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Lawmakers Renew Calls for US to Lead on Crypto Innovation

“Cryptocurrency networks are much more than alternatives to the dollar or payment mechanisms.”

That was the message delivered to the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Wednesday by three lawmakers and members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus (CBC), a bipartisan group launched last year in a bid to support the technology and its interests on Capitol Hill.

Penned by Jared Polis (D.-CO), Tom Emmer (R.-MN) and David Schweikert (R.-CA), the letter does much to repeat the CBC’s past public statements, but notably comes weeks after both agency heads testified on cryptocurrencies, explaining to the U.S. Congress what they saw as their potential amid what was then a tremendous spike in their market valuations.

In this way, the letter encouraged SEC chair Jay Clayton and CFTC chair J. Christopher Giancarlo to follow through on efforts to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve on legislative actions. The signatories went on to thank the regulators for their testimony, while also warning them to continue maintaining a “light touch” on the space.

The letter said:

“The U.S. should be the home to this innovation, and should embrace these new technologies. In order for these efforts to be successful, it is imperative that we adopt a deliberate, flexible and unified approach to regulation.”

Additional dialogue was given to the question of token sales and initial coin offerings (ICOs), or funding mechanisms that rely on the use of custom cryptocurrencies.

Going forward, new proposed regulation or legislation should be “narrowly tailored,” the letter said, so as to balance consumer protection with the need for experimentation and domestic job creation.

Additional steps, it stated, should be “to avoid unnecessary concern and uncertainty,” concluding:

“We encourage you to allow continued innovation in the market, and devote more creative analysis into the ways cryptocurrencies can be utilized.”

Read the full letter below:

SEC CFTC Emmer Letter by CoinDesk on Scribd

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US Lawmaker Wants Members of Congress to Disclose Crypto Assets

A bitcoin-friendly U.S. lawmaker is hoping to get members of Congress to disclose their holdings of cryptocurrency assets.

In a written petition sent to the House Committee on Ethics dated Feb. 5, Colorado House Representative Jared Polis argued that, because cryptocurrency assets are regarded as commodities by several agencies, Congress members should follow the same financial disclosure requirement as for traditional assets.

Currently, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities Exchange Commission both regard cryptocurrencies as commodities in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service required that gains from cryptocurrency are also subject to federal income tax rules.

Polis argued in the letter:

“Members of Congress and covered employees are already required to report certain asset holdings over certain amounts, including reporting any commodities holding over $1,000, a Member or covered employee should report any virtual currency holding as they would report any other commodity, such as gold.”

The letter marks Polis’ latest effort in pushing through the normalization of cryptocurrency as part of his long-term advocacy for the technology.

As reported by CoinDesk, Polis’ prominence stemmed from his earlier satirical recommendation to ban the U.S. dollar and replace it with bitcoin in 2014. He also became notable as one of the first politicians in the U.S. to accept bitcoin donations for political campaigns.

More recently, in September 2017, he introduced a bill seeking capital gains tax exemption for holdings of cryptocurrencies worth less than $600.

U.S. Capitol image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.