Though Bitcoin has had no shortage of speculation (both positive and negative) in 2013, the sheer volume of press it has received speaks to the resilience of the virtual currency. With the start of the new year, now seems the perfect time to see where the highly debated tender has been – and where it’s headed—amongst some of the nation’s money makers and policy makers.
It may be no coincidence that the upturn in attention accompanies an increasing number of Wall Street firms not only interested in, but also investing in Bitcoin. Merrill Lynch released a report last month, prompting lead report strategist David Woo to share his view that Bitcoin is a “serious competitor” in monetary transactions and “as a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth.” The legitimacy of the currency was solidified further last week when a San Francisco based hedge fund posted a job opening for a Junior Bitcoin Execution Trader. At the same time, a number of other investment firms have admitted to creating Bitcoin departments within their companies.
Wall Streeters may have taken notice of the virtual currency’s prospects some time ago, but new players are joining the game consistently, bringing different industries and bigger names to the table. In a December 2013 statement, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne announced that the website will begin accepting payment in Bitcoin later this year, making it possible to use bitcoins to purchase, well, almost anything—and potentially setting precedent for other major retailers, who have been observing from the sidelines, thus far. Byrne made it clear that his was a business as well as a philosophical decision, telling CNN’s Ben Rooney that he believes “the monetary base should not be something that a government can create with a stroke of a pen.”
Byrne isn’t the only one with a Libertarian love for the cyber currency. Even more recently, Congressman Steve Stockman has announced that he will accept Bitcoin donations to help fund his campaign for U.S. Senate. In an online video, Stockman stated that his support for the deregulated monetary form stems from the desire for the “freedom to choose what you do with your money, and freedom to keep your money without people influencing it,” the Dallas Morning News reported. As the Federal Election Commission has yet to decide how to classify the donation, it is unclear at this time how the Bitcoin can be spent in terms of campaign financing.