Minutes of The Bitcoin Foundation Board Meeting held on October 17, 2017
Brock Pierce (Chairman)
Llew Claasen (Executive Director)
Approval of the agenda
The agenda for the meeting was approved by the Board.
Approval of the minutes
The minutes of the meeting held on July 18, 2017 were approved by all present.
Financial update – July & August 2017
Llew referred the board members to the financial reports from July and August 2017, since the Foundation had not had a board meeting with a quorum present for the previous two meetings.
Financial update – September 2017
September revenue included Membership contributions of $1,680. There were 10 new members. Operating expenses for the period under review were average as compared to other months. A retainer totaling $3,000 was paid out to The Ciric Law Firm for work to be done on opposing S1241 (Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017). This will be expensed once invoices are received for the actual work done. 09/30/17 Bitcoin Balance was 0.1917 coins equating to $822. September BPI high was $4,951 with a low of $3,226. Total Cash assets including BTC and USD were $5,353 at 09/30/17.
July 2017 operational update
Llew discussed with Jerry Brito & Peter Valkenburgh on 7/18 the Board recommendation that we request that the ULC withdraw the model act, as the organizations were not in agreement. Coin Center had actually sent further email communication to the ULC following our letter to the ULC where they doubled-down on their suggestion that the ULC pass the act. Coin Center declined to back down and the ULC model act was passed on 7/19. The foundation received a letter of thanks from the ULC and will continue to fight the passing of the ULC act on a state by state basis.
The pro-bono work committee of the large international law firm that had approached the Foundation with an offer to pro-bono work, declined a request to do any work for the Bitcoin Foundation. No specific reason was given.
The Foundation has appointed The Ciric Law firm on a retainer of $1,000 pm to assist with us opposing the inclusion of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, in the definition of federal statute S. 1241: Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017. A letter addressed to 4 Senate & Congress committees has been drafted & will be delivered to representatives when the houses reconvene in September 2017.
Llew had prepared a website for the developer event, provisionally confirmed a date and venue for the event before Andrew Lee of Bcoin went completely silent. Llew approached both Eric Lombrozo and Peter Todd to suggest speakers & assist with speaker topics, but received no replies to email or text messages. It seems all Bitcoin developers have been consumed with events leading up to and following the Bitcoin Cash hard fork on 8/1 and now Core may be annoyed that we were trying to work with Bcoin.
We’re waiting for the final edits to the introductory Online Bitcoin training course material from Sonya at Blockchain Academy. We’ve approached agencies in Cape Town and San Francisco to assist with converting the ~5 hours of training materials into video format & currently awaiting quotes before we initiate fundraising campaign.
SEO activities have been completed for the foundation website. BTC payments for new memberships were turned off for the first 2 weeks of August due to uncertainty about BTC network stability following the Bitcoin Cash hard fork. Paid acquisition campaigns were held back until we were certain that the network was stable & we could turn back on BTC membership payments. Paid acquisition campaign is scheduled to begin week of August 21.
August 2017 operational update
The Foundation sent a letter to the Senate committee on the judiciary to oppose the inclusion of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, in the definition of money in federal statute S. 1241: Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017, in addition to asking the Senate to investigate the DoJ’s unlawful prosecution of Bitcoin traders under federal money transmission laws. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Senate committee on Finance, the House committee on the Judiciary, House committee on Financial Services & the Blockchain Caucus. Our letter was well received in the Bitcoin community & extensively shared & commented upon. The Senate reconvened in early September, but no responses have been received to our letter at current date.
The Foundation issued a well-received public statement warning of the risks of the Bitcoin Cash hardfork on August 1 and how unsophisticated users could protect their bitcoin holdings.
The Foundation’s developer event series made no progress during August, with Bitcoin developers non-responsive and more focused on the effects of the Bitcoin Cash hardfork. Llew suggests that the Foundation appoint a CTO who is already a Bitcoin contributor and part of the developer community to drive this program forward. Craig Sellers was previously tipped for the position, but we couldn’t agree on terms. Suggestions for candidates welcome. Llew will reach out to Craig again.
