Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are issued and controlled by their developers. Users can buy them through online exchanges. They are not insured by the federal government.
As the use of virtual currencies increases, California’s Department of Business Oversight is considering whether the state should regulate them. The department’s Tom Dresslar says companies offering the currencies may have to be licensed in the state.
"That licensure process carries with it some significant consumer protections," he says. "For example, to get a license in the first place they have to have adequate capital to support their business plan."
Dresslar says a task force has been meeting for more than a year to consider regulations. The group meets again later this month. Dresslar says it could decide at that meeting on the next step toward possible regulations.