Transnational Political Regulation of Bitcoin

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen; Lunds universitet/Master of Science in Global Studies; Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: Virtual currencies have recently emerged at the intersection of Internet and finance, bringing unprecedented innovations in payment systems, money and finance. In particular, Bitcoin is examined as the first example of virtual currency, dating back to 2009. Ever since virtual currencies emerged, they received increased attention from public, private and societal regulators, especially in the field of finance. Since regulation of Bitcoin is still in its infancy, this project will rather aim to unpack the underlying rationalities of power. Employing the concept of governmentality, this thesis performs Critical Discourse Analysis on policy papers, statements and press releases from public, private and societal regulators of finance. Rationalities of power and regulation are unpacked along three categories: ideas over the object that has to be regulated; ideas over the objectives that regulation has to achieve; ideas over the technical tools to be employed to achieve said aims. The results envision a future in which regulation will be public, transnational and permissive. The attitude of regulators is aimed at co-opetition, understood as a mix of competition and co-optation of virtual currencies in the current paradigm of regulation of money and finance. The future scenario will be mostly decided by strategic employment of material and institutional power by public and private actors in order either to limit or to support the adoption and diffusion of virtual currencies. However, it seems unlikely that virtual currencies will simply vanish in the future.

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