Digital Currency Goes to Washington

The rapid rise of digital currency has driven accelerated engagement with policy makers and regulators in Washington. Notably, the rise of global stablecoins and the prospects for central bank money digital currency have intensified policy maker interest. Amid the COVID-19 induced economic crisis, discussions have accelerated around the benefits of ‘digital dollars’, which are increasingly seen through a national competitiveness lens, as advanced nations such as China make blockchain technology and digital currency a foundational infrastructure for the future of their economy and their role in the broader global landscape, portending geo-political considerations.

Listen to this Money Movement episode to learn more about how Washington D.C. is reacting to the rapid growth of digital currency.

Jeremy: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Money Movement, a show where we explore the issues and ideas driving this brave new world of digital currency and blockchains. Obviously, we are continuing to see this rise of digital currencies and that rise is represented in a lot of different ways, major projects that are launching from major technology companies, from major governments and obviously, the continued organic rise of of cryptocurrencies, more broadly and stablecoins in particular.

All of that has really accelerated engagement with policymakers and regulators, not just around the world, but especially in Washington. This emergence, in particular, of global stablecoins, and very similar issue, the prospect for Central Bank money backed digital currency, have really intensified policymaker interest. We've seen that over the last year, and that's accelerated.

Now, amid the COVID-19 induced economic crisis, there's been this accelerated discussion amongst policymakers around the benefits or prospective benefits of digital dollars, which are now also increasingly seen through a national competitiveness lens, as advanced nations such as China make blockchain technology and digital currency a foundational infrastructure priority for the future of their economy, and arguably their role in the broader global landscape.

This is portending geopolitical considerations, which are certainly also very much on the minds of policymakers today. The crypto and blockchain industry have had a very long history of engagement with policymakers in DC. This dates back to 2013, when the Senate held its first public hearings on virtual currency, and so very excited this week, to be joined by several guests, who've really been at the forefront of working in the digital currency scene in DC over the years.

A really great lineup today, Kristin Smith, who is the Executive Director of the Blockchain Association, one of the leading industry associations dealing with Blockchain technology in DC, Perianne Boring the Founder and President of the Chamber of digital commerce, which has been very active in working with industry, and policymakers, and regulators over several years in DC as well.

John Collins, who is a founding partner at FS Vector, which is a premier advisory firm in the blockchain policy space and fintech more broadly in DC. Very pleased to welcome everyone on the show today. Hopefully, we'll have them here in a moment. Hey, Kristin.

Kristin: Hi.

Jeremy: How's it going?

Kristin: Good.

Jeremy: Hey, Perianne.

Perianne: Hey Jeremy.

Jeremy: Hello, John.

John: Hello

Jeremy: All right. You made it.

Perianne: [inaudible 00:03:17] is here.

Jeremy: All right. Good stuff. Awesome. I'm really, really psyched to have all you guys on today. You collectively probably know more about what specific congress people think, what specific senate staffers think, specific regulators. You guys are connected to a lot that's happening in this space. I think you're going to be able to provide great perspective.

Maybe we can just start very quickly, just for the audience so people are familiar. Kristin, maybe you could just start, just give us 30 seconds on the Blockchain Association and what you guys are up to?

Kristin: Yes, the Blockchain Association has been around for about two years. We are a trade association that represents companies in the crypto industry, and we work to change federal public policy to have a better regulatory environment for the entire ecosystem.

Jeremy: Thank you. Perianne?

Perianne: Hi, Chamber of Digital Commerce, we're the world's largest trade association representing companies in the blockchain space. We're actually turning six years old this Sunday. We've been focused on policy issues that impact the digital assets and blockchain community for a number of years. The mission of the chamber is to promote the acceptance and use of digital assets and blockchain-based technologies.

We strongly believe that policy regulatory issues are some of the biggest challenges impacting the growth of this ecosystem. We're based in Washington DC and spend the majority of our time and resources working on the policy challenges to this space.

Jeremy: Excellent. Awesome. Thank you. John?

John: Yes.

Jeremy: [inaudible 00:05:08] FS Vector.

John: FS Vector is we're advise financial technology firms across that sector, but do a lot of work with cryptocurrency and blockchain firms, specifically around regulatory compliance and political risk advice on all those aspects.

