The world is finally waking up to cryptocurrency and blockchain. After extensive Congressional hearings about Libra just two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee hosting an entire session on this budding industry, with Circle chief executive taking the stand to testify.
While much of the hearing was the same old, same old — Senators mentioning the risks that come with decentralized digital assets ad nauseam — there was a rather notable silver lining.
Libra has lit somewhat of a fire under the rears of regulators and lawmakers. Ever since the Facebook-backed cryptocurrency was unveiled in mid-June, global politicians, economists, and technologists have scrambled to try and comment on the matter of this new technology.
This culminated in Tuesday’s Senate hearing, during which a number of American Senators grilled Circle’s Jeremy Allaire on the matter of regulation in the crypto and blockchain space.
One comment was extremely notable. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, a Senior Senator from Idaho, claimed that he is coming under the impression that “these technologies and other digital innovations are inevitable”.
He adds that with this in mind, the U.S. would be unwise to crackdown on the industry, as they could be “beneficial” to many facets of the economy and society.
Instead of a crackdown, which Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have explicitly suggested, Crapo wants the U.S. to take a path of regulatory clarity, specifically to foster innovation, and thus benefit the local economy.
Indeed, many pundits and commentators have made it clear that if the U.S. purges local crypto companies, it may be left behind if cryptocurrencies and related technologies end up making the splash that analysts expect. As Ripple’s Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen recently wrote in an impassioned open letter to Congress:
“Without a doubt, blockchain and digital currencies will engender greater financial inclusion and economic growth not unlike the internet’s historic impact. As it did with the internet, the U.S. has the chance to lead the way, nurturing this economic opportunity while continuing to protect privacy and stability.
Crapo’s strong comment comes hot on the heels of a near-identical quip made by North Carolina House Representative Patrick McHenry, who famously stated just weeks ago that Bitcoin cannot be stopped, and is thus inevitable. Per previous reports from Blockonomi, the Congressman remarked that Bitcoin and the ecosystem that surrounds it is an “unstoppable force”, adding that those that have tied to “deter this innovation” have “already failed”.
Not All Fine and Dandy
Despite the relatively bullish comments from Crapo, the Senate hearing sported some anti-crypto views (as normal). Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz made it clear that he isn’t all too excited about certain facets of these new technologies. Rebutting Jeremy Allaire’s cries for better regulation in the United States (his company, Circle, recently set up a base in Bermuda in response to regulatory concerns), Schatz stated:
“What it sounds like to me is tech people wanting to wave a wand and skip a bunch of steps and avoid the tough politics of doing things for people and say, ‘We’ve got a new tech that will solve all this stuff.'”
The Senator continued, explaining that he doesn’t expect for blockchain technologies to “bank the unbanked” as many firms and executives in the industry have promised time and time again. Schatz later clarified that he still believes that blockchain is still viable, but is unsure that it’s “going to solve all these societal ills”.