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Mellon heir swaps traditional banking heritage for Bitcoin

A scion of the Mellon banking dynasty has been appointed chairman of a new trade association for Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Matthew Taylor Mellon II, a sixth-gen of the family behind the predecessor bank to BNY Mellon, is the founder of two digital currency companies, Coin.co, which processes payments, and Coin Apex, an incubator for start ups in the industry.

Now, the New York-based heir, who is also a consultant to family offices, has been become executive chairman of the Chamber of Digital Commerce – an appointment that was announced this week.

Launched in July, the industry association aims to educate the public and policymakers about digital currencies. It will launch its first major public policy campaign in January.

The digital currency industry has an estimated value of $8 billion, and this is expected to grow to $1 trillion in the next six years, the Digital Chamber says. “Digital assets will soon be as important as email, web browsing, and e-commerce,” it said in a press release, at its launch.

However, digital currencies are currently viewed with a mixture of uncertainty and scepticism by policymakers.

Last year, US Treasury said congress and regulators continued their efforts to determine the legality, legitimacy, and regulatory framework for virtual currencies.

A report released by the European Central Bank in 2012 stated: “A virtual currency can be defined as a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.”

Founded in 2009, Bitcoin is one of the most well known digital currencies, but its price has fluctuated significantly, reaching upwards of $1000 earlier this year, but worth almost a third of that today.

Earlier this year, Bitcoin Investment Trust chief executive Barry Silbert told CampdenFB that family offices accounted for a large number of the fund’s investors.

Silbert said family offices tended to come at Bitcoin from opposite ends of the risk-return spectrum – viewing the alternative asset either as either a substitute for gold, or as the equivalent of a high tech start up.

Outside Bitcoin, Mellon’s holdings include online art auction service Paddle 8, in which artist Damien Hirst and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg also have a stake, and clothing line Hanley Mellon, which he started with his wife Nicole Hanley Mellon.

He is the former chairman of the New York Republican Party’s finance committee.
 

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