US Senate to take a closer look at bitcoin

Two US Senate committees will conduct hearings over the next few weeks to discuss policy implications of virtual currencies, according to Senate aides.

The hearings of the first committee will be dedicated entirely to bitcoin, whose association with now defunct online black marketplace 'Silk Road' and its skyrocketing value have been raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill.

"Potential points of discussion include how financial-industry regulators will watch over investment in the new currencies and how virtual currencies might impede tax collection or facilitate trade in illegal products out of the sight of law enforcement," writes Ryan Tracy for the Wall Street Journal.

In response to a Texas man's bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme earlier this year, a group of US senators sent a letter to a number of US government bodies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve.

“As with all emerging technologies, the federal government must make sure that potential threats and risks are dealt with swiftly; however, we must also ensure that rash or uninformed actions don’t stifle a potentially valuable technology," part of the letter reads.

Bitcoin, which can now be purchased via ATM, has been on a surge of late, currently trading at just under $250/coin.