Jeremy: Excellent. Great, obviously you guys know all the issues that we're facing. We're going to drill into a lot of that today. John, I actually want to start with you on something which is taking a little bit of a trip down memory lane, and it sets the stage which is, back in 2013, you were a Senate staffer, you were working on the policymaking side of the house. I think you played a really critical role actually in galvanizing the Senate to really convene for the first time publicly on virtual currency issues.

The framing of the issues back then, it was sort of on the back of FinCEN's guidance around the financial crime risk and guidance they'd given, but there was a lot of activity around then. Tell us about that moment in time. What was going on in the Senate, with policymakers and framing it? Then we'll fast forward in a little bit to where we are today, there's certainly a very different lens on it.

John: Again, Jeremy, thanks for having me on today. I will get to you, because you played a pretty pivotal role in that, but I worked for Chairman Tom Carper, at the time, he was then Chair of the Homeland Security Committee. I've been familiar with Bitcoin for a while, but had not bought any, had not done anything with it, and it presented itself in the news in some way or another.

I can't remember if it was a market crash or a market uptick, but it was clear that you had on one side of the spectrum, Marc Andreessen saying, "This is going to be the next generation of the internet," and then on the other side saying it's only useful for crime. How do we mitigate whatever risks are there, but also, if it is this next generation technology, shouldn't the government he paying attention to it, and talking about it, and working through whatever issues it presents?

I think you were one of the first people that I talked to, and you came in with John Betcha, who, I don't know where the hell that guy is, but you came in, and I got to say, you're probably the only person in crypto that looks better today than the day it started. You were like, here was a very successful business person and you came in, you're like, "Look--" You were very humble.

You were like, "Look, here's what I'm working on. Here's why I'm working on it. I think it's incredibly important." That meant a lot. That's why we did that work, talk to leaders, like yourself, VCs, law enforcement, and just tried to figure out where this thing was going.

Jeremy: Back then, I know you advise on political risk, early on, we hired a promontory financial to help assess. My investors were like, "Are we going to go to jail if we do this? Can you help us let us know if this is actually going to be legal," but obviously, there's been a huge amount of progress there. Obviously, things have changed dramatically since 2013. I'm going to fast forward a little bit, Perianne, like you said, you got started pretty early in this as well.

Maybe just describe, like, you had to make a pitch six years ago, and things like Ethereum didn't even exist, but you had to make a pitch six years ago on why there needed to be a chamber of digital commerce, and why blockchain was going to be important. What was the pitch then?

Perianne: Like John, I'm a former congressional staffer as well, and I worked for a member who was on the House Financial Services Committee. I spent years meeting with all the lobbyists and the special interest group from the financial services space. I took a deep interest in Bitcoin in some of the earliest of days, and 2013 was a pretty big year for the industry, for me, and I think for everyone's understanding of where this was going to go.

There were a lot of big things that happened that year that led to the hearings that John was talking about. We had the takedown of Silk Road, this huge online market where they were buying and selling illegal drugs with Bitcoin. You heard the Mt. Gox collapsed. At the time it was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world. Over 70% of Bitcoin purchases were going through Mt. Gox. and they lost close to a half a million dollars in customer funds.

These were huge black eyes for the industry that were really still recovering from today and policy makers were reading about this in the news and felt like they should be doing something. We had a couple of hearings that's when guidance was issued by FinCEN, that was in March of 2013, FinCEN issued their guidance. There were multiple members of congress that came out and said very negative things about the dangers of this technology.

Joe Manchin called for a straight up ban on cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. If you read beyond the headlines, the idea that there's inherent security risk with Bitcoin is wrong. That was a lot of people's understanding that the idea that Bitcoins only used to purchase solicit drugs. Obviously that was the perception, but was not the reality. I felt strongly that this industry needed to have professional resources in Washington DC, to work with policy makers.

To work with people like myself and John who advised members of congress on these types of topics, and make sure they have the opportunity to truly learn and understand this technology. Most of the conversations back then were out of fear of the unknown. They weren't coming from a position of knowledge or understanding, they were coming from a position of fear and anxiety.

Jeremy: A lot of negative news, and damage control and negative news. We can come back to that given the negative news yesterday, but--

Perianne: It continues, yes.

