There’s a long way to go before the U.S. government starts regulating bitcoin, Rob Joyce, special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator, told CNBC on Friday.
“With the current instantiation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, we haven’t figured that out yet. So it’s a problem,” he said.
Business and policy leaders are divided over the future of bitcoin. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it will have to be regulated, while South Korea’s threat of regulation in early 2018 sent the currency plunging. France and Germany are said to be working on their own regulatory structure, as European Union lawmakers call for some sort of control over a currency that’s been used for drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism.
And governments are more uncertain still over what “regulation” would actually look like — from the most subtle restrictions to an all-out ban.
Meanwhile, the ability that bitcoin offers to avoid traditional restrictions on money and assets is part of what makes it so popular to those who use it. That decentralization is also much of the reason its price swings so wildly.
Joyce’s comments echoed those of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said during a conference at Davos in January that his number one concern on bitcoin was its use in criminal activity.
A 27-year veteran of the National Security Agency, Joyce works to coordinate policy strategy on cybersecurity between the government, private sector, non-governmental organizations and other nations.
More than 450 senior executives, policymakers and heads of state are in attendance at the Munich Security Conference this week.