Ryan Tracy
Wall Street Journal
November 6, 2013

Bitcoin_iconBitcoin is about to get some time in the Capitol Hill spotlight.

A pair of Senate committees will hold hearings on the policy issues raised by virtual currencies in the coming weeks, according to Senate aides, a development that comes amid growing attention from government regulators to digital forms of money.

Bitcoin, a currency that is essentially a computer code and is not backed by any government, has seen its value surge this year because of interest from retailers and investors. But government agencies have also stepped up their oversight of the loosely regulated currency amid fears it could be used to facilitate criminal activity.

The two Senate hearings – the first to focus on bitcoin – are likely to examine how regulators are responding to the new forms of payment, the aides said. Potential points of discussion include how financial-industry regulators will watch over investment in the new currencies and how virtual currencies might impede tax collection or facilitate trade in illegal products out of the sight of law enforcement.

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