Wells Fargo Hosts “Virtual Currency: Viability, Compliance, & Direction”

January 24, 2014 01:01 UTC
Wells Fargo to host a public event on virtual currencies

Last week, here at CCN we reported on Wells Fargo calling a Bitcoin Summit to discuss “Rules of Engagement” for banks and Bitcoin.  This original private summit was held on January 14th, 2014 and was headed by Jim Richards, the Vice President in charge of Wells Fargo’s financial crimes risk management division.  Presumably, at the January 14th summit, Wells Fargo and other banking officials saw a greater need for wider dialogue that included the public.

According to this flyer released by Wells Fargo yesterday, Wells Fargo and Buckley Sandler LLP are hosting a Bitcoin convention on January 28th, 2014 in New York City.  The public event, titled “Virtual Currency: Viability, Compliance, & Direction” is limited to 60 seats all of which have since been filled.  The lucky 60 participants will get to listen to five panelists speak for 10-15 minutes each and then participate in an audience Question & Answer session.  The panelists include Margo Tank of Buckley Sandler LLP, Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures, Jeremy Allaire of Circle Internet, Seetha Ramachandran of the United States Department of Justice, and Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase.  The event will be moderated by Wells Fargo’s Jim Richards.

The event has very specific stated goals:

Our panel of experts will weigh in on market trends, investment opportunities, compliance imperatives, and interoperability with traditional fiat currencies. What industries will be disrupted? Which will be enhanced? Particular attention will be given to regulatory compliance, risk management, and policy frameworks.

Whether Wells Fargo officials genuinely are seeking more educated opinions from Bitcoin-involved companies or preparing swift top-down banking regulations behind the veneer of public engagement, remains to be seen.

Wells Fargo and Bitcoin in the past

Wells Fargo, specifically Jim Richards, likely first came in contact with Bitcoin when a joint operation by multiple federal agencies seized 5.5 million USD from a Wells Fargo account owned by Mark Karpeles of Mt. Gox back in early 2013.  Money that may or may not have been tied to the infamous Silk Road.  From arguably the worst possible introduction to Bitcoin imaginable, Wells Fargo is now positioning itself as a forward-thinking, but still monstrously huge, bank of the people.

Wells Fargo and Bitcoin in the future

Given the long list of pro-Bitcoin speakers represented at Wells Fargo’s event, I have high hopes for this upcoming summit.  Even Wells Fargo explicitly allowing businesses that handle Bitcoin to bank with them will have a long resounding effect on Bitcoin and the Bitcoin market exchange rate.  Wells Fargo, according to market capitalization, is the largest bank in the United States and happens to be headquartered in San Francisco, an ideal location to capitalize on Silicon Valley’s Bitcoin Infatuation, as INC calls it.  The good news is that Wells Fargo clearly recognizes the potential of Bitcoin and does not want to be left behind as the world financial system upgrades.  This is in contrast to the anti-Bitcoin stance that some other banks have taken and I hope that any guidance that Wells Fargo comes up for their own branches will be emulated by banks everywhere.

Last modified: April 20, 2014 18:28 UTC


Caleb is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he studied Economics, East Asian Studies, and Mathematics. He is currently pursuing his MSc in Digital Currency at the University of Nicosia.