The topic of regulating and overseeing cryptocurrency has gained momentum in American politics for multiple reasons. There is a rising apprehension about the use of cryptocurrency for unlawful activities, such as money laundering, terrorism financing, and tax evasion. Consequently, there is a demand for stricter regulations and supervision to prevent such activities.
Increase in Crypto Lobbying
Firstly, in recent years, there has been a notable surge in the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology worldwide, leading to a need for supportive regulatory frameworks. This trend is evident in the United States, where the amount of money spent on lobbying related to cryptocurrencies has skyrocketed for the past six years.
According to a report by Money Mongers, there has been an increase of 922% in crypto lobbying expenditure in the US since 2016. This significant spending indicates that organizations involved in the cryptocurrency industry are investing heavily in efforts to influence policymakers and shape public policy. The top spenders in 2022 were Coinbase, Blockchain Association, and Robinhood, which are all prominent players in the cryptocurrency space.
The fact that these companies are allocating large sums of money for lobbying efforts suggests that they understand the importance of regulatory clarity and consistency for the long-term success of the industry. By influencing lawmakers and policymakers, they can help shape laws and regulations that support their business models and promote growth and innovation in the cryptocurrency industry.
It is important to note that regulation in the cryptocurrency space remains highly fragmented and decentralized, with different states adopting varying approaches. One state, Wyoming, has taken a unique approach to cryptocurrency regulation by exempting the buying, selling, issuing, or taking custody of payment instruments in the form of virtual currency or receiving virtual currency for transmission from licensing as money transmission under state law.
This move could attract more cryptocurrency businesses and investors to the state. However, at the federal level, there is still no consistent legal approach to regulating cryptocurrencies and developing federal cryptocurrency legislation remains a work in progress.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) does not consider cryptocurrencies as legal tender, and the regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges varies from state to state. These inconsistencies could pose challenges for businesses and investors in the cryptocurrency space as they navigate the complex and evolving regulatory landscape.
The Pandemic Has Accelerated the Adoption of Cryptocurrencies
Secondly, in my personal observations, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted various aspects of our daily lives, including the way we handle transactions and make payments. With the highly contagious nature of the virus, there has been a surge in the adoption of contactless transactions, leading to the growth of digital payment methods. Hence, cryptocurrencies have gained popularity as a means of payment.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin have become a safe and secure way to make payments without the need for physical contact. The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies and the use of blockchain technology to record transactions make them an attractive option for people who prioritize secure and transparent payment methods.
Additionally, the pandemic has caused increased economic uncertainty, with many people losing jobs or experiencing reduced income. In this situation, cryptocurrencies have become a way to protect wealth and preserve value. Cryptocurrencies are not tied to traditional financial systems and are, therefore, seen as a way to protect against inflation and other economic risks.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, including cryptocurrencies, as people seek out safe, secure, and contactless payment methods. As the world continues to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic, it is likely that the use of cryptocurrencies will continue to grow, further establishing them as a mainstream means of payment.
Interest in Blockchain Technology
Thirdly, Politicians worldwide have shown interest in blockchain technology due to its potential to transform various industries. Its decentralized and transparent nature provides several advantages, such as enhanced security, efficiency, and accountability. Many politicians have acknowledged the potential of blockchain technology to drive innovation, create job opportunities, and improve transparency.
In addition to this, cryptocurrencies have attracted significant attention from politicians due to their disruptive potential in the financial industry. Banks and financial institutions have dominated the traditional financial system for centuries, and cryptocurrencies offer an opportunity to challenge this status quo. Pro-crypto politicians see this as a chance to provide an alternative to traditional finance and empower individuals.
Several countries have introduced regulations to support the growth of the cryptocurrency industry, including Japan, which became the first country to regulate cryptocurrencies as legal tender, and Malta, which has established itself as a hub for blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses. In the United States, politicians and regulatory bodies are engaging in discussions about regulating cryptocurrencies effectively while promoting innovation and protecting consumers.
While there is no doubt about the potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to transform various industries, there are also concerns about the risks associated with their use. These risks include the potential for fraud and money laundering, as well as the lack of oversight and regulation in some areas of the cryptocurrency industry.
Despite these concerns, the increasing recognition of the potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies among politicians is a positive development for the industry. As more politicians and regulatory bodies engage in discussions about how to regulate and promote innovation in the cryptocurrency space, the industry is likely to continue growing and maturing, offering new opportunities for businesses and individuals.
The Banking Crisis Shifted the Narrative Surrounding Cryptocurrencies
Fourthly, the recent banking crisis in the United States has caused a major shift in the way people perceive cryptocurrencies. As experts suggest, the collapse of Credit Suisse and deposit runs on regulated U.S. banks have resulted in consumers exploring alternative options, including cryptocurrencies. Bobby Lee, a well-known figure in the crypto industry, also agrees with this notion, stating that the banking crisis has made investors view cryptocurrencies as a safe haven from the hazards of the traditional financial system.
A report by JPMorgan highlights that the banking crisis is perceived as a vindication of the crypto ecosystem. As a result, some experts believe that this crisis has created the perfect environment for a crypto revolution, leading Bitcoin through a significant bull run.
Furthermore, this crisis has brought to light the potential risks associated with traditional banking systems, which has allowed investors to explore the range of non-speculative use cases for Bitcoin. This first wave of bank failures since the inception of Bitcoin is considered a crucial test for cryptocurrencies.
