Promoting Innovation, Protecting Consumers



If it’s true that the three most important factors in real estate values are location, location, and location, then perhaps the crypto industry’s value depends mightily on regulation, regulation, and regulation. That runs counter to those in the ecosystem with a libertarian ethos. But, as Wharton School Professor Kevin Werbach told a Circle lounge audience this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, “hundreds of years of the history of finance demonstrates that every time there’s an unregulated market, people get taken advantage of.” 


At several packed policy-themed sessions hosted by Circle this week, industry leaders explained how the lack of clear regulatory frameworks, in Washington and around the world, contributed to some of 2022’s worst market headlines – and harmed consumers. They also underscored how having such standards could advance greater utility and adoption. “The reality is that regulation promotes trust,” said Werbach. “And you need trust if you’re talking about money.” 


In Washington, Congress has been making strides toward enacting payment stablecoin legislation. Circle’s executives and policy team have been engaging constructively with Republicans and Democrats, and with regulatory agencies, with the mindset that good policy begins with good education. “The responsible companies should be and are asking for prudent regulation,” said Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP.  “You want to restore trust. And trust is essential to the growth of this industry.”


Europe isn’t waiting for Washington to act. French Minister for Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot told Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire that France intends to be at “the forefront of coming waves of technology” and to become “the major hub for web3 in Europe.” Toward that end, Barrot has been working to strike “the right balance between the stimulation of innovation and the protection of consumers and savers on the other hand.”


Part of striking that balance means recognizing that regulation must constantly evolve to stay relevant. “Technology always advances faster than regulation can keep up,” said Lee A. Schneider, General Counsel at Ava Labs. At a CNBC event called “Crypto’s Next Chapter,” Jeremy Allaire noted that new legislation will be instrumental to accelerating crypto’s utility phase in 2023. “I’m very optimistic about the technological progress and the regulatory progress,” he said. 

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