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听证会落幕,美国参议院积极看待加密货币

全新的互联网金融模式国际资讯监管与政策

听证会落幕,美国参议院积极看待加密货币

在美国参议院银行、住房和城市事务委员会周二举行的一次听证会之中,与会人士探讨了立法者们应如何对待加密货币监管的问题

比如针对加密货币产业泡沫问题,商品期货交易委员会(CFTC)和证券交易委员会(SEC)负责人就在包括市场监督、价格波动以及首次代币发行(ICO) 等多个方面进行了讨论。

会后,不少观察人士也针对本次讨论发表了自己的看法。

总部位于华盛顿的Anderson Kill律师事务所的律师Stephen Palley表示,委员会成员以及监管机构表现出的对加密货币这样深奥话题的认知水平令他印象深刻。

Berger Singerman LLP合伙人Andrew Hinkes也强调了这两家委员会的意见:需要更多的资源来关注快速发展的行业

除了乐观情绪之外,一些市场观察人士也指出,听证会提出的加强监管的问题在具体落实时可能需要美国国会的支持。

对于像比特币交易所这样的企业来说,这可能是一个问题,因为过去几年来,这些企业一直在金融犯罪执法网络注册及国家授权汇款的货币服务业务框架下开展合法项目

其他在周二听证会上发言的人则强调了另一个值得庆祝的理由:立法者和监管机构似乎都认为,加密货币是可以存在的,但也伴随着风险。

实际上,Giancarlo和Clayton都对这种技术的可能用途提出了自己的看法,而CFTC主席的评论则在加密社区中得分最高,他的评论是“如果没有比特币,就不会有分布式账本技术”。

几位参议员也表达了这样的观点。

根据Palley的说法,最终的结果可能是美国决策者“理解技术”并愿意进行“负责任的执法和监管”

然而,听证会之后留下的一个最亟待解决的问题就是国会和监管机构将会采取哪些行动?

事实上,尽管Clayton自己说这些机构可能会向立法者要求更大的权力或更复杂的监管工具,但理论上,国会可以自行迈出第一步。

此外,有关联邦和州立监管机构之间协调合作的证据显示,未来几个月还可能会出现其他的附加监管措施。

正如Palley所建议的那样,可能未来美国证交会和商品期货交易委员会都将努力加强对加密货币领域不良行为者的执法力度。

 

These were just some of the comments that came from industry observers in the wake of a hearing held Tuesday by the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, one that addressed the question of how lawmakers should consider cryptocurrency regulation.

Widely anticipated due to its positioning amidst what has been one of the biggest industry bubbles, the event saw the heads of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) testify on a range of topics including market oversight, price volatility and the regulatory concerns around initial coin offerings (ICOs).

However, it was perhaps the measured and sophisticated nature of the dialogue that most stood out to observers queried.

Stephen Palley, an attorney for Washington, D.C.-based law firm Anderson Kill, said he was impressed at the level of knowledge displayed by both the committee members as well as the regulators themselves about such a seemingly esoteric topic as cryptocurrency.

Palley told CoinDesk:

"It's amazing that nine years after the Satoshi white paper, you've got senators talking about this shit and not pooh-poohing it."

Attorney Zoe Dolan struck an optimistic tone in the wake of the hearing as well, taking to Twitter to write that "this hearing has made me so bullish I can hardly stand it."

"As a lawyer – and a criminal defense lawyer in particular – I was heartened to hear acknowledgment that existing laws suffice to address age-old human conduct," she later told CoinDesk, adding: "Fraud is fraud."

Berger Singerman LLP partner Andrew Hinkes also highlighted the admission from both agencies that there is a need for more resources to keep an eye on a rapidly-expanding industry.

"Although this may stoke fear in the community, more resources may lead to better, more thoughtful and more facilitative regulation. Regulation is helpful when it provides useful guidance," he said.

More clarity needed?

Optimism aside, some market observers said they believe the hearing revealed the need for more clarity on the regulatory front – something that both agency chairs indicated may be necessary in statements that broached possible action from the U.S. Congress.

Reading between the lines of Clayton's remarks, Carol van Cleef, a veteran Washington banking lawyer, said a key takeaway was the "need for clearer jurisdictional lines."

And though he made a point of the fact that the SEC is coordinating with the CFTC and Federal Reserve, Clayton "kept talking about the patchwork system," van Cleef said.

"If he didn’t say it specifically," she continued, "he [implied] that it isn't enough for this space."

The subtext, she said, is that "somebody’s got to take control of this at the federal level.”

This could be problematic for businesses, such as bitcoin exchanges, that have spent the last few years building compliance programs under the framework of money services businesses registered with FinCEN and money transmitters licensed by the states.

"I did not hear enough today recognizing those kinds of efforts," van Cleef said.

Bigger picture understanding

Others who took in Tuesday's hearing highlighted another cause for celebration: that both lawmakers and regulators seemed to agree that cryptocurrencies are here to stay, risks aside.

Indeed, both Giancarlo and Clayton remarked on the possible uses of the tech, with the CFTC head scoring points among the crypto-community for his comment, "If there were no bitcoin, there would be no distributed ledger technology."

This sentiment was expressed by several senators in attendance as well.

Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito said of the hearing:

"Senators and regulators are certainly concerned about fraud and volatile markets in cryptocurrency, but it was clear from today's hearing that they also understand, as Senator Warner suggested, that it may be as transformational as mobile telephony."

According to Palley, the takeaway may ultimately be that U.S. policymakers "understand the technology" and are willing to engage in "responsible enforcement and regulation."

What comes next

One of the obvious questions remaining in the wake of the hearing, however, is what actions – both from Congress and the regulators – is to come.

Indeed, while Clayton himself remarked that the agencies may approach lawmakers asking for wider powers or more sophisticated oversight tools, Congress could, in theory, take the first step on its own. Van Cleef said she was struck by the way Clayton "made it clear that the gatekeepers, lawyers and accountants are subject to SEC jurisdiction."

That made her think that "there must be something in the offing" in terms of regulatory actions against such professionals, she said.

Testimony about coordination between federal and state-based regulators, aimed at addressing what Clayton characterized as a "patchwork" of rules, signals that additional steps could be taken on that front in the coming months.

Perianne Boring of the D.C.-based trade organization, the Chamber of Digital Commerce, pointed to this as a positive sign.

"We're encouraged that the SEC and CFTC are working with others to address the patchwork of regulation that suppresses growth and consumer choice, and provide a runway for the U.S. to retain its leadership in technological innovation," she told CoinDesk in an email.

Likely to come, as suggested by Palley, is a push from both agencies to step up their enforcement efforts against bad actors in the space.

He remarked:

"If you're somebody who's an innovator and not afraid of the law, this was quite positive. If you're running a $200 million ICO and didn't follow the law you might be a little worried now."


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