As 2022 is kicking off, America nears the first anniversary of Joe Biden’s presidency. Following the tenure’s ambitious start, the last few months witnessed some serious tumult around the overall health of the United States economy, the administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the tense debate around Biden’s opus magnum — the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure legislation plan.
But even as the Democrats’ ability to maintain undivided power after the 2022 midterm elections can raise doubts, the party’s prevailing view of crypto has become more consolidated than ever. The incumbent president’s party will be setting the tone of the regulatory discussion for at least three more years, so a thorough look at the fundamental premises and potential directions of its emerging crypto stance is in order.
The narrative arc
The path that mainstream Democrat thinking on crypto has traveled over the last three years is perfectly captured by an anecdote featuring two crypto-related public statements made by a Clinton. One is by the 42nd U.S. president, Bill Clinton, then 72, who said at Ripple’s Swell Conference in October 2018 that the “permutations and possibilities” of blockchain were “staggeringly great”.
Three years later, speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, Bill’s wife and ex-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, though calling the cryptocurrencies an “interesting” technology, warned about their power to undermine the U.S. dollar and destabilize nations — “perhaps starting with small ones but going much larger.”
This startling difference in opinion within the power couple reflects the recent evolution of the Democratic party, itself — from a “third way,” business, tech and finance-friendly centrism of its 1990’s generation to the newfound statism with a heavy emphasis on redistributional justice and big government projects. By current standards, the former first lady sounded rather balanced in comparison to her party comrade Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has famously lashed out at the crypto market after the volatility outburst in early September:
Advocates say crypto markets are all about financial inclusion, but the people who are most economically vulnerable are the ones who are most likely to have to withdraw their money the fastest when the market drops. […] High, unpredictable fees can make crypto trading really dangerous for people who aren’t rich.
Warren berated crypto on numerous occasions, calling it a “fourth-rate alternative to real currency” that is “unsuitable as a medium of exchange;” a “lousy investment,” that “has no consumer protection;” and a tool that makes many illegal activities easier.
Beyond Senator Warren
The negative sentiment is largely shared by Senator Sherrod Brown, which is arguably even more unsettling given his status as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Brown’s opening statements at Congress hearings have never been amicable towards crypto. Their overall spirit can be summarized in the introduction that opened the July hearing entitled “Cryptocurrencies: What are they good for?”
All of these currencies have one thing in common — they’re not real dollars, they’re not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. […] And that means they all put Americans’ hard-earned money at risk.
Brown blamed the “cottage industry of decentralized financial schemes” for an attempt to create “a parallel financial system with no rules, no oversight, and no limits,” calling it “a shady, diffuse network of online funny money,” with nothing democratic or transparent about it. The lawmaker repeatedly rejected the notion that crypto could be an alternative to legacy money — last time at a December Congress hearing:
Stablecoins and crypto markets aren’t actually an alternative to our banking system. […] They’re a mirror of the same broken system – with even less accountability, and no rules at all.
It’s not all dark, though. One figure that represents a more moderate, if not pragmatic approach to crypto — Congresswoman Maxime Waters — would also play a major role in any future outcome for the industry. As a chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, she initiated the Digital Assets Working Group of Democratic Members with a mission to ensure responsible innovation in the cryptocurrency and digital asset space and “meet with leading regulators, advocates, and other experts on how these novel products and services are reshaping our financial system.”
Sen. Waters has publicly recognized that “Americans are increasingly making financial decisions using digital assets every day,” and affirmed that her Committee will explore “the promise of digital assets in providing faster payments, instantaneous settlements and lower transaction fees for remittances.”
What’s it all about?
The good news is that underneath the redoubtable oratory, there is a keyword: regulation. It is clear, at this point, that a China-style total war on crypto isn’t an option in the U.S. Therefore, what drives the heated activity of congressional committees and federal agencies in recent months is a clear intention of the Democratic establishment to sort out the rules of the game before the next presidential election.
