One of the key roles of Senate committees is to study issues that may affect Canada’s long-term national interests.
As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I’m very excited as we prepare to launch a new study that will examine digital currencies. Today the Senate approved the following study mandate:
That the Committee be approved to examine and report on the use of digital currencies in Canada and report on their risks, threats, and advantages by June 30, 2015
Digital currencies are electronically created and stored. Over the next few months the Senate Banking committee will hear from governments, academics and other financial experts from across the country on the merits and risks of such currencies. These committee hearings will lead to a series of recommendations on the use of digital currencies in Canada, which was highlighted in the recent federal budget as an area of interest.
By analyzing the use and regulation of emerging digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, the Senate can make an important contribution to keeping Canada ahead of the digital currency curve.
As the committee continues to hear from academics, economists, and leaders in government and banking, I will update this blog post with new information on our findings.
Week of April 7-11
This week the Senate Banking Committee continued its study examining digital currencies by hearing from witnesses from the Bitcoin community and from Canada’s leading financial institutions. The meetings provided the Committee with deeper insight into the opportunities for and challenges to innovation as a result of the rise of digital currencies, and learned about how digital currencies fit into the safe, reliable, and strong banking system that Canada maintains today.
On Wednesday, members of the Bitcoin Strategy Group explained how the emergence of digital currencies are fostering entrepreneurship across the country. As a group that provides advisory services to Bitcoin-related companies, they see Bitcoin as the future of transactions, even making an analogy between Bitcoin today and the Internet in the early 1990s. Other witnesses included Canadian Virtual Exchange – Canada’s largest Bitcoin exchange. Representatives from the firm, including former Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien, explained how Bitcoin users exchange fiat currency for the popular digital currency. They asked the Committee to consider regulating the digital currency to build public confidence in it as a valuable medium of exchange.
Thursday’s meeting included testimony from experts from industry who explained the opportunities and challenges for digital currencies within the contemporary banking system. They also provided insight into how Canada’s banks continue to strive towards meeting consumers’ banking needs with mobile products and digital banking alternatives.
It has been fascinating to learn more about this dynamic and relevant topic with the other members of your Senate’s Banking Committee. I even had the chance to watch Chairman Irving Gerstein purchase his first Bitcoin in a demonstration to the Committee! There is certainly lots to consider on the topic, and I look forward to learning more throughout the course of our study.