If there is only one thing that can be said with certainty about cryptocurrencies, and there may in fact be only one thing, it is that Congress does not understand them. Rectifying this was ostensibly the purpose of the House Financial Services Committee’s invitation to six crypto firms to join it on Capitol Hill for a bit of a teach-in. It proved as unedifying as you’d expect from such a forum.
“The industry has the potential to improve a lot of people’s lives,” FTX Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried told lawmakers. He noted the existing system leaves many without access to banking. “Cryptocurrencies do provide a potential way to address a number of these issues….”
“When you look at the number of people who are underbanked or unbanked, both in the United States and globally, it’s indicative of a system that does not work for everyone,” Mr. Bankman-Fried said. “This is a product of the intermediation involved, it’s a product of how the larger institutions have evolved, and it’s a product of payments infrastructure that is difficult and clunky enough to use that it just does not work for most people.”
Yup, that’s why cryptocurrencies exist: to potentially end the scourge of unbanked Americans. And given that potential, surely the good people in Congress should do nothing that might potentially prevent the helping of 5% of U.S. adults who could be helped in all sorts of other ways—like, said, Federal Reserve accounts, but more on that in a moment—in order to prevent all of the many not-particularly-potential issues, like cyberransom and money laundering, and all of the rather-more-serious-than-the-matter-of-the-unbanked-issues, like the stability of the entire global financial system.
Of course, even before the cryptochiefs made it to D.C. for their little pantomime, they got new that they’d already won a key battle in keeping themselves as unregulated as possible (and also keeping the Fed from serving those unbanked and thereby eliminating their alleged raison d’etre).
President Joe Biden’s nominee for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova, withdrew her name from Senate consideration for the post on Tuesday…. Biden on Tuesday condemned what he called the “inappropriate personal attacks” on Omarova, “that were far beyond the pale.”
For more of the latest in litigation, regulation, deals and financial services trends, sign up for Finance Docket, a partnership between Breaking Media publications Above the Law and Dealbreaker.