Part of this effort of the Biden administration is the launch of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, a superhero team composed of the SEC, CFTC, OCC, FDIC and Federal Reserve System executives, with the secretary of the Treasury Department leading the group.
So far, the key product of the Working Group is a 26-page report on stablecoins, which advises Congress to designate some stablecoin-related activities — such as payment, clearing and settlement — as “systemically important” (which would inevitably lead to a tighter oversight) and limit stablecoin issuance to insured depository institutions, i.e., banks.
As in the pre-Biden era, the main problem lies with the core classification of digital assets. The PWG report failed to propose a novel interpretation and give precedence to a single regulatory body, thus perpetuating a situation where a variety of regulators oversee different types of crypto-related activity.
In October, Rostin Behnam, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a member of the Democratic Party, claimed that as much as 60% of digital assets can be classified as commodities, which amounts to proposing that the agency become the lead U.S. cryptocurrency regulator. He also further stated that his agency, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, would likely need “a regulatory structure for both securities and commodities.” How exactly that would help the ongoing patchwork approach to regulation is still a mystery.
The Democratic cause
There are several reasons to believe that the largely proclamatory activity of 2021 will be followed up by some real action in the following year. The first is the general idealistic mindset of U.S. Democrats. For example, the drive to aggressively regulate Big Tech is part and parcel of this mindset.
While President Barack Obama and some regulators worked alongside Google and Twitter to facilitate the growth of internet businesses, Joe Biden’s administration came to power amid the wave of popular anxiety over international cyberattacks, personal data leaks, Meta’s crisis mismanagement and the overall outsize influence on the political process accumulated by tech goliaths.
While Meta and Google have been fighting federal and state regulators in courts over allegations of anticompetitive conduct for a while, Biden’s team also pledged to hold tech companies to account for toxic speech they host and strengthen policing anti-competitive practices.
However, in 2021, we haven’t witnessed any significant policy steps in this direction. Neither of the two major legislative proposals — Amy Klobuchar’s bill, which would bar big tech platforms from favoring their own products and services, and a bill by House Democrats that seeks to remove some protections afforded tech companies by Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act — has become law.
The second reason behind the Democratic rush to put crypto within the regulatory perimeter is pragmatic: The Biden administration and its allies on Capitol Hill need money. Biden’s first-term agenda relies heavily on ambitious Roosveltian infrastructure projects. While the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act managed to get bipartisan support and was signed into law on November 5, the Build Back Better Act, which now hangs by a thread after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin had announced his opposition to the current draft, would cost nearly $2 trillion.
By some estimates, should it make it to the president’s desk, the spending program would increase the deficit by $360 billion over 10 years, making it urgent to raise more tax revenue. This is what makes a thriving crypto industry an important battlefield for Democrats, who see the possibility of harvesting some cash from it and an urgency to prevent tax evasion via digital tools.
There’s no doubt that the Biden administration will continue to pursue a strict regulatory agenda in 2022. We will see more Congressional hearings next year, but even more consequential negotiations will be taking place behind closed doors, where Democrats will have to finally decide whether the SEC, CFTC or any other body should dominate crypto oversight. Despite Sharrod Brown’s recent “with or without Congress” remarks, it is also hard to believe that Republicans will let their opponents single-handedly decide the fate of the industry.
Alchemy and Infura block access to Tornado Cash as Vitalik Buterin weighs in on debate
U.S. persons and entities must comply with the Treasury’s sanctions or face possible criminal consequences.
1096 Total views
15 Total shares
According to Twitter user @0xdev0, on Monday, Web3 development platform Alchemy and Infura.io blocked remote procedure call (RPC) requests to cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, preventing users from accessing the applications. The day prior, the U.S. Treasury placed 44 smart contract addresses linked to Tornado Cash in the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from blockchain or business interactions with Tornado Cash under t sanctions, with the possibility of criminal liabilities for violations.
