iNVEZZ.com, Wednesday, October 29: Former US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Arthur Levitt has joined the ranks of supporters of the Bitcoin digital currency.
Levitt, who was the longest-serving chairman in the history of SEC, was yesterday announced as an adviser to BitPay, a Bitcoin payment processor, and Vaurum, an exchange for institutional investors that raised four million dollars in seed funding from the likes of Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper this spring.
“The brainpower behind Bitcoin technology and cryptocurrency is so deep and so challenging that I was attracted to it,” Levitt said in an interview cited by The New York Times. “The fact that so few people in America understand what Bitcoin is made me interested in the possibility of helping define it.”
“Arthur’s experience and reputation are incredible assets to a rapidly innovative company like BitPay, and with his advice we hope to better navigate the financial industry and build a successful business,” said Tony Gallippi, BitPay co-founder and executive chairman.
“Arthur Levitt brings additional validation to the space, and we’re pleased to work with him on our financial controls, banking relationships and regulatory compliance,” said Vaurum CEO, Avish Bhama.
According to Levitt, regulation will be key to the success of the digital currency as it will provide it with a measure of legitimacy. “The founders of these companies tend to be entrepreneurial, irreverent and probably feel that regulation should be avoided at all costs […] I understand where they’re coming from but I also believe that regulations really will do more to establish their credibility as an alternative. It’s got to be sensible, balanced regulation and it can’t be regulation that chokes them.”
Levitt’s decision to advise BitPay and Vaurum comes as Bitcoin stands at somewhat of a crossroads in its development. With its rise in popularity, government officials and regulators have started taking steps to bring the digital currency under their jurisdiction.
The Internal Revenue Service, the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority have all acknowledged Bitcoin’s growing presence. A number of high-profile failures, such as the collapse of Mt. Gox in February, have made the need for more strict oversight apparent.
Digital Currency Council creator David Berger said that for someone of Levitt’s stature to offer his support ”provides further evidence of the maturation of the bitcoin space”.
Berger added that this “also highlights the degree to which so many emerging players in bitcoin have realized the importance of adding smart, knowledgeable legal minds to their teams.”
As of 12:37 GMT the BTC/USD stood at $338.34, down 3.33 percent, or $11.57, intraday.