Virtual money isn’t issued by any government; its value isn't controlled by any central bank. Instead, private companies or nonprofit organizations issue electronic codes that carry a value, and a market of buyers and sellers around the world sets the price relative to real currencies, like the dollar and euro.
Over the last 15 years, virtual money has been playing an ever-increasing role in web-based transactions, accounting for billions of dollars. The evolution of these new unregulated currencies has raised concerns at the Department of the Treasury that they could be used for illegal activities. The Treasury will now require that entities that issue virtual currency follow the same anti-money-laundering practices and procedures that other non-bank financial institutions follow.
This policy announcement had an interesting response from buyers and sellers of Bitcoin, the leading virtual currency. The dollar value of a Bitcoin rose. Even though this makes issuing Bitcoin more onerous, it legitimizes the currency by showing that it has drawn the attention of the U.S. Government.
Small-business owners should take notice. Accepting payment in bitcoin via your website could provide access to a whole new customer base. Creating virtual products for sale inside social media platforms and accepting payment in virtual currency could be a very exciting opportunity for profitable growth over the next few years.
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