The move came after the U.S. Treasury alleged individuals and groups had used the privacy protocol to launder more than $7 billion worth of crypto since 2019, including the $455 million stolen by the North Korea-affiliated Lazarus Group. Almost immediately after the announcement, stablecoin issuer Circle froze USD Coin funds held within Tornado Cash’s smart contracts. Meanwhile, programming repository GitHub took down the project’s main page and blocked developer access.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, claimed that he used Tornado Cash to donate to Ukraine. The intent, as told by Buterin, was to protect the financial privacy of the recipients so that their enemy, the Russian government, would not have full details of the transaction.
I’ll out myself as someone who has used TC to donate to this exact cause.
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) August 9, 2022
Others have also pointed out the mixer’s privacy applications, such as for an individual getting paid in crypto who doesn’t want an employer to see their financial details, or paying for a service in crypto who doesn’t want the service provider to see the past transactions from their wallet. On the other hand, the tool has, in part, acted as a hotspot for enabling anonymous hackers to launder stolen funds from protocol exploits particularly cross-chain bridges. More than $2 billion worth of funds has been stolen from such applications year to date.
Reddit partners with FTX to enable ETH gas fees for community points
With the new integration, Reddit users will be able to purchase Ether from supported Reddit apps via FTX’s payment and exchange infrastructure platform FTX Pay.
684 Total views
53 Total shares
After moving away from Bitcoin (BTC) payments years ago, online forum Reddit now seems to be inching closer to embracing cryptocurrency payments via a new partnership with the FTX exchange.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX and Reddit announced in a joint statement on Tuesday that the platform intends to integrate Reddit’s Community Points in the United States, the European Union, Australia and other markets.
The partnership features the integration of FTX Pay as a payment and crypto exchange solution to unlock new crypto-enabled perks for Reddit Community Points. Introduced in May 2020, Reddit Community Points are a measure of reputation in communities or subreddits, allowing users to own a piece of their favorite communities.
“As a unit of ownership, points capture some of the value of their community. They can be spent on premium features and are used as a measure of reputation in the community,” Reddit said when launching the Community Points two years ago. Reddit Community Points are based on Arbitrum, one of the most Ethereum scaling solutions.
With the new integration, users will be able to purchase Ether (ETH) from supported Reddit apps via FTX’s payment and exchange infrastructure platform FTX Pay. The cryptocurrency can be used to pay blockchain gas fees, or network fees for their Community Points transactions on-chain.
“We’re always working to empower communities and introduce new ways to use Reddit, and decentralized, self-sustaining blockchain technology allows us to do that. By working with FTX, we’re able to do this at scale,” Reddit staff software engineer Niraj Sheth said.
Bankman-Fried noted that the partnership with Reddit marks FTX s commitment to empower online communities to harness the power of blockchain. “FTX Pay’s payment and exchange infrastructure integrates with Reddit Community Points, making the customer experience a more seamless process,” he added.
The news comes amid Arbitrum developer Offchain Labs launching the Arbitrum Nova chain on Tuesday. Arbitrum Nova, the second chain launched in the Arbitrum ecosystem, is designed to serve as the premier solution for Web3 gaming and social applications. Apart from Reddit and FTX, other firms like Google Cloud, Consensys, P2P and QuickNode participated in the launch by becoming inaugural members of Nova’s “Data Availability Committee.”
One of the most popular websites in the United States, Reddit has been largely involved in the crypto and blockchain industry for many years. The discussion platform is known for once allowing users to pay for their premium membership in Bitcoin but removing the opportunity in 2018.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has been widely involved in crypto, launching a $100 million Web3 investment fund last year. Ohanian subsequently launched another $200 million Web3 and social media fund in collaboration with the Ethereum scaling solution Polygon.
Is your SOL safe? What we know about the Solana hack | Find out now on The Market Report
On this week’s episode of “The Market Report,” Cointelegraph’s resident experts discuss whether your SOL is safe or not.
1144 Total views
25 Total shares
On this week’s episode of “The Market Report,” Cointelegraph’s resident experts discuss the latest updates concerning the recent Solana (SOL) hack.
