Cryptocurrency hearings in Washington

Story by Laura Martinez Fischer, CTV News

Dozens of cryptocurrency executives and regulators from the federal government will descend on the Capitol to testify before a House banking panel for the first ever cryptocurrency hearings.

A comprehensive examination of what the regulators think about cryptocurrencies will be the first step to guiding the federal government’s growing interest in the virtual currency space.

The hearing will give them a chance to explain how regulations are affecting the relatively new market for bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The main concern is whether the virtual currencies are legal tender like dollars, euros or pesos.

“While the crypto industry had hoped the hearings would focus on the rather mundane topic of how to run a virtual currency exchange, the Committee held several hearings over the last two weeks that have touched on issues critical to implementing financial regulations for crypto, including a tax regulation hearing in late September, a foreign exchange regulation hearing on October 8, and a virtual currency crime prevention hearing on Thursday,” wrote House Financial Services Committee staff to CTV News.

The opening statements will be heard by Subcommittee on Commercial and Consumer Credit Chairman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, and Peter Wallison, a conservative financial studies fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. It will be publicly posted on the Congressional website Monday, following a closed-door session on Friday.

Those scheduled to testify include executives from the five largest cryptocurrency exchanges: Coinbase, Bitfinex, Coinbase.com, Mercatus and Kraken, as well as members of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which works with a part of the Treasury Department focused on combating money laundering.

The Bitcoin Investment Trust, one of the largest speculative investors in the digital currency space, is also expected to testify.

It’s unclear if they will all appear together or separately, but the House and Senate are both holding hearings on cryptocurrencies in coming months.

The House Financial Services Committee in September held three consecutive days of hearings about cryptocurrencies, inviting a wide range of experts from Wall Street, policy makers and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to answer to questions about the technology.

The Senate, meanwhile, holds an unusually large number of hearings on cryptocurrencies as part of its nomination process for next year’s capital markets regulators. Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton chairs that committee, and it’s considering nominations for new commissioners to join the six-member commission.

The hearing is slated to begin at 4 p.m. ET on Monday.

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