Jeremy: I'm sure there's a few phone calls from policy makers on Twitter hacks, but it's interesting. I certainly, it resonates with me from that time as well. Any conversation you went into, it just started with like, "Here's all the terrible things, and what the [crosstalk]--"

Perianne: Are you really a drug dealer? What are you doing with all this Bitcoin, crypto stuff?

Jeremy: "What is this? Yes, I can't talk to you," that's like some problem. Obviously things have evolved a ton and things, they're getting very real right now, and they're really heating up in a positive way, and I think we have global stablecoins. We have the rise of the digital dollar stablecoins like USDC. We have China's digital currency. We have crypto really becoming an asset class. Then from a policy perspective, we've got the financial stability board working on policy recommendations.

We've got the Fed very engaged on issues here, the OCC and Brian Brooks who's now leading the OCC, putting some of these topics front and center. We've got multiple hearings that are continuing to go on. Really very, very different and the policy game and the policy attention is really different now. Maybe Kristin, just to start, what are you seeing, this getting real? What are the big policy attention focus areas that are happening right now?

Kristin: I think you're right. The focus right now for most policy makers is on something called a digital dollar. I think there are a lot of different versions of what that could be. If you talk to a house Democrat or a senate Republican, they're going to have different ideas of what a digital dollar is, but there is now consensus among policy makers, that it is a good idea to upgrade our money and I think that that's progress.

I think for a long time cryptocurrencies weren't particularly tangible or useful in their minds, but there is this first step of, "Let's figure out a better way to do payments. Let's figure out a way to compete with China. Let's figure out how to bring more people into the financial system," and they're seeing a digital version of the dollar as a way to do that. I think the challenge that we have as an industry and what we're trying to talk about is that, yes China there is very committed plan that has come from the top down, and the American system is different than that.

What we have here are innovators and entrepreneurs that are going out and experimenting and building and growing. That it's this marketplace of innovative ideas and services that I think is going to keep the US competitive going forward, and it's incumbent upon us at the blockchain association and others to help policy makers understand all of the great work that is going on with USDC and other projects that are out there. I think we have a pretty optimistic future. I'm happy to go into more detail on FSB and OCC as well.

Jeremy: I'm curious for Perianne or John, there's some concrete stuff that's coming down the pike, the OCC is trying to figure out how are banks going to be, what should banks' involvement be with this? The FSB is going to set guidelines that's going to ultimately drop down at the legislative level, or around the world. Some of this is response to what's happening organically in the market, some is in response to what Facebook is doing, but what are you seeing as tangible policy issues that may emerge out of all this?

John: I think going back to where we started, payments was really the only thing we were talking about. There is this nebulous idea of, this is an open protocol anything could be built, but no one was talking about DeFi, or CryptoKitties, or Stablecoins, USDC or others. I think the existential issues continue to be at the supernatural level and again, Kristin and Perianne could definitely comment on this. Does it affect monetary stability or not, and at what point is that flipping, and how do we make sure it doesn't actually get to that point?

How do we nurture innovation, but actually then not get to a point where we can't plot back? I think that seems to be where the global folks are. At the federal level here, I think AML, Anti-Money Laundering, terrorist financing, all of those are continue to be serious risks. It's what people seem to know the most about, the securities issues, and then there's still a lot of really, really important tax issues. They're only getting more complicated as these new applications get built. It's difficult for policy makers to keep up, because there's just so dynamic.

Jeremy: Perianne has the engagement level changed? Given that these are now lots of three letter agencies are now focused on this, or however you want to describe it. Has the engagement level changed? Are people leaning in more? Is this a time that there's critical mass that's being built there?

Perianne: One of the things that I think is really interesting, we have seen a huge change in the tone of the conversation towards blockchain technology and Congress, since the pandemic. Let's take a step back just a year ago, when Facebook had announced the Libra project, and there was this huge pushback to Facebook, to crypto, to digital assets. We have seen almost a 180 in that conversation. The pandemic has forced Congress to go digital, which is funny, because most members of Congress, the average age is like 50 to 64-years-old.

It's a much older generation, they're very traditional, they're now conducting business on their smartphones, they're holding hearings remotely, they're doing things they never thought they would ever have to do. It's highlighting the need to have strong digital critical infrastructure. Then when Congress passed these stimulus bills, the point of that was to get cash in the hands of Americans as fast as absolutely possible. It forced Congress to re-examine big issues in our financial system.

