US Congress today held a hearing by the House Committee on Agriculture on cryptocurrencies and their impact on the economy.
The hearing invited many prominent names in the crypto industry, including such names as:
- Joshua Fairfield, William Donald Bain Family Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
- Amber Baldet, Co-Founder, and CEO, Clovyr
- Scott Kupor, Managing Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
- Daniel Gorfine, Director, LabCFTC and Chief Innovation Officer, CFTC
- Gary Gensler, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management
- Lowell Ness, Managing Partner, Perkins Coie LLP
Bitcoin And The Attack On The DNC Emails
The indictment of 12 hackers linked to Russia related to their alleged involvement in the 2016 US Presidential Elections came up. The house panel asked if the hacker’s use of Bitcoin as a way to get paid and fund their activities helped obscure their identities.
The committee members were then informed that bitcoin’s public ledger actually allowed investigators to pinpoint the movement of funds much more easily than if the suspects were using cash. The committee chairman, Michael Conaway then quipped “As long as stupid criminals keep using bitcoin, that’d be great.”
A More Detailed Look At Crypto
Today’s hearing took advantage of the presence of several crypto experts, with the discussion becoming much more detailed than previous hearings.
Amber Baldet gave a look at today’s blockchain technology and recommended that Congress enact sensible and moderate regulations.
Baldet also advocated a “more proactive approach to regulation” as a means to support blockchain in its journey to becoming a global infrastructure, just as the country did with the rise of the internet.
The CFTC Recommends Action
The committee still held some concerns over bitcoin and other crypto’s volatility and the presence of ICO scams. Daniel Gorfine of the CFTC concedes the number of unscrupulous actors in the ICO space and estimates that around 80 percent of ICOs have become bankrupt.
Gorfine, however, emphasizes that his work is focused on a system to help educate public investors and regulators about the technology and identify and avoid scams and fraud. He points at the lack of education as a major source of ICO fraud, as well as the lack of clear regulations.
Please Speed Up Regulations
Gary Gensler, Senior Lecturer from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, encouraged Congress to speed up the creation of sensible regulatory rules to keep innovators in the field of blockchain in the country.
He believes that unclear and overly strict regulations could stifle innovation, forcing developers to move off-shore. This could mean other countries getting a leg up on the US in the industry, Gensler warns. He also emphasized that once people who drive innovation leave the country, it’s difficult to get them back once regulations are made.
Chairman Conway concluded the hearing, saying that “the hearing was very elucidating for them on different issues.”
A recurring concern voiced by many was the centralization of capital and mining in bitcoin. One concern is that a few wallets control over 90 percent of all bitcoin in circulation. Another issue is the fact that the biggest miners are in Russia or China, making up about 50 percent of all mining power.
Overall, the committee’s stand towards crypto is encouraging, and bringing in noted experts in the field shows a willingness to learn more about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Congress will definitely be on the right track if they bring in more experts in the future.