Gavin Andresen Bitcoin Foundation Marijuana Industry
Bitcoin Foundation's Gavin Andresen speaking on stage at the Web Summit in Dublin about how cryptocurrency could be the solution to the legal marijuana industry's problems with banks Flickr/CC

Bitcoin could be the answer to the problem of marijuana growers in the US not being able to open bank accounts.

Speaking at the Web Summit conference in Dublin, Gavin Andresen from the Bitcoin Foundation said that one of potential uses for the cryptocurrency would be helping legal marijuana growers store their profits.

While many states in the US have legalised the growing and distribution of marijuana, most banks won't allow those making money from it to open accounts due to regulatory worries.

Credit card companies are equally reticent to get involved, so rather than storing large stockpiles of cash, bitcoin could provide a perfect solution.

"Legal marijuana industries could possibly be one of the big industries for bitcoin," Andresen says. "It gives marijuana growers a way of charging customers that doesn't involve cash." The Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist said he was even aware of people who are actively working on this issue.

Bitcoin is newfangled stuff

Andresen said that a year ago "regulatory clarity" was the number one issue facing bitcoin businesses, but today that has changed and "right now I think the most important issue for bitcoin businesses is actually interfacing with the banking systems around the world."

Andersen said banks are slow to embrace "newfangled stuff" such as bitcoin.

Asked just how big bitcoin could be, Andresen said that "no one really knows how big it will be" adding that the biggest misconception about the cryptocurrency is that it is some "deep, dark, mysterious thing for illicit markets."

Andersen said this was a "reasonable conception" as this was one of the main uses for bitcoin in the beginning but now "we have evolved way past that" with major companies like Dell accepting bitcoin from consumers.

The use of illegal bitcoins on the black market was highlighted when the FBI took down the Silk Road drugs marketplace and seized almost 30,000 bitcoins which were used to buy and sell drugs on the dark web.