Just for example, according to the Fed in 2018, 22% of US households were under bank. Congress had this response to the pandemic of distributing the stimulus funds through the banking system, and that highlighted some of the problems, but also the need to ensure that our most vulnerable populations are not being left behind, especially in the middle of a global health pandemic.

That has led to Congress taking a much closer look at things like digital currencies and digital payments and digital dollars and in projects like Stablecoins, USDC. We're in an incredibly impressionable moment in history and it's pushing the conversation forward in a very positive way.

Jeremy: Some catalyst moments here. Go ahead, Kristin.

Kristin: No, I was going to say, I think we are, I think Perianne's right. We are a catalyst moment, and if you look at the landscape in general for policy making in Washington right now, Congress is almost at a total standstill due to the election, unless it's something directly related to the pandemic. I don't think we're going to see any great legislative victories, but I do think in addition to the issues that John mentioned, I do think we're going to see some great stuff out of the OCC.

We've got one of the industries own over there now who really understands the technology, and I think that there are policy clarifications that can be made that will make crypto less scary to the traditional financial services world. There will be acceptance of the fact that banks should be able to interact with this technology, and then hopefully ultimately potentially get a payments charter. I think what's important to know about the OCC is that it is a very special agency. It's independent. It's housed under treasury, but it's independent.

It doesn't have to go through the role-making process or getting approval from the OMB and OIRA of the traditional regulatory processes that most executive branch agencies have to do. It also doesn't need a vote of a commission, because unlike the SEC or the CFTC that have five voting commissioners that may disagree, this is one-man operation.

I think that we'll be able to see some fast this summer and this fall coming out of there. I think that will help pave the way for other regulators over at the SEC and FinCEN to have more comfort with advancing some clearer, more better policies.

Jeremy: That's very encouraging and hopefully can see some real progress there. I think one of the themes that's come up here a little bit, and it has to do where we were, where we are today, but is just the education issue here. Obviously I spent a lot of time on the hill over the past seven years and you have conversations, and you see how the education has evolved and certainly not evenly distributed at all, and in agencies and in other places, I think the prior head of the OCC was not at all well-versed in crypto and now Brian Brooks obviously exceptionally versed.

This what I call the education and knowledge gap, so many of in particular policy-makers, they come to the table thinking about like, "What are the negatives? What are the risks?" Reacting to news, but not necessarily committing the time to really understand this as a technology, what it can do for Americans, for businesses, for others, Perianne, what do you see as that education gap, and how do we address it, and where are we headed with that?

Perianne: Yes, well, there is a massive technology knowledge gap, and an even bigger knowledge gap when it comes to things like digital assets, and blockchain technology. I do think knowledge and education is our strongest tool as a community. I'll tell you why, I'm going to steal a quote from Jason Weinstein who's one of our advisory board members at the chamber and former head of the criminal division of the department of justice.

He said, "I've met a lot of people who are Bitcoin skeptics, and I've met a lot of people who know a lot about Bitcoin, but I've never met someone that knows a lot about Bitcoin and is a skeptic." Now, one of the challenges that we have is you can't teach cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology in like a 15 or 20-minute briefing. You can't really understand this technology in a full-day study or even a month study.

It's complicated stuff. We have to inspire people to want to make that personal investment in themselves to read and understand and study, and really take the time to understand how this technology works, understand what it is, and understand what it's not. We've made a lot of progress in doing that over the years, but one of the things that is hard is learning by doing is I think an important exercise.

It's the best way I learned is by actually rolling your sleeves up, getting your hands dirty and just trying it out. The problem with something like cryptocurrencies is these are things of value. We can't go walk around DC, or go walk around Capitol Hill and just start handing out cryptocurrencies to people, that would be completely--

Jeremy: Biden and Obama were giving out crypto yesterday on Twitter. Did you see that?

Perianne: Apparently so. [crosstalk]

Jeremy: We're all set.

Perianne: Yes. I think this year is actually a really interesting time. We're in an election year, as Kristin said, not a lot's going to happen because we're going into a lame-duck session, but everyone's out campaigning. I think we should be putting cryptocurrencies in the hands of the campaigns, in the hands of the members, and let them receive some, let them send some, let them receive a transaction. Everyone remembers the day they got their first crypto, or their first Bitcoin. It is an impression moment in anybody's journey in this space. Let's do that for members of Congress.

