Kristin Smith is the executive director of the Blockchain Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the most prominent and reputable organizations in the crypto industry.
The past year was an awakening for crypto’s nascent national advocacy community.
It’s true: the industry raised a firestorm in Washington around the crypto broker provision in the infrastructure bill and was narrowly defeated in its efforts to remove that provision from the final bill by an unfortunate bit of Senate rule gamesmanship. We consoled ourselves with the knowledge and realization that there were several Senators and House members that would go to bat for our industry and that we likely gained new allies in the fight over this provision.
However, amidst all of the excitement and mobilization that the valiant August struggle brought, we should not lose sight of the fact that we failed insofar as the Senate even thought it was feasible to include such a provision in the first place. A truly influential advocacy and lobbying effort wouldn’t have found itself in this position.
Happily, we believe the crypto community has embraced the need for political power and is ready to engage at a new level of investment in the coming year.
First, some helpful context for the situation the industry finds itself in. The American public supports cryptocurrencies and their potential at unprecedented levels. Already, 61% of voters believe the US government should support the crypto industry so that our financial system remains a world leader. The sooner our national leaders understand the views the broader public already have on crypto, the sooner they’ll embrace the promise and potential of this technology. Many of the business world’s most recognizable figures have made owning and investing in crypto something close to boring. And other luminaries are leaving Web2 stalwarts for the green pastures of the Web3 frontier. Combine this with the growth of the crypto industry itself, generating good American jobs for workers right here in this country, and the tailwinds for crypto are clear.
To leverage this position, we are glad to predict that those telling the crypto story in D.C. will have access to much more resources over the next year and beyond. As crypto investors, founders, and others who have grown rich in this space come alive to the need for a powerful lobbying and advocacy force, the amount of money available to those shaping the policy and regulatory environment will undoubtedly increase. Likewise, new types of groups have and will continue to spring up, formed around new conceptions of lobbying, messaging, legal, and advocacy work that the industry demands.
Unfortunately, while the broader public and business worlds are increasingly open to the promise of crypto, the average Senator or House member might have some ways to go. However, some members are much savvier. For example, Rep. Patrick McHenry, has proposed the Keep Innovation in America Act alongside Rep. Tim Ryan and a bipartisan group of representatives, which aims to clarify the digital asset reporting provisions in the infrastructure bill. McHenry is the Ranking Member in the House Financial Services Committee, and is ideally positioned to lead bipartisan efforts to correct the course of action and pass meaningful legislation that properly addresses the complexities of crypto.
This is a decidedly mixed state of affairs and demonstrates the long, uphill battle the crypto community must commit itself to if it hopes to shape federal regulation, rather than simply trying to prevent the worst impulses of the anti-crypto set. The stakes for the industry are incredibly high; punitive regulation has the potential to harm our industry’s growth and undercut the United State’s traditional embrace of groundbreaking new technology. One only has to look at China's recent effective ban on crypto mining to see what an anti-crypto government can do in a few short months.
The situation may not be so dire in the U.S., and the trends of general acceptance are with us, but we must fund and support our pro-crypto groups to ensure we are not just fighting fires, but building for the future. In 2022, I believe we will.
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