We’re waiting for the final edits to the introductory Online Bitcoin training course material from Sonya at Blockchain Academy & still awaiting quotes to convert the ~5 hours of training materials into video format before we can initiate a fundraising campaign.
Paid acquisition campaigns commenced on bitcoin.com ($7,500 in donated inventory) towards the end of August once the network was cleared as stable after the Bitcoin Cash hardfork, but ad delivery has been slow and conversion results unimpressive so far. We’ll start testing paid ads on alternative placements as available cash allows.
Llew represented the Foundation at TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania August 27-30 & delivered a talk on cryptocurrency tokenization, which included a well-received primer on Bitcoin and its Blockchain. The talk is expected to be published on TED.com during the next 12 months.
Llew was invited to speak about bitcoin as an asset class at an asset manager conference in Dubai during October 2017.
The Foundation’s profile was raised across a number of news outlets during August, with Llew representing the Foundation in tv interviews on Al Jazeera English and CryptoTrader (CNBC Africa), as well as in written interviews published on BBC.com and The Independent (UK).
September 2017 operational update
Llew has been approached to participate in a working group to assist the government of Mauritius with creating legislation & regulation that is friendly to FinTech startups, especially the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Llew has been invited to speak about Bitcoin at the Blockshow by CoinTelegraph in Singapore in Nov 2017, TEDGateway in Mumbai, India in Jan 2018 and the APAC Blockchain Conference in Mar 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.
Llew & the Foundation’s counsel have been invited to speak in DC on Oct 16 2017 with Counsel to Chairman Chuck Grassley of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in connection with proposed federal legislation U.S.C. § 1241 Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 which seeks to define Bitcoin as a financial instrument. This would define anyone issuing, redeeming, or cashing Bitcoin as a financial institution, requiring them to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act, 31 U.S.C. § 5312 and requiring them to adopt the same formal reporting procedures as financial institutions for the purpose of reporting suspicious money laundering activities reaching out to terrorist, tax crime, or criminal activities. Our position is this is an untenable & premature regulatory burden on a promising technology that is not a financial instrument.
We’re awaiting the final edits to the introductory Online Bitcoin training course material from Sonya at Blockchain Academy & expect to commence a fundraising campaign in November to fund the creation of the Online training materials.
Llew will attend Money2020 in Las Vegas from Oct 22-25 to meet with ecosystem stakeholders.
Llew will speak at a private asset manager conference in Dubai on Oct 27-28 about the emerging asset classes of cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency tokens & at the Dubai Bitcoin meetup on Oct 28.
Redraft §1241, “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017”
Llew presented the case that the Bitcoin Foundation should continue to oppose the current draft of §1241 Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 as it will have the consequences of creating a high level of regulatory uncertainty for all businesses making use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in their products and services. The Foundation’s original opposition letter to U.S.C. §1241 was sent to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on August 29, 2017. Following our letter of opposition and follow-on discussions with legal counsel to Senator Grassley, one of the sponsors of §1241, we have a last opportunity to suggest edits to the bill before it is passed later this year.
Llew requested the board to approve briefing our legal counsel to suggest edits to §1241 within the next 5 weeks. The estimate of legal fees for this exercise is $15,000, which would need to be raised through external contributions.
The Board approved the fees to proceed with redrafting §1241 and requested that a public announcement is made on our position, including a public request for contributions to the legal fees. Vinny suggested that Perkins Coie may be able to contribute time pro-bono, but there were concerns that they may have conflicts of interest with their large financial services clients.
The board asked that Llew also reach out to Jerry Brito from Coin Center and Perry-Anne from Chamber of Digital Commerce to ask them to assist with raising awareness and contributing funds to legal fees incurred.
Llew suggested that he thought that the Foundation needed a technical lead and requested suggestions for suitable candidate to approach. Llew indicate that he had sent another email to Craig Sellers about this opportunity, but received no response this time around.
Board members should all put forward suitable candidates with a view to making an appointment in early 2018.
Any other matters
Bruce asked that the Speaker’s Bureau be updated on the Foundation’s website.
There being no further matters to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.