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Industry warns Congress the U.S. risks ‘chilling’ regulations on crypto

Reuters | Pete Schroeder and Katanga Johnson | Dec 8, 2021

Alesia Haas coinbase - Industry warns Congress the U.S. risks 'chilling' regulations on crypto

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Top executives from six cryptocurrency firms told Congress on Wednesday to tread lightly in imposing new rules on digital assets - or risk sending activity underground or outside the United States.

At the hearing at the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, executives leading some of the world's biggest crypto companies indicated in prepared testimony they generally support clearer rules. But they emphasized that overly restrictive ones would not stifle the activity, but merely push it away from U.S. reach.

See:  Biden’s report on Stablecoins Misses the Mark

"Without tailored legislative solutions that are openly debated with public participation, the United States risks unnecessarily onerous and chilling laws and regulations," warned Alesia Haas, chief executive of Coinbase Inc, in testimony released on Tuesday. "This could effectively push crypto activity underground or to offshore exchanges that have little or no compliance programs."

Representative Maxine Waters, the Democrat who chairs the panel, said there are "several questions" about the need for new rules for crypto, and also highlighted concerns about significant energy usage to mine and trade cryptocurrency.

"Cryptocurrency markets have no overarching or centralized regulatory framework, leading investments in the digital assets space vulnerable to fraud, manipulation and abuse," she said.

To the contrary, Representative Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the panel, urged lawmakers to seek ways to boost cryptocurrency with sufficient safeguards.  "We should embrace it, we should understand it, and we should be international leaders in this space," he said.

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Executives said they would welcome regulatory clarity, but that overly restrictive rules could prove counterproductive.

"Stablecoins and internet-native capital markets are not too big to fail, but they are now too big to ignore," said Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle Internet Financial. "Policy frameworks need to support an open and competitive playing field, and allow new technologies to flourish."

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