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Wells Fargo Organizes Bitcoin Conference

by Chris Poindexter

A Bit About BitcoinsCalling together finance executives, virtual currency experts and government regulators, Wells Fargo wants to clarify the rules when it comes to accepting and trading Bitcoins.

The effort seems to be directed at government concerns that Bitcoin is somehow being used for money laundering. Wells Fargo is the fourth largest U.S. bank and has demonstrated an interest in engaging the new Bitcoin economy and used Tuesday’s meeting as a platform to address regulatory concerns.

The group was assembled by Jim Richards, who heads up Wells Fargo’s anti-money-laundering efforts. While digital currency is still in its infancy and opinions vary widely in the banking and regulatory industries the fact that Wells Fargo is hosting the meeting at all is a positive sign for Bitcoin supporters.

Recently Overstock.com announced they are accepting Bitcoin as payment and certainly the fact that a major Wall Street bank is taking an interest lends credibility to the new digital currency market. It may be that big banks are angling for a way to become part of the Bitcoin economy before they find themselves competing with a shadow world of digital currencies where banks and large financial institutions are largely unnecessary.

The typical Bitcoin user has been profiled as male between 25 and 40 with a high degree of comfort with technology and most likely to live in one of the coastal states. Nerds, techies, and crypto geeks form the core of the Bitcoin early adopters. Game maker Zynga recognized its customer base in Bitcoin demographics and opted to accept Bitcoin as an in-game payment option.

There’s also some indication that larger retailers are showing an interest in accepting Bitcoin. Mobile gift card vendor, Gyft is now accepting Bitcoin which can be used to buy gift cards from nearly 200 different retailers. Businesses that stand to gain from Bitcoin adoption include eBay and Amazon.

Whatever the conclusions from the meeting at Wells Fargo, the fact that a major bank has enough respect for Bitcoin to start asking questions is a step forward toward legitimacy for Bitcoin and Bitcoin users.

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