thoughtful, effective and timely," he said.