The perceived reduction in the safety and security of traditional investments, such as gold and stocks, has led to a renewed focus on the ‘digital gold’ narrative. Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, are now considered a safe haven asset in times of economic uncertainty.
This has resulted in an upsurge in interest and adoption of cryptocurrencies as more people look for alternative investment options. This interest could be attributed to the increasing awareness of the potential risks associated with traditional investments and the growing trust in the security and stability of cryptocurrencies.
Crypto-friendly banks have a crucial role to play in promoting the adoption of cryptocurrencies. These banks offer faster transactions, fewer geographical restrictions, and better KYC and authentication processes compared to traditional banks. Therefore, this could lead to increased adoption, as it provides a better user experience for those looking to invest in cryptocurrencies.
I would even argue that crypto needs banks to promote adoption. If more traditional banks become open to cryptocurrencies, this could lead to a more stable and secure financial system. Increased adoption will result in greater stability and trust in cryptocurrencies as a viable alternative investment option.
Who Are the Pro-crypto Politicians?
The younger generation in the United States has shown a high level of interest in cryptocurrencies and digital assets. According to a survey conducted by SoFi in March 2023, over 36% of workers expressed interest in receiving cryptocurrency as part of their paycheck. With that change, I do see that politicians are taking their own stand on cryptocurrencies.
When I spoke to my crypto-native friends, they said to me that Republicans are generally more supportive of cryptocurrencies, with some even promoting Bitcoin as a form of currency. Democrats, on the other hand, have expressed concerns about the risks associated with cryptocurrencies and have taken steps to regulate them. I think it is worth noting that different politicians have taken different positions on this matter, regardless of their party affiliation.
Here is a list of 10 pro-crypto politicians in the United States, in my humble opinion:
Francis Suarez – Suarez is one of several local politicians in the US with a crypto-friendly stance. He took office as the mayor of Miami in 2017 and soon became the first American politician to take 100% of their salary in Bitcoin. He has also been hailed as one of the leading proponents of cryptocurrency adoption in the US.
J.D. Vance – Vance is a pro-crypto politician who won a Senate primary in Ohio in 2022. He has publicly disclosed that he holds Bitcoin valued at around $250,000.
Tim Ryan – Ryan is a pro-crypto politician who won a Senate primary in Ohio in 2022. He shares similar views with Portman, the incumbent he was challenging, on many crypto-related pieces of legislation in the Senate.
Andrew Yang – Yang is a former Democratic presidential candidate who has been an advocate for cryptocurrencies. He has previously stated that he believes cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have the potential to create a more transparent and accountable government.
Cynthia Lummis – Lummis is a Senator from Wyoming who has been a vocal advocate for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. She believes that Bitcoin can be an effective store of value, and has criticized the U.S. dollar for losing its value over time due to inflation. Lummis also supports the idea of a decentralized financial system and sees cryptocurrencies as a way to achieve this.
Bill Foster – Foster is a Congressman from Illinois who has been a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency. He serves as one of the chairs of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus along with Republican Congressman Tom Emmer from Minnesota. Foster has co-sponsored bills related to the regulation of digital assets, including the Central Bank Digital Currency Study Act of 2021.
Ro Khanna – Khanna is a Congressman from California who has been a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency. He has emphasized that blockchain is simply a technology with the potential to decentralize ownership and economic opportunity.
Patrick McHenry – McHenry is a Congressman from North Carolina and has been a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency in Congress. He has been actively involved in crafting policies that will govern the cryptocurrency industry and has pledged to regulate cryptocurrencies along with President Joe Biden and other lawmakers.
Ted Cruz – Cruz is a Senator from Texas who has been a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency. He has proposed making Texas a “crypto oasis” and has introduced legislation to require vendors on Capitol Hill to accept crypto payments. He has also pushed for the adoption of cryptocurrency within Congress using incentives such as food.
Eric Adams – As the newly elected mayor of New York City, Eric Adams has made cryptocurrency a significant part of his platform and has committed to taking his first three paychecks into office in Bitcoin.
The Future of Cryptocurrency Regulation in America
The future of cryptocurrency regulation in the United States is currently uncertain and evolving. Although federal regulations have not been implemented yet, several states have created their own regulations. For instance, as mentioned above, Wyoming has excluded specific virtual currency activities from being licensed as money transmission under state law.
Nevertheless, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently reopened a proposed regulation from the previous year that could potentially impact decentralized finance (DeFi) in the future.
Moreover, the Biden administration has shown interest in regulating stablecoins and mitigating their potential risk to consumers. It is expected that as the cryptocurrency market continues to grow, regulators in the US and around the world will establish more regulations to protect consumers and prevent fraud.
To stay current with the latest regulations, it is essential for companies, investors, and stakeholders to consult qualified legal advisors. Clear regulations will instill confidence in companies and create a secure environment for investors. The demand for regulations from the cryptocurrency industry is an indication of its seriousness and intent to expand globally.
The United States’ influence on the cryptocurrency industry has led to many watching them closely, akin to an ‘American Big Brother’ for the sector. Despite the uncertainty, I believe it is important to remain positive and keep track of the latest developments to adapt and thrive in this evolving industry.
Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.
Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.
An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.