During remarks at the United Nations BFI Summit in New York this week, CFTC Commissioner Rostin Benham suggested that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are here to stay. During a speech focused on the regulatory challenges confronting the CFTC as it tries to address issues related to the emerging cryptocurrency industry, the commissioner asserted that the technology is something that will impact all nations:
“But virtual currencies may – will – become part of the economic practices of any country, anywhere. Let me repeat that: these currencies are not going away and they will proliferate to every economy and every part of the planet. Some places, small economies, may become dependent on virtual assets for survival. And, these currencies will be outside traditional monetary intermediaries, like government, banks, investors, ministries, or international organizations.
We are witnessing a technological revolution. Perhaps we are witnessing a modern miracle.”
Benham suggested that the outcome of that revolution could be either positive or negative, but pointed to several key problems that digital currency technology could potentially address – like corruption in developing countries, poverty, and improvements in industries like agriculture and health care.
He specifically addressed the benefits of using cryptocurrency to bypass corruption by getting “virtual currency” to the people without going through local officials or other potential sources of corruption:
“Technology could simply bypass corruption. Here is our chance to put money directly into the hands of those who need it, without bribery, rake-offs, graft, and shakedowns. Virtual currencies could transform the economic and social landscape. It could mean a massive, and equitable, shift of wealth. Technology could be transformational, without a military take-over, civil war, or political or religious creed.”
However, Benham noted that the world's elites recognize those potential benefits as well, and that they may attempt to control the technology to ensure that wealth remains concentrated in their hands. As an example of how this type of battle might be conducted, he cited the ongoing war over social media censorship, where some countries limit their citizens’ access to online information. He also pointed to the sheer size, wealth, and power of social media companies like Google and Facebook.