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Crypto lobby considers ideal Biden picks for SEC, CFTC, OCC

Crypto lobby considers ideal Biden picks for SEC, CFTC, OCC

The crypto lobby seems to be cautiously optimistic about Biden’s potential picks to lead the U.S.’s regulatory environment. 

That is, at least, according to a Thursday discussion hosted by TRM labs, featuring the executive directors of the Blockchain Association and Coin Center — respectively Kristin Smith and Jerry Brito. The pair got into a discussion of who they hope the Biden administration nominates to top regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, given that Janet Yellen seems to be a shoe-in to get the top spot at the U.S. Treasury. 

Smith said she hoped for more regulators who had worked alongside the crypto industry, à la current OCC leader Brian Brooks. She reasoned that despite some lingering stigma surrounding the industry, the actual legal professionals making it happen are an impressive crew: 

“If you look at the regulatory professionals, the general counsels that sit in the cryptocurrency space, these are very talented people who have worked in government previously, who have worked at top law firms, who are thoughtful. These aren’t fly-by-night, making-it-up-as-they-go-along professionals.”

Smith did not, however, name a specific person. Likewise, Brito’s wish list for a new SEC commissioner did not include a name, but rather some baseline understandings about crypto: “Ideally somebody who understands the technology and understands the potential, understands the risks, and somebody who understands that they are not a prudential regulator.”

Brito was optimistic that “that’s something a Biden administration should be able to deliver on.

Last month, both the Blockchain Association and Coin Center were part of vocal opposition to backstage conversations at the Treasury Department, which was looking to attack self-hosted wallets. The same issue has attracted Congressional attention. In today’s conversation, both Brito and Smith named this threat as a top priority to their current operations. Smith said today that “Up until this past summer, the industry wasn’t particularly worried about this issue.” 

Brito thought Facebook’s Libra, recently renamed Diem, was what drew fresh attention to peer-to-peer, from people unfamiliar with Bitcoin or Ether wallets that had long been using the same technology. “It’s something that law enforcement has been aware of and been comfortable with, and it’s something that FinCEN has been aware of and been comfortable with, but I think at other reaches of the government, it caught them by surprise,” Brito said.

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