Of the 80 companies that reported lobbying for fintech in the first quarter of 2019, more than half cited bitcoin and blockchain among their main ongoing concerns, Roll Call writes.
Overall, they spent more than $42 million for fintech-related lobbying. However, Roll Call states, the data appears to be somewhat skewed as a portion of the $16.4 million spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce relates to issues unrelated to fintech, for instance, trade and infrastructure.
The lobbyists have prioritized two main issues. Because of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s unclear guidance regarding digital token and security differentiation, the industry is lobbying for a bill that’d exempt digital tokens from securities regulations, said Kristin Smith of the Blockchain Association.
Another serious issue is taxes. IRS’s guidance is scarce and does not refer to many newer developments, such as cryptocurrency forks. Since cryptocurrencies do not have a clear regulatory status and can be regarded as either currency, securities, or futures contracts, tax simplification is long overdue.
General Manager of IBM Blockchain, Marie Wieck, told The Block about the company's global lobbying efforts to improve regulation in the space, although noted "it's definitely not" a large part of IBM’s budget. The company was involved in a pro-blockchain initiative in Arkansas, which recently passed a bill supporting blockchain.
Wieck said, "We've been involved in blockchain for Arkansas, which is an initiative working with the universities and the state government on how to encourage and improve usage. The bill was on the accordance of smart contracts as a supported means of collaboration.”