Fidelity, Square, Coinbase Launch Bitcoin Trade Group

Fidelity Investments, Square Inc. and several other financial firms are forming a new trade group that aims to shape the way bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are regulated.

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The Crypto Council for Innovation will lobby policy makers, take up research projects and serve as the burgeoning industry’s voice in championing the economic benefits of digital currencies and related technologies. Crypto investor Paradigm and Coinbase Global Inc., which operates a cryptocurrency exchange, also signed on as initial members of the group.

The council’s launch comes as prices of many digital assets have surged, drawing in new mainstream investors and the banks and brokers that serve them. Earlier this year, the total market value of bitcoin, the most popular digital currency, touched $1 trillion for the first time.

Still, the market’s future remains far from settled. Advocates have argued that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that supports them have the potential to create jobs and extend financial services to consumers everywhere, at little or no cost. But policy makers and regulators around the world will play a critical role in shaping the path forward.

“Crypto is at a mainstream inflection point,” said Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Paradigm and Coinbase’s former president. “It’s in its very early stages and, much like the internet (once was), it’s very fragile while it’s in that stage.”