“J. Christopher Giancarlo for president!”
Thus read one of many tweets praising the market regulatory chief following the conclusion of Tuesday’s US Senate hearing on cryptocurrencies.
Giancarlo, who chairs the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), testified for more than two hours alongside Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
At the beginning of Giancarlo’s opening statement, he diverged from his prepared remarks to explain his view on bitcoin — not as a regulator, but as a father.
The CFTC chairman noted that none of his college-aged children had expressed much interest in investing, even though he and his wife had set up brokerage accounts for them when they were teenagers.
“Well, that changed last year,” he said. “Suddenly, they were all talking about bitcoin. They were all asking what I thought, and should they buy it. One of their older cousins, who owns bitcoin, was telling them all about it and they got all excited, and I imagine that many members of this committee may have had some similar experiences in your own families of late.”
This personal story resonated with cryptocurrency enthusiasts, many of whom have grown accustomed to bracing for impact whenever a regulator or entrenched financier opens his or her mouth to discuss bitcoin.
Then Giancarlo made a statement that not only won him their attention but also their hearts.
“It strikes me that we owe it to this new generation to respect their enthusiasm to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one,” he said. “And yet we must crack down hard on those who try to abuse their enthusiasm with fraud and manipulation, and we must thoroughly educate ourselves and the public about this new innovation, and we must make good policy choices and put in sound regulatory frameworks to reduce risks for consumers.”
The emphasis, of course, has been placed on the former part of that statement, as it represents such a tremendous divergence from the disdain with which so many skeptics view cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Later in the hearing, Giancarlo tipped his hat to the bitcoin community twice more, first by explaining that his niece is a “hodler” and then by pushing back against a senator’s claim that distributed ledger technology (DLT) could be dealt with separately from bitcoin, a common refrain from the “blockchain not bitcoin” crowd.
“It’s important to remember that if there was no Bitcoin, there would be no DLT,” he said.
Somewhat lost in the enthusiastic response to Giancarlo’s testimony were statements from both him and SEC Chairman Clayton affirming the need for “carefully tailored” regulations to protect investors, making it likely that Congress will eventually adopt measures to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges at the federal level rather than the state level, as is currently the case.
Nevertheless, given the heartfelt tone expressed throughout Chairman Giancarlo’s testimony, cryptocurrency investors may have found an unlikely ally.
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