Jeremy: John, any thoughts on the education gap? You're in talking to people all the time. What are the tactics, and where do you think we are on that journey?

John: Yes. Look, I think there's still a lot to be done. There's certainly champions for the industry, but you can never have enough. I do think one thing that's changed is, you don't necessarily have to explain how blockchain works to everyone, because either they do get it, or they have heard about it so much they don't want to pretend that they don't know what it is, so they just let it go.

I think that's been helpful, but look in terms of actually how to like, get people's attention, you've got to be able to explain what this can actually do for them and their constituents. As much, and as cool as a lot of these different applications are, it's not going to hit the average member of Congress, who's got all kinds of other things going. Where we started, frankly, Jeremy with payments seems to be where we're looping now back around on the financial inclusion stuff and USDC and others.

Jeremy: Yes, it seems like, and Kristin, I know I've gone into various members of Congress with you and seen firsthand where are people in that learning. One of the other things that's always interesting is of obviously we have a very partisan Congress. We have had a partisan Congress for a little while now, and one of the big issues, and for me at least is as a technologist, I look at digital currency as a completely non-partisan issue.

Blockchain technology, the internet, these are fundamental breakthroughs and they shouldn't be partisan, but I still feel like on some of the subject matter, you have themes that are really important to the Democrats. You've got themes that are very important to the Republicans, and you've got very different audiences, you have a libertarian part of the Republican Party, and you've got a law and order/focused on national security area that crosses over into the Democrats as well.

You've got the financial inclusion and what are we doing for people who are underbanked, underprivileged, or are yes, underprivileged. Kristin, how do we cross the political divide here with digital currency issues in DC?

Kristin: Yes, no, I think that this should not be a partisan issue. It isn't necessarily partisan today, but I do think there are different messages that appeal to different parts of Congress. I think just to step back for a second and maybe tie together what Perianne and John were saying, I think there are three ways to get policy change in DC. One of them is through very strong relationships and being there, going to the hill.

The reality is a lot of relationships are built in political fundraisers. Yes, it's important for the community to support its champions and the people who want to be our champions, because that's an important part. I also think as John was saying before, crypto needs to be more useful to people because today, look at your wallet and you have some Bitcoin in there, but my dad does that every day. He gives me updates on the prices, but he's never actually taken a crypto out of his wallet.

Jeremy: We're working on that.

Kristin: Just, it's in there. I think when something like USDC comes along, or some of these other token that help with payments and people start realizing they can move things around. That's great but the third prong that can lead to policy change is messaging. With the Democrats, we have had a lot of success by talking about financial inclusion. We did a great event back during black history month when you could do events in person that was focusing on the financial inclusion issue.

It was well-attended by democratic members of Congress but on Republican side, they attend be more driven by US competitiveness issues with China. The Senate banking committee hearing is going to be holding a hearing on China next week to talk about these issues, and also just supporting private sector innovation, supporting startups, supporting capital formation. These are issues that Republicans tend to get more excited about.

I think at the end of the day, that can all get us to the same place where we want to have sound policies that make payments easier, that allow crypto projects to get up and running and started and all of the things that we want to see, but it's definitely a different conversation depending on which regulator, which policy-maker we're speaking to.

Jeremy: Yes, for sure. The last year in, particular, has been this huge upgrade in the conversation. Again, we've touched on some of the things that have driven that Libra, China, the pandemic, what's happening there, all this accelerating that. I actually want to just focus in for a minute on one of those tipping point issues, which was Libra is Libra. I think there was a initial let's just call an allergic reaction to some of the initial ideas and the way it was handled.

It feels like the Libra Association has pretty definite adapted their approach at the supernational level with the Swiss government and I think probably also with, with the US government, Singapore government, other key governments really evolve that. I feel like the conversation around Libra is a little bit of a proxy for the conversation around the acceptability of things like global stablecoins, the idea that blockchains are going to be a mainstream payment infrastructure.

It ties to things like what we're doing too, but John maybe you could comment a little bit on how is the conversation evolved around Libra in particular on the hill.

John: To disclaim, we advise Novi, which is the Facebook wallet that's going to be built on the Libra network. Look, I think to your point, we put out the white paper, the association took comments in, probably got maybe more comments than they expected from regulators across the world, but worked really hard to try and include them and represent them and work with policymakers. They put out a second one just a month or two ago and they're taking comments again.

