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US senator asks: Will Bitcoin replace Swiss bank accounts?

'I have been worried about that Bitcoin some," chips in fellow dinosaur learned legislator

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Senators have held a second hearing on Bitcoin as America's dinosaur politicians struggle to get to grips with the cryptocurrency.

On the second day of the hearing seven senators attended, as compared to just one in the initial proceedings on Monday.

Tuesday's panel included Ernie Allen, CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, who discussed the use of Bitcoin among paedophiles who use it to pay for child abuse images. Patrick Murck from the Bitcoin Foundation also spoke, along with Jeremy Allaire, CEO of the digital currency firm Circle, and Jerry Brito, a fellow from the Mercatus Center within George Mason University.

Senators wanted to know if Bitcoin was being used by terrorists, paedos, money launderers and other criminals. But their knowledge of the matter was limited at best.

“I have been worried about that bitcoin some,” said Senator Mark Kirk, who is the Republican representative for Illinois.

“Are Bitcoin wallets going to replace the Swiss bank account?” asked Jeff Merkley, a Democrat Senator for Oregon, who was worried about money laundering.

Another senator was a little more honest in his appraisal. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia observed that Bitcoin could "dramatically transform" the role of central banks.

“I’ve been following the development of Bitcoin for the last two months and I think I’m only starting to wrap my head around the potential upside [and] downside,” he confessed.

The hearings were set up to increase understanding of Bitcoin and its implications.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, reassured nervous senators that despite the "possibility and vulnerability", she had no intelligence which pointed to terrorists using Bitcoin. ®

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