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The Flip of a Coin: Alternative Currencies

Deep Web, Bitcoin, Silk Road…together, what might these words mean? 

Bitcoin is an open-source alternative currency that can often be used without revealing your identity. You can use Bitcoin in marketing enterprises in the Deep Web, a vast cyber world that underlies the area of the web cultivated and captured by conventional search engines. 

And despite the recent arrest of Ross Ulbricht, proprietor of the cyber black market enterprise Silk Road, the Black Market Reloaded site is still available, according to Forbes, as the go-to site if you are looking for heroin and handguns and have Bitcoins to burn. 

Enter the future. In August, state and federal officials kicked off an investigation of virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security announced plans to initiate a whole-government approach to Bitcoin and provide a sensible regulatory framework. 

Also in August, the New York Department of Financial Services subpoenaed 22 companies that use digital currencies. A primary issue is the lack of regulation and the likelihood of use of crypto-currencies in criminal activities. Introduced in 2009, Bitcoin has continued to attract value and controversy. 

Factors sure to be evaluated in these investigations include: 

  • The use of Bitcoin to launder money for drug traffickers, terrorists and other denizens of the criminal underworld
  • Development of a regulatory structure that includes state, federal and consumer protections and federal rules for consumers and companies who desire to use Bitcoin 

PayPal was once a novel idea. The development and use of a mobile, global currency is likely to occur, in the form of Bitcoin or other virtual alternatives. The struggles of Bitcoin toward legitimacy can only be hampered if it remains affiliated with criminal undertakings.

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