Bitcoin’s Young and Wild Days May Be Coming to An End

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Bitcoin is about the receive closer scrutiny from the state of New York

New York State plans to issue new rules in the first quarter of 2015 for the buying and selling of bitcoins, the digital currency made up of bits and bytes, instead of dollars and cents. Bitcoin entrepreneurs have been operating with little to no regulation since the currency first proliferated online in 2009. Money has been made (and lost), but for many, bitcoin and digital currency is confusing, and has a reputation for disappearing money or illicit activity.

Pioneers of the digital age have been predicting a turn toward digital currencies for at least two decades. Say goodbye to change rattling in pockets and thick billfolds. In fact, maybe no more wallets at all. If you're scratching your head wondering what this is all about, it's because there is still a long list of unanswered questions about how bitcoin will work when the real world collides with the digital one.  

That's where Ben Lawsky comes in. He's the Superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, the agency that regulates banks and other organizations involved in money transfers. After his office proposed draft rules for virtual currencies and received over 3,000 public comments, Lawsky thinks he's found a balance that puts in place consumer protections without stifling innovation.

This week, Charlie Herman, host of Money Talking, sits down with Lawsky to discuss his optimism about the future of e-currencies like bitcoin, including money transfers with low fees and and encryption systems that prevent sharing personal information during transactions. But he also has concerns about a currency that's traded outside the purview of governing authorities, a valid fear given that many of bitcoin's early users were illegal actors.

And then later, as the new year gets underway, some advice on how to be less distracted in 2015 by Ned Hallowell, author of the new book from the Harvard Business Review Driven to Distraction at Work