US crypto industry comes to Washington, but faces uphill struggle

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Sept 27 (Reuters) – Crypto firms are descending on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, however their push to advance industry-friendly legal guidelines is more likely to be overshadowed by a combat over the federal finances and a Senate crackdown on the usage of crypto for cash laundering.

Dozens of executives from digital asset firms are assembly with lawmakers and their employees on Wednesday as a part of a grassroots advocacy marketing campaign organized by Coinbase (COIN.O), the most important U.S. crypto alternate, and Stand With Crypto, a non-profit it based.

The Home Monetary Providers Committee in July handed two main payments that might assist present readability over which present monetary guidelines apply to the {industry}, and crypto lobbyists hope they’ll persuade lawmakers to advance these by Congress.

However with lawmakers centered on averting a government shutdown and different competing payments that should go this yr, together with the Farm Invoice and Nationwide Protection Authorization Act (NDAA), the {industry} could battle to be heard.

“There is a mind-boggling variety of competing areas however … we have to preserve pounding the desk,” mentioned Katherine Dowling, common counsel and chief compliance officer at Bitwise, a crypto funding supervisor. The corporate is one among a number of pushing for the U.S. Securities and Trade Fee to approve a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

Crypto firms have been increasing in Washington to fight rising regulatory scrutiny, particularly from the SEC which says the {industry} has been flouting its guidelines. Lobbying escalated after the SEC sued Coinbase and its rival Binance in June for allegedly failing to register tokens, claims they deny.

The {industry} spent almost $13 million on federal lobbying within the first half of 2023, placing it on observe for an additional file yr after spending $21.6 million in 2022, new information offered by OpenSecrets to Reuters confirmed. Coinbase led the pack at $1.4 million.

The crypto delegation on Wednesday consists of Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, who’s assembly with Democrats and Republicans from each chambers of Congress, a spokesperson mentioned. It additionally consists of an government from OpenSea, the highest non-fungible token market.

“Everyone desires to guarantee that what they’re doing is not going to be erased by the federal government,” mentioned Kara Calvert, head of U.S. coverage at Coinbase, referring to the crypto {industry}.

An OpenSea spokesperson mentioned the corporate was excited that policymakers have taken an curiosity in NFTs, and “hope(s) {that a} collaborative strategy” to regulation will foster innovation and shield customers.

Coinbase additionally this month launched a media marketing campaign which is able to embody ads in Washington and calls-to-action by itself platform for crypto customers to induce their members of Congress to go crypto laws.

The result is unsure, mentioned Mark Hays, senior coverage analyst at Individuals for Monetary Reform and Demand Progress.

“It isn’t clear to me whether or not the {industry}’s efforts to bootstrap a crypto grassroots marketing campaign out of nowhere goes to translate into one thing that is politically impactful.”


The July payments would outline when a cryptocurrency is a safety or a commodity, curbing the SEC’s authority. One other invoice would create federal guidelines for stablecoins, tokens pegged to a standard asset.

The subsequent step is consideration by the complete Home, or for the payments to be launched within the Senate. A Home vote earlier than year-end is feasible, however the outlook is dimmer within the Senate, the place industry-friendly crypto payments have failed to achieve traction.

As a substitute, each side of the aisle are centered on curbing the usage of crypto in cash laundering and terrorist financing. The Senate in July handed its model of the NDAA, which included an modification rising scrutiny of nameless crypto transactions.

And Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown of Ohio has proven little curiosity in making it a precedence to advance the Home payments.

“The very last thing we want is for the crypto {industry} to write down their very own rulebook — too many Ohioans have been burned by fraud and scams,” mentioned Brown in an announcement to Reuters.

“We’d like a framework of guidelines for crypto that protects our economic system and protects Ohioans’ hard-earned cash.”

Nonetheless, Coinbase is stepping up its efforts in Ohio, the place Brown is dealing with re-election subsequent yr, with grassroots occasions elevating consciousness of the {industry}’s function within the native economic system.

With out Brown’s help, industry-backed crypto laws within the near-term stays unlikely, mentioned Ian Katz, managing director of coverage analysis agency Capital Alpha Companions. “If it would not appear pressing, and the chairman of the related committee is not that into it, it is onerous to see it occurring.”

Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Enhancing by Michelle Worth and Richard Chang


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Hannah Lang covers monetary know-how and cryptocurrency, together with the companies that drive the {industry} and coverage developments that govern the sector. Hannah beforehand labored at American Banker the place she lined financial institution regulation and the Federal Reserve. She graduated from the College of Maryland, Faculty Park and lives in Washington, DC.

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