Quoted: on the evolution and appeal of bitcoins

“The libertarians’ zeal took Bitcoin from nothing to something, and then you had people that were attracted by the anonymous nature, who mostly use it for [illegal] online gambling. But the appeal of zero transaction costs is universal.”

Jeremy Liew, a partner with Menlo Park-based Lightspeed Venture Partners. With investors such as Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, and Union Square Ventures, businesses related to bitcoins — the digital currency whose legitimacy is still under debate — are on the rise. The bitcoin network has surpassed the processing strength of  the “top 500 most powerful supercomputers,” according to CNNMoney. A Bitcoin Summit in San Jose over the weekend attracted an estimated 1,100 people, according to MIT Technology Review. (The keynote speakers were Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twins famous for suing Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s founding. We mentioned last month, amid much bitcoin action, that they had amassed $11 million in bitcoin. Last week, they announced a $1.5 million investment in a bitcoin payment processor.) The legitimacy question is taking on more urgency, with an attendee at the weekend summit telling Tech Review that the bitcoin world needs to “play ball” with regulators. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly ordered the restriction of fund transfers in and out of Mt. Gox, said to be bitcoins’ most popular exchange.

 

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

 

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