U.S. regulators this week tackled the tough issue of regulating virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs heard from Justice Department officials, who say they need help regulating digital currencies as well as Bitcoin proponents, who say the government should stay out.
Bitcoin’s global popularity has been soaring, and its value jumped to $900.98 for a single bitcoin this week. Bitcoin can be purchased and exchanged for standard currency, such as dollars, euros and yen, at bitcoin exchanges, but bitcoins have fluctuated wildly in value.
There are almost 12 million Bitcoins in circulation, giving the currency, a market value of nearly $8.5 billion.
Bitcoin advocates say that virtual currency could transform economies in developing countries where people have little access to banks and financial services. The software for creating a Bitcoin “wallet,” allowing a user to send and receive bitcoins, is public and can be used on a mobile phone, USA Today reported.