October 22, 2015 / 4:46 PM / 3 years ago

Group formed to help with U.S. digital currency probes

(Reuters) - Some of the biggest names in the bitcoin community have formed an organization to help counter criminal activity involving digital currencies and their underlying technology.

Called Blockchain Alliance, the group will serve as a resource for law enforcement, providing technical assistance for digital currency investigations. The Alliance was founded by the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center, which announced the group’s formation on Thursday.

It will also serve as a forum for law enforcement and the bitcoin community on how to make the blockchain, the technology enabling digital currencies such as bitcoin, more secure and deter its use for unlawful purposes.

Alliance participants include bitcoin and blockchain firms Coinbase, BitPay, BitFinex, BitFury, BitGo, Bitnet, BitStamp, Blockchain, Bloq, Circle, CoinX, ItBit, Kraken, Noble Markets and Xapo, as well as MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative and software developer Gavin Andresen.

“It’s no secret that bitcoin has perception issues, which is a roadblock to mainstream adoption,” said Perianne Boring, president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “Having an open dialogue with law enforcement and policymakers will help reduce anxiety about this transformative technology.”

Jason Weinstein, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and former deputy assistant attorney general in charge of cybercrime investigations at the Department of Justice, will serve as director of the Blockchain Alliance.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. The currency is used for retail purchases and investments.

Its value has been highly volatile, having peaked at over $1,200 in late 2013 before crashing after the collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange.

One bitcoin is currently worth around $274.04 on the BitStamp platform.

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