US Congress needs to take control of crypto legislation

According to Kristin Smith, CEO of the Blockchain Association, a prominent U.S. crypto industry nonprofit, the United States Congress needs to take control of crypto legislation and make it a more “open process” where the entire marketplace is looked at “comprehensively.” This recommendation comes from Smith, who serves as the president of the Blockchain Association.

During an interview with Bloomberg on February 22, 2019, Smith said that the cryptocurrency business need U.S. politicians to lead crypto legislation, despite the fact that this would make the process “extremely long.” In the meanwhile, regulators will “step in.”

Smith mentioned that despite regulators “moving very quickly,” progress on legislation is happening “behind closed doors,” implying that it is essential for more industry involvement in a “open process,” which would involve Congress. He said this to suggest that it is vital for more industry involvement in a “open process.”

Smith is of the opinion that “very particular facts and circumstances” are at the root of the problem with legislators taking the lead on legislation via enforcement actions and settlements.

She stated that it is a tough situation for Congress to be in at the present due to the fact that many people in Washington, D.C. who “were close” to the former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX feel “burned” and “betrayed” over the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange in November 2022.

Smith is optimistic that stablecoin legislation will soon be implemented in the United States because, according to Smith, Congress has been looking into it “since 2019” and “the work has been done.” She said that it “came close” to occurring the year before, just before to the failure of FTX.

She went on to say that the dangers associated with cryptocurrencies are distinct from those associated with conventional financial services, and that as a result, regulators need to spend more time looking at market regulation and “tailor to those risks.”

Smith suggested that stablecoin and “market side” regulation should be a higher priority than focusing on legislating crypto-related criminal activity, saying that public ledgers make it “much more transparent” than what we see in the traditional financial system. This idea stemmed from Smith’s assertion that stablecoins and “market side” regulation were more important than focusing on legislating crypto-related criminal activity.

This comes after the chief policy officer of the Blockchain Association, Jake Chervinsky, took to Twitter on February 15 to state that regardless of how many enforcement actions the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission bring, they are “bound by legal reality.” Chervinsky also stated that “neither” has the authority to “comprehensively regulate crypto.” This news comes after Chervinsky made these statements.


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Law Decoded: A different Congress hearing, Dec. 6–13

The biggest regulatory story of the week was a United States House Committee on Financial Services hearing squarely focused on crypto. Even the event’s title — “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States” — conveyed a different vibe than countless previous Congressional meetings that had been first and foremost about investor protection or security risks or threats to financial stability. 

Judging from reactions from many industry participants and experts, the exchange has been received as an overwhelming net positive, with legislators asking informed questions and otherwise acting like their goal was to understand this new thing rather than act on preconceived notions. Of course, there were tired questions about Bitcoin’s environmental footprint and Representative Brad Sherman’s anti-crypto rants, but the entire thing finally looked a lot like a constructive dialogue between the digital asset industry and lawmakers that we’ve been longing to see for a while.

Below is the concise version of the latest “Law Decoded” newsletter. For the full breakdown of policy developments over the last week, register for the full newsletter below.

Hearing the industry

The hearing, called by the Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, centered on the role of crypto exchanges, the growth of the stablecoin sector, and general issues around overarching digital asset regulation. Several top crypto CEOs were summoned to represent the crypto space.

Some of the salient themes discussed on the House floor included the crypto-powered decentralization of the digital ecosystem — a politically advantageous angle at the time when many U.S. lawmakers are uneasy about Web 2.0-era tech giants’ power grab — as well as U.S. regulators’ reluctance to give way to certain crypto investment products that could be seen as a symptom of a fragmented approach to regulation. The relationship between the U.S. dollar’s global role and the growing demand for stablecoins also received much attention.

BIS: Terrified of DeFi?

Just not to get too carried away by what feels like a win on the Congress floor, a note on the Bank of International Settlements’ latest report on decentralized finance is in order. The “bank for central banks” took a deep dive into the sprawling DeFi space and came up with a handful of alarmist slogans such as “decentralization illusion” to describe it.

BIS analysts are concerned with some structural aspects of the DeFi landscape, such as liquidity mismatches and the lack of shock absorbers such as banks. The authors of the report maintain that the protocols governing DeFi activity carry risks of centralization, potentially leading to a concentration of power within these systems at the hands of the few. These assertions are sure to raise many eyebrows, especially among those closely familiar with the DeFi space.

CBDC watch

The BIS’ taste for a more controlled financial innovation can be seen in the news about its specialized department, BIS Innovation Hub, being actively engaged in trials of the digital euro-based cross-border settlement, along with the central banks of Switzerland and France. The experiment was deemed a success, but the parties involved made a point to state that it does not warrant the ultimate issuance of a European CBDC.

In other centralized digital currency news, a two-year-long investigation by the Reserve Bank of Australia concluded with a report that highlighted the potential for a wholesale central bank digital currency to improve the efficiency of financial market transactions.