Has Congress finally got crypto?

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Nikhilesh De at Coindesk suggests that there was a very important takeaway from Congress’s Libra hearings last week: “While giving Facebook executive David Marcus the third degree, lawmakers took pains to distinguish between the social network’s project and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

Among the questions thrown at Marcus and Coinshares chief strategy officer, Meltem Demirors, were “why did Facebook have to build a cryptocurrency, and not just argue what the benefits of a cryptocurrency network could be in general?” and what is the difference between bitcoins and shitcoins?

But, as Omer Ozden, CEO of Rocktree Capital, a blockchain-focused merchant bank said, “Whatever their thoughts on Facebook and Libra, they didn’t paint their thoughts of bitcoin and crypto with the same brush.”

Of course there were some typical anti-crypto responses from the lawmakers, but overall there appeared to be a sort of maturity around how lawmakers are approaching the space now.

Ozden also remarked, “I was really impressed to see they knew enough to say ‘we know the hearings are separate from crypto. They at least knew enough to separate that.”

Perianne Boring, founder of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, which held a blockchain education event with lawmakers the day after the second hearing said, “We’ve come a long way in terms of the understanding of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Congress.” She added, “It was encouraging to see that there are more members of Congress … that are able to make that distinction between different types of products and services and applications that are available and also being able to understand they’re different.”

Furthermore, Chen Arad, chief marketing officer of compliance at Solidus Labs, said the way the committee appears to be handling the potential legislation was a positive sign: “I particularly appreciated Chairman Waters repeatedly admitting the committee doesn’t understand the issue well enough, and that they’re looking to learn before they can take legislative action effectively.”

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