Sen. Branden Petersen sets his sights on Bitcoin

Categories: Technology

Sen. Branden Petersen

After spending the last legislative session pushing medical marijuana and a cell phone tracking bill, Sen. Brandon Petersen (R-Andover) is now looking toward a totally different cause: Bitcoin, the semi-controversial digital currency.

This week, Petersen announced that he's founding a new nonprofit, yesbitcoin, with a mission to communicate to people and organizations how Bitcoin works and the ideas and infrastructure behind it. Petersen will serve as the executive director of the organization, but his role as senator will stay separate.

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How Bitcoin works is a bit complicated. The currency was developed in the late 2000s by a still-unknown creator, but the currency has only recently become popular. Bitcoins are something like a digital precious metal, and in order to "mine" them, you have to solve extremely difficult math problems from a certain program downloaded to your computer. However, most people get Bitcoins through exchanges, where you can buy and sell the currency, oftentimes for hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of dollars apiece.

The one big advantage of the currency is that it's a "peer-to-peer" system, meaning users can trade Bitcoins seamlessly, without the need for banks or other systems to get in the way.

"I really think Bitcoin has the potential to change the world," Petersen said. "And it has already, really. From security to saving merchants money on financial services to the speed of transactions in general, Bitcoin is good for merchants and consumers."

But the currency certainly isn't perfect. Bitcoin has already had its share of security problems, most notably with Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange that was at one point the largest in the world. In an embarrassing public incident last year, the exchange lost more than 850,000 Bitcoins, worth more than $450 million at the time, believed to be due to hackers.

In addition, because Bitcoin is still relatively young, its price tends to fluctuate constantly, making it tough to nail down its exact value.

"Right now, it just seems like people buying in to sell it to someone else who wants it so they make a profit, and that can only go on for so long," said University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, in a recent interview with the Minnesota Daily.

Despite those flaws, some Minnesota businesses, like the Movement Minneapolis training studio in Uptown and the DalekoArts theatre in New Prague, are already using Bitcoin, as TechdotMN reported in December.

--Follow Robbie Feinberg on Twitter at @robbiefeinberg or send tips to

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Nick Hannula
Nick Hannula

Doesn't he know Dogecoin, not Bitcoin, is the future?

Jennifer Spawn
Jennifer Spawn

i dont think you understand what a fiat currency is...bitcoin is the ultimate fist currency. maybe you should understamd the difference between money and currency before you throw your support behind ponzi schemes #lookupponsischemes

Misha Desean
Misha Desean

A REAL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY! *LIKE THIS POST/SHARE THIS POST* *ADD ME AS A FRIEND IF WE AREN'T FRIENDS ALREADY* I worked A 9-5 FOR A VERY LONG TIME AND STILL wasn't making far enough money to pay my bills. I found this program & in just 2 months I'VE now EARNED over 4k-5k a month & I no longer have to work for anyone else again! Now I'm making more money every single week then I used to earn in one month!! THIS IS NOT A JOKE! For more info please send me a FRIEND REQUEST & SHARE my POST for MORE INFO! — #teamsixfigures

Tyler St Cloud
Tyler St Cloud

This is amazing I like this man already. now what's his views on pot?

Andrew Berg
Andrew Berg

An elected politician trying to find an alternative to our inflated paper fiat currency? Many cheers to this man! But watch "the powers that be" somehow find a way to force him out of office :(

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