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Thursday 20 June 2019


Blockchain association launches in US

Written by Peter Walker

A group of cryptocurrency and blockchain startups and investors have formed the Blockchain Association, a lobbying group to amplify their influence in US politics.

The trade association’s initial members include San Francisco-based Coinbase and Boston-based Circle Internet Financial, two of the biggest digital currency exchanges. Blockchain-focused investment firms Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital have also joined.

The Washington, DC-based group has made Kristin McKenzie Smith its new director of external affairs. She previously was a legislative assistant to former Maine Republican senator Olympia Snowe, as well as being a Washington lobbyist with Alpine Group.

The Blockchain Association states one of its aims is to educate policymakers and the public on the benefits of blockchain and related technologies.

“On the industry side, innovators face regulatory minefields,” the group’s statement reads. “On the policy side, lawmakers must navigate trust and safety, security concerns, and consumer protection. Among the general public and members of the media, many people do not understand what blockchain is and isn’t.”

The move comes amid mixed signals from US authorities on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this week, Paxos, a US-based blockchain startup, was approved by New York regulators to launch a ‘stablecoin’ currency pegged to the US dollar. Its approval came on the same day the regulator gave the green light to another stablecoin, the Gemini dollar, which is traded on the Gemini Trust company exchange run by the Winkelvoss twins.

In May, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) set up a mock Initial Coin Offering (ICO) website to help educate potential investors about the risks inherent in such opportunities. This followed a speech from SEC commissioner Hester M. Peirce, where she sounded a note of caution around cryptocurrencies and the regulator’s role in policing the market.

In the UK, similar groups have sprung up in recent years. The cryptocurrency trade body, CryptoUK warned politicians in June that the UK risks missing out from the global cryptocurrency economy if it fails to bring the sector within the remit of financial services regulation.

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