To kick things off, we broke down the latest news in the markets this week:
Bitcoin realized price bands form key resistance as bulls lose $24K, significant whale activity between $22,000 and $24,800 adds to the complexity of the current spot market setup. Bitcoin (BTC) consolidated lower on Aug. 9 after familiar resistance preserved a multi-month trading range. When will we finally break out of this price range and make the move towards $30K?
Institutions flocking to Ethereum for 7 straight weeks as Merge nears: Report, “Greater clarity” around the Merge has driven institutional inflows into Ethereum products, according to a CoinShares report. Is the ETH merge finally around the corner and will it bring new all time highs to ETH or has the price already been factored into the current price?
Circle freezes blacklisted Tornado Cash smart contract addresses, Crypto data aggregator Dune Analytics said that, on Monday, Circle, the issuer of the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, froze over 75,000 USDC worth of funds linked to the 44 Tornado Cash addresses sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. Could this mark the end for Tornado Cash or is there a way they can redeem themselves?
Next up is a new segment called “Quick Crypto Tips,” which aims to give newcomers to the crypto industry quick and easy tips to get the most out of their experience. This week’s tip: Have some funds ready to buy further downturns.
Market expert Marcel Pechman then carefully examines the Bitcoin and Ether (ETH) markets. Are the current market conditions bullish or bearish? What is the outlook for the next few months? Pechman is here to break it down. The experts also go over some markets news to bring you up to date on the latest regarding the top two cryptocurrencies.
After Marcel’s market analysis, our resident experts discuss whether your SOL is safe and the latest updates on the Solana hack. We also discuss why the network has been victim to so many hacks and downtimes. What exactly do these exploits mean for the Solana platform and if you should be worried.
Lastly, we’ve got insights from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, a platform for crypto traders who want to stay one step ahead of the market. The analysts use Cointelegraph Markets Pro to identify two altcoins that stood out this week: Radicle’s RAD and DigiByte’s DGB.
Do you have a question about a coin or topic not covered here? Don’t worry. Join the YouTube chat room, and write your questions there. The person with the most interesting comment or question will be given a 1 month free subscription to markets Pro worth $100!
The Market Report streams live every Tuesday at 12:00 pm ET (4:00 pm UTC), so be sure to head on over to Cointelegraph’s YouTube page and smash those like and subscribe buttons for all our future videos and updates.
Circle (USDC) Will Support Ethereum’s PoS Merge Chain Only
Ethereum Is The Most Prospective Blockchain For Web3, Hard Forks Not Necessary – DeBank
Insider Misconduct To Be Investigated by Celsius’ Creditor Committee
Crypto.com Obtains Licenses in South Korea
Beanstalk Stablecoin Relaunches Four Months After Getting Hacked For Nearly $182 Million.
‘Continue to ebb and flow over time’: Denny’s chief brand officer on how consumers’ moods inform brand messaging
Bitcoin hits $45K ahead of July inflation report, but one fractal hints at looming correction
Smart Marketing Token (SMT) Is on a Mission to Help Blockchain Projects Reach Their Goals
Identity management org Sailpoint unveils no-code tool
Japan crypto exchange bitbank upgrades performance of its matching engine by 4x
Bit Coin3 months ago
DeFi transforming lending routes on the blockchain
Bit Coin3 months ago
Look out below! Ethereum derivatives data hints at further downside from ETH
Tech3 months ago
Nvidia releases its first open-source Linux drivers
Bit Coin3 months ago
Miami and New York City coins tank despite Mayoral endorsements
Bit Coin3 months ago
An Anime Action Adventure: YOANN․IO Seed Launch on KICK․IO
Tech3 months ago
Report: Apple is testing USB-C iPhone models for 2023
Bit Coin3 months ago
Swiss think tank urges greater global cooperation on crypto regulation
Bit Coin2 months ago
Sequel to Iconic RPG Ni No Kuni to Feature NFT Integration and Play-to-Earn Mechanics