The White House cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to the president, Rob Joyce, declared that studying bitcoin’s risks and benefits is a necessary move prior to its regulation. In Joyce’s interview with CNBC, he advised that regulating bitcoin would have to take time and intense scrutiny. Joyce is a two-decade veteran of the National Security Agency. He is also involved with cybersecurity policy strategy coordination between the private sector, government, non-governmental organizations as well as other countries. Joyce declared, “I think we’re still absolutely studying and understanding what the good ideas and bad ideas in that space are.” When asked when the government would begin implementing regulation, he responded, “..I don’t think it’s close.”
Critics of digital currencies claim that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have no intrinsic value as they are not backed by any central authority, and thus makes them incomparable to traditional fiat currencies such as the dollar. The anonymity digital currencies offer also makes them prone to be used in illegal activities. Despite the increased gains bitcoin experienced in 2017, Joyce has similarly expressed concern on the currency. He explained, “We are worried. There are benefits to the bitcoin concept — digital cash, digital currencies.” He added, “But at the same time, if you look at the way bitcoin works after there is a criminal act that takes place, you can’t rewind the clock and take back that currency.”
Compared to illicit activities done via credit cards – an act that leaves a trail that can be traced to specific companies, banks or individuals, and then have the transaction revoked and the cash money retrieved – the same cannot be said on cryptocurrencies. Joyce acknowledged this problem when he stated: “With the current instantiation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, we haven’t figured that out yet. So it’s a problem.”
Countries and business leaders are similarly divided over cryptocurrency’s future. The International Monetary Fund has declared the importance of regulating digital currencies. Germany and France are currently working on a structure for its regulation, while the European Union is similarly working on controlling its use against terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking. Though most of the world’s governments are still struggling to figure out specific regulations to implement, understanding more about cryptocurrencies is a positive step towards its eventual legitimate use.