It did certainly cause people to take notice because what had been discussed as theory like, "What if Bitcoin will become so widely adopted that it could destroy the financial system?" To, "Wow, this network is going to be built, and it could be implemented on day one to how many hundreds of millions of people," that really got people to get away from theory and start thinking more practically about it and cause literal nation-states to start thinking about, "Okay, whoa, maybe we're behind the eight ball on what we should be doing with our own sovereign currency."

Look, I think it's been a net positive overall, I think it's gotten more people interested and involved than they ever would before understanding terminology and parts of the industry that they wouldn't have.

Jeremy: It seems like that. Thoughts from Perianne and Kristin?

Perianne: I think what was so amazing about watching that whole process is if Facebook released a white paper, they put out ideas, they put words on paper, and the world had this, as you say, an allergic reaction, there was a significant pushback, and it created this catalyst of a conversation. We had the US Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin give a press conference on the project.

It caused the first sitting president of the United States of America start tweeting about cryptocurrencies, and while those responses came from a position of fear and skepticism, what it did was it forced some very important conversations to happen at a much higher level of government. Going back to what I was saying earlier about education and knowledge is one of our most important tools.

It forced people to spend more time understanding this technology, what it is, and what it's not, and where we are today is we have people in the highest levels of government who have a deeper appreciation for this technology. We've been able to move the dialogue forward. We're seeing that materialize in a very real way today in Washington and globally.

Jeremy: Kristin, I know you guys have been putting out more around stablecoins in particular, private sector innovation, public-private partnership, lots of ideas here. I feel like that whole dialogue has been upgraded a lot. There's a lot more openness on these things. Maybe you could just touch on some of the core positions that BA has been taking around this topic.

Kristin: I think for us, like Perianne said, it's educating about the terminology, and the fact that there isn't one ideal type of dollar backed stablecoin, but what we believe should be multiple different ways to do it. I think USDC is a fantastic model in terms of having a reserve backed stablecoin, but there are also some really interesting protocol-driven stablecoins that are out there, that have different features, and we think that should be tested out in the marketplace and let people figure out how to use them.

It's really just letting people know that digital dollars exist. There are, I think some policymakers that think the US is far behind and only the Fed can allow for this type of technology to happen, but we can get all of these same benefits by just having a really good sound policy that supports these different initiatives. We've been talking about that. We've also been trying to break down some of these root causes of why are people banked and unbanked?

A lot of the time it's because there's a lack of trust, or the fees are just really high, or there's not an enough of a balance to do that. Dollar-backed stablecoins or dollar-denominated stablecoins can reduce these barriers. They might not be off-the-shelf solutions that people are using every day to do that, but those are under development, and they're on their way. Then it's keeping pace with China.

If we don't have the right regulatory environment or we take new regulatory actions that stifle innovation here in the US, China has a state-run plan, and they're implementing it, and they're going, and we don't want-- I think that the US can stay competitive as long as we have the right environment to support that competition.

Jeremy: I want to ladder off that for a second and really drill into that. I think at the end of the day, the policymakers in Washington, they work for the American people. Their job is to help build the economy, create opportunities for people, bring people out of poverty, continue to give them a good standard of living, enjoy economic freedom, all these things. Clearly, blockchain is this unbelievable opportunity for global economic leadership, global technology leadership.

I think the smartest people in the room understand that this is fundamental new infrastructure for how the world's going to work over the next decade, but in the US, policymakers really seem to be much more focused on the risks, on upgrades to the legacy financial system, or legacy financial systems issues, whereas in China has been noted this is a front and center strategic national priority.

As you said, it's from presidency down, it's to every city, every mayor, every major financial institution, they all have a blockchain strategy. There's just an unbelievable amount of effort there, and it doesn't seem to be connecting to leadership on the policy side in the US. I'd be interested in all of your thoughts on that, and how we can move the agenda. By the way, I am not of the view of that this is a US versus China thing at all.

I certainly believe in free-market innovation, private sector innovation, open internet standards, and open internet as a whole. I think the benefits of digital currency are inherently global, and this is about everyone in the world and bringing everyone in the world into a more inclusive financial system, but the US plays a major role in this existing world economic order. That order is being changed right now.

