Virtual currency Bitcoin soon could be used to support political campaigns, in a request facing the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.
It is the most obvious sign of the fledgling currency’s increasing legitimacy, according to Jennifer Liberto of CNN Money, where more businesses and organizations are accepting Bitcoin payments in place of credit cards.
An early request to the FEC last fall resulted in a deadlocked decision.
The nonpartisan political group Make Your Laws, which aims to use technology to allow individuals a larger voice in democracy and elections, is behind the current FEC request.
Since no law exists that specifically bans Bitcoin, Liberto writes, a few candidates and civic groups are already accepting the currency. The Libertarian Party raises $10,000 to $20,000 in bitcoin every year, a fraction of the $1 million raised annually, according to Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict, whose group has members who oppose all forms of government regulation, even for money.
“Libertarians are a little more interested in currencies than the average person out there, so we try to comply with requests to contribute in Bitcoin,” Benedict adds. “We’re watching for an update to the ruling.”
With the increased popularity of Bitcoin comes more scrutiny. Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers earlier in April that virtual currencies could be problematic for law enforcement agencies since they may be used to conceal criminal activity.
One of the reasons for the currency’s popularity is that many Bitcoin transactions are anonymous, leading to its use on black market sites like Silk Road, which marketed illegal drugs and other products until the FBI shut it down lst fall.