Perianne: Yes, you're absolutely right. The perspective and the majority of the activities happening in Washington today around blockchain technology and digital currencies are about addressing the risk, where we're not having the other half of the conversation, which is realizing the benefits of this technology.

This is why at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, almost two years ago, we issued a national action plan for blockchain technology where we have called on our national leaders in the United States to do just that, to put together an action plan, to put together a strategy on how we're going to lead in the development of blockchains globally.

I think it's absolutely imperative for the United States, both economic and national security to have blockchain technologies developed and built in the United States by US companies, and we must support the private sector's efforts to innovate with crypto and blockchains.

Jeremy: Any other thoughts on that topic?

Kristin: I think it would be fantastic to have a coordinated approach. I worry that the government is not maybe it's most functional at the moment right now. What we have to do is rely on the areas of support and the champions that we have to move the conversation forward. I think that as we see greater consumer adoption and use of USDC and other cryptocurrencies.

I think the markets can actually prove out and win this one. When the benefits become so obvious because people are using it every day, then that's when we'll see the types of comprehensive policy change we need. I wish we could have it on the front end. I really do. I echo and support any efforts we can to make that happen. I'm just not optimistic in the current political environment that that's going to happen, but we can still make progress. I hope that as new people cycle in and out of our government that we can get that leadership that we need.

Jeremy: John, any last words?

John: Well, Kristin, Joe Biden's going to fix everything. As a good Delaware Democrat, I can tell you that. To echo what everyone said, yes, certainly competitiveness with China is going to be a driving factor, I think. Obviously, China's doing it for entirely different reasons, I would hope, than we are. Lack of privacy is not the knock-on effect. It's perhaps the primary goal of that system.

Look, I think if you look back, and we've said this a billion times, what Clinton did with the Electronic Commerce Act and the Internet was useful, and it happened in part because of the things Jeremy that you said in your testimony, which I read, and it's held up well. Things that Jerry Brito has been saying well before he was a Coin Center. That when you have open networks that allow people to communicate peer to peer it is inevitable that it will grow and fans will come of it.

If we accept that inevitability everybody needs to come together and figure out how we're going to nurture that innovation, and deal with whatever risks come up.

Jeremy: That's awesome. Well, I want to thank all of you for a really enjoyable conversation today. I can certainly say, with first-hand knowledge, we have come a very long way in this period of time and it seems to be accelerating, and that's really exciting. I think in the next two to three years we're going to see probably 2X the progress that we've seen in the last seven years.

Being on that curve is great, and you guys I know are all playing a really pivotal role in shaping this as well. Thank you for joining the conversation today.

Kristin: Thanks, Jeremy. Yes, it does [crosstalk]. We've come a long way and it feels like we're just getting started at the same time. I'm super excited about the future of the space.

Jeremy: Totally. Awesome. All right, guys. Thanks so much for joining.

John: Thanks, Jeremy.

Perianne: All right, thank you.

Jeremy: Obviously some very exciting developments that are continuing to happen on the policy side, and a lot of themes that we've touched on here. Actually, one of the major issues that was just touched on, that has actually vexed policymakers and regulators, and it's really fundamental to the growth and adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain, is these issues around financial privacy. How can we be assured of our privacy with blockchain payments?

Are the risks of government and law enforcement overreach? Really, on the flip side, what are the boundaries of financial privacy for individuals, and what risks to privacy-preserving technologies pose to governments? Then, ultimately, what about corporate and commercial privacy? Public blockchains are these really transparent infrastructures. How can a company or a business adopt this and not be at risk of disclosing private transaction activity as a firm?

Next week we're going to be going deep, doing a deep dive into digital currency, stablecoins, and financial privacy with, I think, two exceptional guests. Jerry Brito, founder and executive director of Coin Center who's one of the preeminent think tanks on digital currency, and a firm that has done a lot of thinking on this topic, and Paul Brody, a principal and global blockchain leader at Ernst and Young.

One of the drivers behind the Nightfall project, which aims to enable privacy preserved payment transactions on Ethereum, while also enabling trusted third party audits. It should be a really interesting show next week. Really enjoyed today. Until next time, stay well. Stay safe and stay informed. Thank you.

[music]

Perianne Boring
Founder & President, Chamber of Digital Commerce
John Collins
Partner, FS Vector
Kristin Smith
Executive Director, Blockchain Association

Get more insights from The Money Movement in your inbox. Sign up today.